The Apostle Paul declared in his letter to the Phillipians in a matter of fact way that indeed he could do anything through Christ’s strength. I had heard that said many times and over the years, I have even quoted it myself in a misguided effort to gain assurance in my desire to complete a task.
It is interesting how perception changes when it is realized that what Paul was talking about wasn’t his ability to actually do anything, or everything for that matter, if it were, surely Paul would have exited the Roman prison where he was being held, or would have called upon His name to relieve him of his lot. No, this was about so much more. It was about being able to live daily, to gain spiritually and to rise above the demands of daily life and all of the pitfalls we endure. It was about being at peace with the task at hand and through the strength of Christ, accomplishing what is required of you.
Too often I hear people quote Phillipians 4:13 as a prelude to embarking upon a mission to accomplish something, maybe flying for the first time or running a marathon. While it may be comforting to quote, I think the real message is missed. By backing up a bit, we can see what Paul was actually saying. In verse 4:11, he wrote, “I am content” … and further commented that regardless of whether he was full or hungry, whether he had riches or poverty, that it was through His strength and His comfort that he could be satisfied.
Paul was seeking out a deeper relationship with God, to learn to trust Him with all of his needs, and he was trying to impart that to the Phillipian church. How much better could our lives be if we would but trust Him to provide for us and be content with the strength given to us by Him. Paul endured many hardships, yet he maintained faith in the God that delivered him and provided for him time and time again.
Jesus once said “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow nor reap nor gather away into barns, yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” I don’t think this was meant to say that we should just sit around and wait for someone to bring us sustainence, but rather to elicit the trust we should all have in the power and strength of the Lord to supply all of our needs.
I am slowly and steadily learning to allow His will to be done in my life, instead of trying to direct my own desires above what He has in store for my life. This has produced some remarkable results and without His guidance, I could have suffered considerable hardship during the recent economic crisis. While it may seem amazing to many, even with a significant reduction in pay and a layoff, all of my needs have been met and my obligations are being fulfilled. I have been blessed to be able to give to others at a level I would have never dreamed. God is at work in my life and fulfilling my needs and I am trusting in Him to continue. It is through His strength that I can do anything, but that “anything” must be within His will for my life. I am learning to be content with His sustenance, just as Paul was … and God wants the rest of the world to learn to do the same.