Strength In Christ

Kevin Ibanez

"I can do all this through him who gives me strength."  Philippians 4:13

This past Sunday, at about 10:30 am, I got a call from my wife saying that she was going to drop off our kids then drive herself to urgent care.  She told me that she was in a lot of pain.  My wife is a mother of four and married to me, so needless to say, she has a high threshold for pain.  So when I hear from her that she has to go to the doctor, at first, I couldn’t help but worry.  It turned out that she was sent from the urgent care to the emergency room! However, thankfully, in the end, she was ok.  They figured out what was wrong with her and treated the cause of the pain, but it was scary for a little while.  I thought about finding someone else to teach for me during the 11:00 a.m. youth service and then rush to the urgent care, but somehow, as I prayed with her over the phone, God reassured me that she was going to be okay.

I knew that her parents would be with her as well, so this was helpful, but there is a peace that truly only comes from God which, “surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7 ESV) that was gave me this sense of calm.  I am so thankful to God for letting His presence be felt in both of our lives during this trial.

The Apostle Paul wrote the epistle (letter) of Philippians from a Roman prison cell around A.D. 60 to the church in Philippi.  Joy and gratitude are a couple of prevalent themes, and given Paul’s situation, there are many lessons that we can learn from this letter.  Paul ends this letter by stating, “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” (Philippians 4:12 ESV).  You see, Paul was revealing a profound, yet simple truth: Paul got it, he understood the secret to being content – the answer to the secret is found in the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ!

When Paul faced horrible conditions and ruthless jailers, he was strengthened through Jesus.  When he had plenty and was not being beaten, starved or shipwrecked, he was again being strengthened through Jesus.  Paul recognized this, that Jesus is infinitely valuable, and therefore, in any situation, he possessed the most prized thing in the entire universe (I Corinthians 6:10).  That means when he had everything from an earthly/material standpoint, he still had nothing compared to Jesus.  And yet when he was lacking, even to the point of death, he still had everything in Jesus, the source of all life and eternal salvation (Hebrews 5:9).  Paul prospered through pain or through pleasure because he knew source of real wealth, Jesus.  There was never a situation that Paul could not face because he knew that in every situation he was not left to fend for himself, because he had Jesus.  In addition, guess what?  If you are a Christian, then you are not going through life alone.  Our God, Jesus, goes ever before us, His Spirit is always at work in us, and He always has works that He wants to bring to completion through us.

“So what,” you may say.  Thanks for the motivational speech, but I am going through some tough stuff right now. Jesus knows what you are going through, and He can and will help you through it just as he helped Paul, if we ask for His help, and trust Him to work things out on His terms.

Therefore, here are a couple of questions for you to think about.

Can you prosper through pain as well as pleasure?  Or, do you have a skewed view of prosperity and hardship?

Realize today that Jesus is our ultimate treasure, and there is no one thing or person on heaven or on earth that compares to His worth.  It is really easy to quote Philippians 4:13 and try to make it a motivational mantra but, it’s entirely another thing to honestly say and mean it from the heart that, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me,” when you truly understand the context of this verse.  I encourage you to read the book of Philippians today (there are only four chapters), and pray for your heart and mind to be transformed as Paul's was.

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