It is kind of a catchy saying to plaster across a Christian school’s gymnasium wall.
I know the one who decided to put it there meant well. But “I can do all things through Christ Who gives me strength” is absolutely NOT about lifting weights, running an extra lap or hitting a ball out of the park.
No. No. NO.
Can we just look at it in context, please?
I’m glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess—happy that you’re again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. I don’t mean that your help didn’t mean a lot to me—it did. It was a beautiful thing that you came alongside me in my troubles.
Phillipians 4::12-14 MSG
Paul was thanking friends for their concern and aid. But he didn’t want them to think he was desperately needy. He was assuring them that because he had found utter fulfillment in Christ and through Christ he could be content no matter his outward circumstances.
But there is something else here too-another tidbit overlooked in our desire to lift verses out of context.
While Paul was content in his circumstances, while he was at peace and settled in his soul, he was also deeply grateful that his friends had remembered him. He was encouraged that they had sent aid and lifted prayers and inquired as to his well-being.
Being content does not preclude discouragement.
I can feel both deep peace and experience confusion over my present circumstances.
It’s just then that I need faithful friends to remind me that I’m not alone and I’m not abandoned. That is precisely the moment my spirit cries out for compassionate companionship.
This life is not meant to be lived alone-even in a prison cell.
It’s meant to be lived in community with others who come alongside and call courage to our hearts.