It was the middle of the night when I sat up gasping.
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,” tumbled out as I looked around the room and realized where I was. I was in Midland, Texas, and the following day would be the Bible Bowl competition my youth group had driven from Mesa, Arizona to take part in. We had memorized Galations through 2 Thessalonians that year, and I had studied so hard that my brain was leaking. I was spouting scripture in my sleep, but at least it was scripture that encouraged me that I could make it through the next day’s competition.
Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things…” is a verse I have deferred to often over the years. It is used a lot for encouragement in Christian circles. Yet, “I can do,” isn’t exactly what Paul was saying in that verse, and frankly, I’m glad!
Recently, my kids were coming to the table and son #1 was not happy. I can’t even remember what the squabble was about, but it was this verse which tumbled out once again.
Lilly, who is 17, beat me to the point before I could even begin to explain. “Yeah, but the original wording (for do) meant to endure. I can endure all things…”
I have to praise the Lord for the things He teaches my children in their quiet time. I didn’t teach Lilly that, but I’m so glad that she knows. I wanted my son to know that he could be content with what he had. He didn’t have to grumble and complain. Paul said, in Philippians 4:11-13, that he had learned the secret to being content, whatever the circumstances.
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
I can be content through him who gives me the ability to endure, whatever the circumstances. I have given these verses much thought over the past few weeks.
During these days of “sheltering in place,” isolation, loss of revenue, and uncertainty, we can endure through Christ who strengthens us.
During shopping trips when people have acted afraid of eachother, things I thought we needed were not available, masks steal our ability to give away smiles, and I’m repulsed by the suggestion that this is a ‘new normal,’ I come home and tell it to Jesus. Sometimes I cry over it, but I can endure through Him who gives me strength.
During times of rioting and violence, when people do what is right in their own eyes, and two wrongs still don’t add up to a right, we can bring it to the feet of Jesus and He gives us strength to keep on keeping on.
“I can do all things through Christ,” doesn’t mean that I can accomplish anything I have a mind to take on. There are a lot of things I should leave well enough alone. Doing too much distracts me from taking time for Jesus. What it does mean is that no matter what happens, or how difficult my circumstances become, I can go on because I can find contentment in the Lord. He is sufficient for me.
When I am sitting here in peace, surrounding by blessings and abundance, and the troubles of the world seem far off, even here, contentment comes through Jesus who is All in all.
There was an educated woman in the news a couple months back, talking about the global history of human resiliance. I wonder if she knows Jesus is the answer? I hope so.
God bless you,