I can do everything through him who gives me strength. – Philippians 4:13
If you’re a Christian, you’ve likely heard this verse and probably even have it memorized. Chances are pretty good that even if you’re not a Christian you’ve heard this verse somewhere. People quote it often in a variety of contexts. Admittedly, I do the same thing. It is usually used as a motivational phrase to encourage someone in their quest to reach a goal. And even though it is a good reminder that we’re not on our own once we’ve chosen to follow Christ, Paul wasn’t thinking about a reaching a personal goal when he penned these words to the church at Philippi. The two verses right before show us what Paul was thinking about when he reflected on where his strength comes from.
…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. – Philippians 4:11&12
Paul had learned “the secret” for being able to persevere no matter what the current circumstances of his life were. He knew that it was Jesus that gave him the strength he needed at all times. When he was living in plenty and feeling like he just wanted to sit back and enjoy the blessings in his life, it was Jesus who gave him the strength to journey out of his comfort zone to fulfill the purpose God had for him. When he was tired and hungry, not sure where he would lay his head or even where his next meal would come from, it was Jesus who gave him the strength to keep going, trusting in God to provide for his needs.
Philippians 4:13 is as much about faith as it is about perseverance. It would serve us well to lean on this truth as far more than a motivational phrase that provides a little encouragement. No matter what our current situation may be, we can trust God to give us strength. He will give us strength to persevere in our struggles and he will make us strong enough to venture out when things are just fine where we are. And when we are able to depend on the strength of Christ which is far greater than any strength we may muster on our own, then we will be content!