I can do all things through [Jesus] who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:13)
Paul wrote today’s scripture while in prison. Every time he was behind bars, he was facing death. Being chained to a Roman guard, he would’ve been deprived of any privacy. Under such conditions you might think Paul would’ve been daunted or depressed—but read Philippians.
Again, and again Paul says, “Rejoice.” Rejoice in what? Rejoice for what? Paul can rejoice because he knows he can do all things through Jesus who gives him strength.
What would it mean to know what Paul knows?
It would mean facing our own death with the certain hope of Jesus raising us from the dead to be with Him and with all those who have gone before.
It would mean being able to forgive someone who has deeply hurt us, and forgiving ourselves when we’ve been terribly wrong, mistaken, or awful.
It would mean continuing to love even though our heart had been broken and carrying on with dignity even when we’ve suffered a horrendous loss or treacherous betrayal.
It would mean having the courage to tell the truth when telling a lie would be much easier.
It would mean reaching across the boundary of some deeply held prejudice or stepping up to serve even when we felt inadequate.
It would mean swallowing our pride and saying, “I’m sorry,” and swallowing even more pride and saying, “I need help.”
Life’s hard. Love can break your heart. The world’s full of danger. No matter how smart or talented, we’ll hit a wall. We can be tempted to despair, hide, or quit.
But Jesus calls us out of our fear, hurt, and dismay, and says, “I’m with you. You’re never alone. Draw from my love. Lean into my strength. There’s no challenge bigger than my care. I didn’t come to this world, didn’t go to the cross, for you to live frightened or small.”
I’ve prayed these words—we can do all things through Jesus who strengthens us—countless times. The promise of these words inspired Paul to go through some dark and hard times. I encourage us to believe that the promise of these words can do the same for us.
- How do you need the strength of Jesus to do the things you need to do?
- Paul could only write about the strength of Jesus when he knew and accepted his own weakness. Do you know and accept the places and times when you are weak?
- We tend to rejoice when everything is going our way. Paul invites us to rejoice from his prison cell. What would help you to rejoice regardless of your own circumstances and comforts?