“And I am not saying this because I feel neglected, for I have learned to be satisfied with what I have. I know what it is to be in need and what it is to have more than enough. I have learned this secret, so that anywhere, at any time, I am content, whether I am full or hungry, whether I have too much or too little. I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.” Philippians 4: 11-13
Many times we find Christians quoting the last verse to motivate themselves when facing exams or a challenge that we may be ill-prepared for. Then like modern-day motivational speakers, we use this scripture to psyche ourselves up, whether we have studied or not or prepared ourselves. This scripture is the one most used to illustrate stubborn faith and the “can do” mentality. Though verse is valid on its own, we miss out of the greater value of joining it to the preceding foundation of Paul’s profession. Worse still, many will be demoralised and believe God is not there for them should their exams or challenges seem to overcome them.
Then this confession is quickly forgotten as if God had maybe not heard them or forsaken them. When Peter calls believers everywhere to count it all joy when they face trails (1 Peter1:6), someone somewhere manages to convince believers that life as a Christian is supposed to be without trial or hardship, that Christ has gone through all the trials so that we don’t.
It is then surprising to a misled believer that Paul professed his “can do” faith because it had gone through testing to be refined and come out clear as gold (Malachi 3:3).
He had seen lack and seen abundance; he had endured being beaten close to death and being shipwrecked. He had faced several courts and false accusations, even facing certain death and in prison for the gospel, he was now confident, that regardless of circumstances that he faces Christ was with Him throughout and actually interceding for Him (Romans 8:34).
We have a high priest who is sympathetic to our sufferings (Hebrews 4:15). Christ faced not having a dwelling to call his own (Matthew 8:20), not being liked by his relative Herod who killed all the kids of his same age (Matthew 2:16), not being liked by the Pharisees who were the “pastors” of the time who even sought and eventually killed him (Matthew 23:27) .
Christ came with no advantage except the Holy Spirit so that satan could never say Christ claimed God was great since all things were going well for Him and that all things in His life were super-blessed. He actually chose poverty so that we could be rich. God has availed the same Holy Spirit so that, like Christ we, can overcome whatever the devil throws at us (1 John4:4, Romans8:17). If Christ has endured, we then understand that He can strengthen us to face whatever this life throws us.
While many non-believers face trials can fall down in oppression and depression, our mindsets are changed with this knowledge. Though we may be pressed on all sides, we react differently and with hope using our trials as building blocks to our perfection (Romans 5:3-5). To us all, Paul declares that nothing, whether trials, sickness, devils, government officials or invention can separate us from the immense and deep love of God that is manifest in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:39).
Does it seem like the answers to your prayers are being delayed and desires are not being fulfilled as per the promises in Psalm 37:4? Well, you can wait and not lose hope because of Christ who strengthens you. Is your health seemingly failing you no matter how many times you confess healing scriptures? You can endure suffering through Christ who strengthens you? Have you faced bitter disappointment at school, work or at home? You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. The bible promises that without exception, all our trials work to our good since God has, before time, destined us to be like Christ (Romans 8:28-29).
Therefore, regardless of what you will face now henceforth, be content; be not tossed through and fro. Stand firm on the word of God no matter what name the trial may be called. You can do all things, that is, face trials, disappointments, persecutions, being looked over or seemingly not receiving your promises in God through Christ who strengthens you. You will be a solid Christian and from now henceforth you shall always give thanks to God in all things because, surely you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Shalom.