Philippians 4:13 is a favourite verse of many Christians, me included.
“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (NLT)
However this verse is often used out of context. Paul is thanking the Philippian church for their gift. He says,
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be 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. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Phil.4:11-15 NIV)
The “All things” we like to refer to is actually the ability to be content in any circumstance. I need this strength at this time. After last night’s address by the president I felt depressed because it looks like a long time before life in South Africa is going to get any better, and I don’t think we’ll ever be able to go back to how things used to be.
Can I be content if we don’t go to the South Coast in our motor-home in July as we have planned and booked? Can I brave the worst of the winter in Jo’burg doing the same old lockdown nothing?
Can I be content if we don’t fly to Port Elizabeth at the end of August for my mother’s birthday?
Can I be content if we don’t get to go to New Zealand in December to visit our children and grandchildren.
When my plans are arbitrarily foiled and cancelled can I be content?
This is what we are all called to do – keep going for the long haul, keep trusting God in all circumstances and be content in the process. This is when we need all the strength that Christ can give us so we can say, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”