Is It True that I Can Do All Things?
Inside: If I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, why can’t I conquer my fear of heights or solve higher math problems? How does Philippians 4:13 play out in real life, and how can we get this strength that Paul is so sure of?
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I knelt on the floor by my bed again, asking God to come through one more time. I felt weak and tired, not exactly strong enough to fight one more battle.
On the wall to my right, the plaque reminded me: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV*).
We preach this verse to each other as if it will solve every problem, and yet, do we not live weakly, fretting from one problem to the next, with rarely a break in between?
If this verse is true, why can I not understand a lick of physics, climb a fourteener without training, or get through a whole week without worrying once?
It’s not that this verse isn’t true; it’s that we take it completely out of context!
Along with incredible ministry highs, Paul had experienced the worst of lows: frightening shipwrecks, bloody beatings, aching hunger, sleepless nights, bitter cold without shelter, and the list goes on (see 2 Corinthians 11:24-28). Any one of us might have given up after one shipwreck. He survived three. I would have turned in the towel after one instance of “forty lashes less one.” He endured five. How did he make it through so many trials?
It turns out Paul had learned a secret! Read this passage carefully:
12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:12-13 ESV)
Did you see it? There’s a secret! What is this grand mystery?
Paul could endure any circumstance not because he had any special power. He didn’t wear a cape. He had not been endowed with any special ability. Jesus’ power in him provided all that he needed to withstand anything that came his way! This was his secret, his cure for weakness and uncertainty.
When circumstances were beyond his ability to handle, Paul didn’t look inside himself in the hopes he had stored up enough mystical inner strength. Rather, he sought Jesus and the strength that only Jesus can provide.
So I wonder, what do you need Christ’s strength for today?
- Do you find yourself dreading the work on a relationship?
- Are you facing economic hardship, wondering how you will pay next month’s bills?
- Is a health problem causing worry and anxiety?
Could we also not claim Christ’s strength for smaller things?
- Is your to-do list longer than your waking hours?
- Are the kids about to send you over the edge with their incessant fighting?
- Are home repairs overwhelming you?
We Could Use Some Strength!
How do we obtain this strength of Christ’s that Paul found? In my estimation, it has something to do with giving our burdens over to Jesus–really, truly releasing them to him and letting him carry them:
Cast your burden on the Lord,
and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
the righteous to be moved. (Psalm 55:22 ESV)
When Peter quoted this psalm–“casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7 ESV)–he wasn’t talking about picking and choosing which anxieties to turn over to the Lord or giving them to Jesus one at a time. He meant throw it all over to Jesus: all of your life, all of your cares, give it all to him in one fell swoop! Then, when troubles come, they will not be individual troubles to be dealt with, because you have already given all of it to Jesus for him to carry!
Twirl that concept around in your mind a couple of times.
If you’re like me, you read that paragraph and thought, “That’s pretty much impossible! Give it all to God all at one time? How in the world are we to do that?”
Let’s start by establishing that apparently it is possible to give it all to God. Not that I have done it, mind you! Paul had released everything into Jesus’ hands, and Peter–our friend who had famously betrayed Jesus–eventually learned the same secret!
In giving their lives away to the Lord, they gained strength beyond compare.
I don’t pretend to have come close to this. Shall we join together in working toward this type of ultimate trust in God? The kind of trust where shipwrecks and stonings–how about paying the bills or reconciling relationships–lead us to live lives of strength, because it is not our strength?
How do we work toward this?
Pray, Pray, and Pray Some More!
How do we cast our burdens on the Lord so that he can carry them? Time and again, God encourages us to bring our requests to him. Ask! Paul even said it right before our famous verse!
6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 ESV)
God clearly understands our need to repeatedly bring requests to him. So let’s not stop asking!
In watching God’s faithfulness in our lives, might we progress to casting our cares on him in such a way that from even the start of a problem, we are letting Jesus carry it–his shoulders are bearing the weight–and our prayers are merely agreeing with him in his will? Might our countenance go from distress because we are carrying the weight to trust because we know Jesus is shouldering the load?
John UpChurch said, “Jesus gives us the strength to see beyond our present circumstances and to trust in Him to provide everything we truly need.”
I stood up from my prayer time, knees aching, heart lighter. Jesus was carrying my concerns for me.
What we cannot handle, God can! He is our refuge and strength (Psalm 46:1)!
So sign your email with Philippians 4:13, hang a plaque with the verse on your wall, and then claim Christ’s strength for all it’s worth!
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV).
Want some inspiration to remind you of this principle? (These link to Amazon.)
Digging Deeper: Is It True that I Can Do All Things?
If you want to dig deeper into God’s Word, work through these questions now or throughout the week:
1. What past circumstances has God seen you through? If your Bible is handy, open to 2 Corinthians 11:24-33. A portion is printed here for you:
24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food,[b] in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:24-28 ESV)
What would your list of trials look like? List them out, or at least call them to mind.
2. Recall how God provided for you during these times. Look at one of Paul’s examples from later in the chapter!
2 At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me, 33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands.
God had provided for Paul in a practical, miraculous way! You’ve probably not been let down in a basket through a window in the city wall to escape a pursuing king, but God has come through for you! Recall with a sense of wonderment how God has delivered you.
3. Turn this now to trust. If God has done these miraculous things for you, why would he not see you through next time? Cast as much as you can on the Lord, and let him carry the weight.
Get Your Worship On!
When we lift our worship to God, we gain trust in his strength! Enjoy one or two of these songs today or throughout the week.
Trust in You (Lauren Daigle) God is our mighty warrior, king of the fight, always by our side!
Even If (MercyMe) If you have been waiting for a loooonnng time for God to answer a prayer, be sure to listen to this one!
Great Is Thy Faithfulness (Chris Rice)
Great Is Thy Faithfulness (Hymn version, recorded at a church in England)
*Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.Print