I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me. Phil 4:13
A few days ago I was having one of those down days. I was overwhelmed, my internet wasn’t working so I couldn’t even swat at the things I was overwhelmed by, and it was raining; A rainy day paired with the wrong circumstances is not a good combination for me. I was disappointed that NO ONE WAS HELPING ME. Couldn’t people see I needed help? Hadn’t all the smart people who love me weighed all the things I’ve done for them alongside all the things they do for me and see that THEY OWE ME? This was all so clear.
In my negative ruminating and despair, I happened to be making my way through Philippians 4:10-14. (Oh the Bible when you’re in a mood). And there was that well-known verse Phil 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I don’t remember how old I was when I was first introduced to that verse. Not very. I do remember it being spelled out on the classroom wall of my Christian elementary school in letters made of construction paper; I remember memorizing it in AWANA (Christian kid throwback). I also remember thinking, huh… I wonder what exactly this verse means because there are all kinds of things I wish I had the strength for that I don’t seem to have?
I wanted to be a better athlete. I worked myself hard on the basketball court but I finished my high school career only having accomplished some things, not all things. But I kinda already knew this verse wasn’t about basketball. Even the times when I claimed this verse for spiritual purposes I had strength for some things but not all of them. So without minimizing the lengths to which Jesus’ strength can go, or the circumstances in which His strength can be expressed through us, the context of this verse is worth noting.
It occurred to me in the middle of my disappointment with “everyone who wasn’t helping me” that Paul could write about being able to do all things through Christ who strengthened him precisely in times when people couldn’t fully meet his needs—even if they wanted to. We’re not sure why the Philippians “lacked the opportunity” to demonstrate their help for Paul but for whatever reason he went without their support for a time. Sometimes they could give it to him; sometimes they couldn’t.
When people don’t meet your needs, or can’t meet your needs, or are called away to someone with greater needs at the moment, you can still do all the things Christ has called you to do because of His strength in you.Click To TweetWhen people don’t meet your needs, or can’t meet your needs, or are called away to someone with greater needs at the moment, you can still do all the things Christ has called you to do because of His strength in you. Paul could write Phil 4:13 whether he had all the best people encouraging him and helping him materially, or whether they were absent for a time. Notice how close “I can do all things through Christ” is to “I have learned the secret of being content”.
What I’m continually learning is that there are seasons when you’ve got who you need, and your family and friendships are firing on all cylinders. And there are seasons when, regardless of intent, the people from whom you often draw strength may not be able to give it to you. Even still, you can do all things through Him who strengthens you.