Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Finding Strength in Hardship

Something just hit me today, regarding Philippians 4:13, and I had to go look up the context. This is, I believe, the first verse I ever memorized--that is, my parents encouraged me to memorize it because I would always whine about "I can't!" Yes, it is a powerful verse, and the entire Bible stands behind the message it presents, when read at face value.

Back to the context, though. I think this verse has almost always been taken out of context. The STRENGTH that Paul refers to is not the Go-Forth-and-Do-Exploits Power we always think of. In fact, it is a much more powerful power--flowing, of course, from the same Source--the power to endure and thrive in uncomfortable situations. Ouch! We like to think about having more Might for Exploits, but we don't like to consider our, often more important need, for Strength to Carry On.

Paul speaks of being content whether in need or in abundance. It builds character, it does away with the drive to whine, and most important of all, it flows from the One Who gives us strength for this and all other aspects of our walk in this world.

Read it again!...

11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.