If you are familiar with Philippians 4:13, you know the Bible says “We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.” However, sometimes it seems we can’t always acheive what we desire to accomplish. Why? We have Jesus and Philippians says if we have Jesus we can do all things. Why is it we can’t seem to accomplish all that we set out to achieve? The most logical answer is because “We can’t do all things”. Our lack of accomplishment seems to be a direct contradiction of what the Bible proclaims. Or is it?
Some people us this verse to believe if we have Jesus we can and should be able to accomplish “all things”, important queastion to answer is what exactly is “all things? When we read this verse it is crucial to understand the context of the passage. Many people use Philippians 4:13 as a verse to say, “I can get that job, afford that house, change someones heart, or accomplish anything I set my mind to achieve”. We like to use this passage as a self help tool to make me a better me and center the context of this verse all on me. After all Jesus wants me to be happy right?
The short answer is yes, God desires for you to be happy. However, His plan for you to find joy may be far different then your plan to find joy. In the end, even though we want this verse to say “God will give me what I want”, the reality is that is not what this verse means. The fortunate blessing is that although this verse does not mean we get what we want, if we discover the meaning of this verse it will bring us a joy that lasts forever.
What is the message of Philippians 4:13 saying? If you recall, the Apostle Paul is writing the book of Philippians from jail. We can quickly recognize that this isn’t something Paul would have wanted for his life. No one chooses jail, especially a Roman jail. If Paul believes Jesus would give to him what he wanted, then Paul’s own message in Philippians seems to be contradicting his life. Why would Paul tell us we can do all things and then demonstrate how successful we can be by saying it in jail.
Apart from Paul, what about our own struggles? The death of a loved one, a battle with cancer, losing a job, we don’t desire these experiences. Yet if you have Jesus in your life you have likely experienced some sort of loss in your life. So what is Paul saying in Philippians 4:13?
What Paul is saying to us is that God is in control of every moment. He knows our struggles and the road you will travel. We may not have wanted to chose such a path, but the important part is that Jesus promises to get you through it. We can often look at the trials ahead of us and feel as if we have been defeated. However, Paul is saying you do not need to muster up the strength to handle life, Jesus will supply you with that strength. If God has called you to something, and if God has permitted you to endure hardships, God will also provide you with the ability and strength to endure it. We may not always prefer what we have on our plate, but Jesus is with you. Having Jesus with you in a trial is far better than living life without him. Just as Paul sat in prison and found strength in Christ, we can too. In fact, interesting enough, the book of Philippians is all about Joy in the Lord. Imagine that, finding joy in trials.
Paul’s life focus is all about Jesus. Paul writes Philippians from jail and people wonder if Paul will be able to continue serving the Lord. Paul’s answer is “of course, I haven’t accomplished anything for Jesus on my own. I did it all through Jesus. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
As a follower of Christ I find Paul’s message incredibly freeing. I know God has called me to serve Him in various ways throughout this world, but sometimes the task at hand may seem overwhelming for many reasons: a lack of resources, experience, or even energy. life can throw me a difficult curve ball” However, this verse is a glorious opportunity to remind myself that none of it will be accomplished on my strength. Thank you Jesus. If Jesus wants it done, He will do it. When Jesus does something, he loves to0do it by moving through His people. Therefore, we have the wonderful opportunity to watch Him to accomplish great things in this world though us and He does so by supplying the strength.
Perhaps the important point to remind ourselves is that we need Jesus. Trials should drive us to Jesus. He lifts our burdens and supplies the strength. For those of us who like to live like Superman, this could be one of the more important lessons we learn. Jesus wants you to be joyful, and that comes as you draw near to Jesus. He is the strength supplier. Far better than your temporary happiness, Jesus wants to provide you with eternal joy. Using our struggles to draw near to him for strength, we learn how to tap into the joy of the Lord and find that while “I can’t do all things, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. Just like Paul, we should be interested in what we could accomplish for the Kingdom in Jesus’s strength.
This isn’t a verse to get what we want, it is a verse that helps us to see life through Christ’s eyes. It is a verse that reminds us to draw near to him in trials. He knows you endure them, and he also wants to provide you with the strength to handle it. He has the power for you to accomplish all things for His kingdom and glory.