“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” —Philippians 4:13
The Apostle Paul said these words to the believers in Philippi to explain something about his faith in Christ. Unfortunately, his statement that "I can do all things through him" (that is, Jesus Christ) is often terribly misunderstood. Many like to pluck this verse out of context to assert that we can do anything imaginable because Christ will give us strength to do it. Or that our lives will be somehow easier because of Christ. Some even use this verse to argue that God will provide finances to accomplish our every desire—if only we have enough faith.
While that sounds great and has good intentions behind it, if we look at Philippians 4:13 in context, we find that Paul actually meant something quite different.
In Philippians 4:10-20, Paul starts by assuring the Philippians that they need not worry about his financial needs or his suffering because "in any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need" (v. 12b). What's this secret Paul speaks of? "I can do all things through [Christ] who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).
As we go through life, many of us tend to worry about what needs to be done, what might get in our way, and how we might suffer if there are obstacles. No one really enjoys suffering, right? Yet suffering is an inevitable part of every Christian's life (John 16:33). But what Paul explains here is that Christ, who is all powerful (Colossians 2:10), will provide strength to help us endure those inevitable hard times.
Christ's strength helps us overcome worries and earthly desires no matter how bad our circumstances may be. Paul suffered greatly throughout his ministry. Read 2 Corinthians 11:24-27 for a long list of the awful physical and emotional trials Paul had to go through up to that point in his faith. Christ did not give him superpowers so the beatings didn't hurt. He did not miraculously build bridges or keep Paul from being adrift at sea. Rather, Paul learned to endure his intense suffering through a purposeful desire to be content in his circumstances and continued faith that God would provide for his truest needs (Philippians 4:11).
Materialism and anxiety about getting through tough times do not need to consume our hearts. We may all experience times of abundance and times of need—just like Paul. But we can be assured that God will provide the power required to endure anything the world may throw at us.
Just as Jesus faithfully endured suffering on the cross, we too can faithfully endure our sufferings and learn to be content in all circumstances. Whether we're serving God in our homes, our schools, our workplaces, our cities and states, or even around the world, Christ's strength and power will hold us up so we can stand firm on God's promise to help us endure life's challenges.
"My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen." —Philippians 4:19-20
Christ's strength is provided for endurance—not as an assurance that everything will be easy. Paul learned to endure his intense suffering through a purposeful desire to be content in his circumstances and continued faith that God would provide for his truest needs (Philippians 4:11). We too can be assured that God will provide the power required to endure anything the world may throw at us (Philippians 4:13).
Cat is the web producer and editor of 412teens.org. She loves audiobooks, feeding the people she cares about, and using Christmas lights to illuminate a room. When Catiana is not writing, cooking, or drawing, she enjoys spending time with her two kids, five socially-awkward cats, and her amazing friend-amily.