If you’ve spent much time in Christian circles, perhaps you have heard someone quote Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through him [Christ] who strengthens me.” This is a powerful verse, but people sometimes treat it like a lucky charm. They say they can win a game or get their dream job, because they can do all things through Christ. But when Paul penned these words, he wasn’t speaking of success in any endeavor we take up. He was talking about contentment that is rooted in the salvation and satisfaction that only Jesus can give.
Paul writes this letter from prison, reminding the church that true joy can be found only in salvation through Jesus. In the final chapter, where we find our verse, he thanks the church for giving a gift to meet his needs. But he reminds them that he has learned to be content in any situation, whether he has an abundance of food and money or he has nothing. He has become so enamored by Jesus, and so convinced of the good news of Jesus, that he has learned not just to endure any circumstance, but to be content in any circumstance. This is what he means when Paul says he can “do all things” through Christ who gives strength. The strength that Christ gives is the ability to say in the best and worst of times that Jesus is enough to be content. Paul does not say, “If only I had _________, I would be content.” Fill in the blank: freedom; food; a few more friends; a nicer house. Paul says, “I am content, because I have Jesus, and he has made me his own.”
When we face hard circumstances, we typically either pull away from Jesus or draw closer to him. The whole letter of Philippians, especially this verse, tells us that Jesus is enough to carry us through the hardest of times. When we lose our job for standing up for our faith, when our family is falling apart, or when we hear devastating news from the doctor, the joy and strength that Christ provides are enough to be content. Trials and pain are real—Paul does not dismiss or downplay this. But he encourages us to draw near to Jesus, who is strong enough to care for us in the best and worst of times. Do you believe this?