FINDING THE SECRET
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”
We love to quote the above Scripture, don’t we? We know it back to front and inside out. And we use it for every circumstance, and I think we can. However, it is important to claim a Scripture in its true context, don’t you think?
Paul says these words in the context of God’s provision. Let’s read from verse 11: “I have learned how to be content wherever I am. I know how to live humbly; I also know how to live in prosperity I have been initiated in the secret for all sorts and conditions of life, for plenty and for hunger, for prosperity and for privations; in Him who strengthens me, I am able for anything” (Moffat).
Paul found the secret of contentment, not in His own strength, but in the strength of Christ. His life did not depend on his outward circumstances but his relationship of abiding in Christ. It is only in Christ that we experience true contentment.
Therefore, we have to ask ourselves some questions:
? Are we truly content when we find ourselves in humble and lowly circumstances? The word “humble” or “abased,” according to which translation you use, is the same Greek word in Philippians 2:8 where it tells us that Jesus “humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
Do we complain when we are in humble circumstances, or do we rejoice and confess: “I can do all things who Christ who strengthens me.”?
? What is our attitude if we have to go without a meal because there is no food left in the house? Do we complain of God’s lack of provision? Or confess again: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthen me,” knowing that we can trust our unfailing God.”
Do we confess like the prophet in Habakkuk 3:17-19: “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat,; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength.”
Many times Paul suffered “hunger and thirst” (2 Corinthians 11:23-30), but this did not deter his trust in God. Because his life was “hid with Christ in God” he could cope with all situations and conditions of life.
I remember once when the only food we had left in the house were some potatoes. I cooked them for lunch, and lo and behold, some friends arrived at the door. I felt too embarrassed to ask them to join us for our humble meal, but the Lord convicted me. I invited them in and we sat down together to our meal of only potatoes, and enjoyed a great time of fellowship.
Our friends always remember that meal and testify that if I had cooked an elaborate and scrumptious meal for them they may have forgotten it as the years went by. But they never forgot their meal of potatoes!
? What if we are destitute? Oh no. Does that mean God has forgotten us? No way. Even in destitution we can do it in God’s strength. This is the true meaning of the word that Paul uses in Philippians 4:12 when he says that he learned how to “suffer need.” It’s the same word that is used in the faith chapter, informing us of the men of faith who “wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being DESTITUTE, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth” (Hebrews 11:36-40).
Who were these people? They were the men and women of faith! They trusted in God no matter what their circumstances. They did it in Christ’s strength and received an eternal reward.
? What about when we have plenty and even an over abundance? Do we still keep a humble and contented spirit knowing that we have nothing of ourselves. Everything we have is only God’s provision, which sometimes He holds back to test our trust in Him, and sometimes He pours out because He loves to lavish us with His love. And when He pours out, we pour it out on others.
The secret is contentment in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. Whether it is in plenty or want, joyful or trying, we face it in Christ’s strength. This is the true context of this Scripture.
Blessings from Nancy Campbell
“I thank you, Father, that You are my God, the One in whom I can trust. I cannot face difficulties and hardship in my own strength, but I thank you that I can do it in Your strength. Because my life is “in You” and Your life is “in me” I can do all things in Your enabling. Thank you, Father. Amen.”
No matter what hardship I face, I can face it in Christ’s strength.