Say it with me now …
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
What does that mean to you?
Do you have it scribbled on a sticky note in your gym bag? Is it on one of your coffee mugs to psych you in the morning, “I CAN wake up!” We’ve all heard it touted from various sports fields and courts.
Yes, it’s true. None of those things would be possible with out Christ.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
But if we take a close look at what Paul was saying, he really didn’t have any intention of implying that God’s crazy, awesome, supernatural, sustaining power was specifically designed to help you finish the marathon. Read the whole passage, starting with verse 10:
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (emphasis mine)
The context of Paul’s famous phrase was him telling the Philippians not to worry about him. No matter that he was in jail even as he penned the letter. A quick cross reference with 2 Corinthians 11:25 tells us that Paul was no stranger to physical pain and suffering. And it’s from that place that he tells the Philippians, “I can do anything … ”
Basically, I think, boiled down, Paul was saying, “I can deal with all the crappy stuff through Christ who strengthens me.”
Paul wasn’t claiming that he could obtain any promotion, conquer any athletic feat or leap tall buildings in a single bound. No, he was telling them that he could survive anything. Christ’s strength was his anchor, his sustenance, his confidence to endure suffering, pain, loss, defeat and rejection.
If you reframe this famous line in the context of the Apostle Paul’s original words, what is Christ enabling you to do today? What are you confident he will enable you to face tomorrow?