I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  We’ve all heard this familiar bible verse.  Does God really strengthen us? When does He strengthen us? Does he really care?

The bible is full of stories of God rescuing his people: the classic parting of the Red Sea to rescue His followers and to destroy their enemies.   And what about God promising (and doing it) to rescue His people from the bondage of slavery to the Egyptians?  God has no compunction about rescuing His people.  But that’s not what we’re talking about today . . . we’re talking about God strengthening us.

Look at the classic story of David and Goliath.  God Strengthened David to stand up against the giant Goliath.  Oh, God could have made the whole conflict go away with a simple flick of the wrist and either make everyone forget about it, strike Goliath down Himself or any number of things but . . . God chose the strengthen David instead.

Remember the story of Shadrack, Neshack and Abednigo?  By the way, that’s not “and to be we go” as my daughter though it was when she was 5!  Anyway, the story was that the King was demanding that everyone bow down to him and forsake their other Gods.   Shadrack, Neshack and Abednigo refused to obey the king and so were sent to their death (so the King thought) in the fiery furnace.  God strengthened them to stand up to the king and brave the fate of the furnace.  When they came out on the other side unharmed God made quite an impression on everyone.

Again, God could have just stricken the King down dead, made him mute or blind or simply just rescued Shadrack, Neshack and Abednigo by just beaming them out of there.  But He chose to strengthen them.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.   This was one of my mom’s life mantras . . . I heard it over and over and in all situations.  Consequently, it became an involuntary memory verse for me.  As is the case with memory verses; they come to us when we need them and this one has been no different in my life.

But what does it really mean; I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me?  Let’s look at the actual verse it is a part of and see what it says in Phillipians 4:
10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ[b] who strengthens me.

This was part of a letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians while he was literally in chains in prison.  Paul suffered more for his Faith than probably any of us ever will.  He writes about how he has known great times of need and time of plenty and through all of it Christ has given him the strength to deal with it . . . whatever it was.

So, what about us?   When we are going through difficult times . . . depression . . . losing a job . . . losing a loved one . . . a devastating diagnosis.  Will god strengthen us through those times?  Or what about when we are searching for direction in our lives . . . what to do with the second half of our life . . . how to develop a passion or talent god has given us . . . or we simply feel that we need to start exercising, losing weight or writing that long-overdue book.  I do believe that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us!

That’s all great, but how does God strengthen us.  Do we just get an idea in our head and claim this scripture as a promise; OK God, I am going to rob this bank and shoot two guards in the process . . . you are now obligated to strengthen me to do that?!  Really?!?!   First of all that scenario would clearly put God in the vending machine category which He certainly is not.  Secondly, somehow I think God needs to “be in the boat” with us on the thing He is going to strengthen us to do.  So how do we know what God is on board for?

If we think about it, god created each of us individually with our own unique talents, skills aptitudes and passions.  Doesn’t it just make sense that God is going to be the most interested is strengthening us to do the things He made us for?  In the unique way that each of us needs to be strengthen?  So how do we know what those are?

We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us!

Stay tuned for follow up parts of this series.

Thank you for reading and following,