I am strong. When something hard comes up, I just have to dig deep inside of myself and find the ability to power through.
Except when I can’t.
Like when winter seems to last a little longer than I would like. Or when my fibromyalgia flares up for no reason. Or when it’s the end of the day and I’m exhausted and my kids are melting down over something small. And I just can’t. I can’t power through.
I think so many times I take Philippians 4:13 and I stop it short in my heart. I say, “I can do all this!!” I can do this! I just need to try harder. Be better.
The reality is, that is not Philippians 4:13. The verse says “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” I can only do anything by the grace of God. But what really gets me about Philippians 4:13 is actually tied to the verse right before it. The writer Paul says he has learned the secret of being content. I mean…whoa. Wise men and spiritual gurus and self-help books have been trying to help us figure this out for years. But Paul says he knows the secret. If he had a lot or a little…if things were going well or they weren’t…he said he could go through all of this “through him who gives me strength.”
Our pastor did a beautiful job of breaking this down on Sunday. He said, “Being wealthy presents major challenges and obstacles in life. Being healthy and wealthy is an enormous responsibly. Can you be wealthy through Christ who gives you strength? Being poor creates anxiety and fear. Can you be poor through Christ who gives you strength? Can you be single through Christ who gives you strength?
Can you stay married through Christ who strengthens you?
Can you hold on to God’s truth and plan for sexuality through Christ who gives you strength?
Can you hold on to a job that you hate through Christ who strengthens you? Can you raise children through Christ who gives you strength?
Can you grow old through Christ who gives you strength?
Can you walk through the valley of infertility through Christ who strengthens you?” For me personally…can I endure a little more winter, through Christ who can give me the strength? Can I hang on to hope during the pain, through Christ who strengthens me? Can I be present for my children at the end of the day? Goodness knows…only through Christ.
Our world is telling us that we are enough. It sweetly tells us that we just need to find our “inner strength.” And I have believed the lie for too long. I reached the bottom of my own strength. I came up empty and was left disappointed and feeling hopeless. How do I combat the temptation to try to handle these situations with my own muscle?! This is how our pastor ended his message, “I am tempted to pursue my contentment through my own power and through my own strength and through my own resources. So what I’m learning is the best way for me to combat this false teaching is through prayer. Because prayer is an expression of dependence on His power.”
To me, this means before I ever get to the bottom of my strength barrel, I need to pray to the one who gives me strength and I tell Him (and remind myself) “I can’t do this on my own.”
That might sound like weakness to the world. But Christ says when I am weak, then I am strong. So I’ll boast in my weakness today. I can’t do this on my own. I need Jesus. HE is strong. Not me.