I confess that I’m one of the millions of Christians who regularly recite Philippians 4:13. How can you not love this uplifting, soul-stirring, take-on-the-world promise?
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
But there’s actually more encouragement in this verse than you might think at first. You see, Paul wrote these words while facing some of the worst trials of his life. Despite the threat of pain and death, he realized that God gives us strength in ways that go beyond the good times and the everything-is-okay moments. The strength of Christ reaches right down into our turmoil and pain.
And it’s there that we can truly do “all things.” Here are 3 surprising ways this happens:
1. Through Trials
When we think of victory, we often envision champions with trophies or medals. We think of spotlights and TV coverage and fame. We think of parades and celebrations.
But true victory often happens far away from the crowd.
In Christ, we will certainly see joyful times, just as anyone does. But what truly sets us apart as followers of Jesus is that we can find victory in the most difficult trials. James knew that type of struggle very well, and yet he could honestly say:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2–4)
Christ gives us the strength to not only endure the tough times, but also to grow during them. We aren’t meant to just slog through the pain; we’re meant to see our faith blossom right in the face of our battles. God equips us with the armor we need to stand firm:
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:13)
That’s the kind of strength Jesus gives.
2. Through Contentment
If there’s ever a fight that goes on in us humans, it’s the constant struggle to be content. Disappointments, setbacks, and delays keep hammering away at us. Apart from Christ, we’d quickly trip and stumble our way into bitterness and entitlement. After all, this world tells us that we “deserve to be happy,” and it’s easy to buy into that mindset.
But in Christ, we move our eyes off the things we don’t have, the frustrations that surround us, and we put them where they need to be. Paul’s words from prison show this spiritual truth in action:
“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 4:12)
How can we have this type of contentment? By turning our attention from what we think we need to the only thing that truly matters:
“For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:32–33)
After all, our hope isn’t in what we have or don’t have here on earth. Our hope is in Christ:
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” (1 Timothy 6:6–7)
Jesus gives us the strength to see beyond our present circumstances and to trust in Him to provide everything we truly need.
3. Through His Victory
Our greatest victory, however, isn’t really ours at all. We can face any situation and be content no matter what happens because of one important fact:
“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57)
Jesus died in our place and came back to life as a true Conqueror, and all He accomplished gets credited to our account. We didn’t earn a single bit of it, but we’re guaranteed so much.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
“For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18)
A fresh start:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
He won the victory, and we get to share the prize. Now, that’s how we can truly do all things through Christ.
This article first appeared on BibleStudyTools.com.
This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy to read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin and history of specific verses within Scripture context. It is our hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God's Word in relation to your life today.
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