“I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:12-13).
Today’s passage contains one of the most well-known and well-loved passages of scripture. You can find it on t-shirts, coffee mugs, decorative signs, sports programs, and more. It’s a passage used to encourage people in their career endeavors, sports, anything where a person needs a push to take a challenge and perform well. Just as “All things are possible with God,” so too this passage tells us nothing is impossible for us as well. We can accomplish whatever we set our hearts to. “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” How encouraging! There’s only one thing wrong with that understanding.
It’s completely false.
If you want to understand what a passage of scripture really means, you have to go to its context. And the context of this passage is a difficult one. Look at what Paul was facing just before he uttered those so-well-loved words. “I know how to be brought low.” What? Brought low? “I know how to abound.” Hey, that’s more like it! “I have learned the secret of facing…hunger…and need.”
Considering the context of this passage it’s better to translate it this way, “I can endure all things through him who strengthens me.” This makes more sense. So, what is the secret? It is to stay focused on the person of Jesus. Look at Paul’s last few words, “…through HIM who strengthens me.” It is our focus on Jesus that gets us through the trials we face; even if that trial is being wrongly imprisoned in a filthy, smelling, disease-infested cell.
What are you faced with today?
“I can [endure] all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
Write down this memory verse and keep it with you. When trials come, no matter how large or small, bring it to your mind and purpose to move forward, relaying on Christ.