Confession: Sometimes I pray for selfish strength.
I love this verse and have said it to myself hundreds of times. The problem is that when I read or say this verse, what I am really thinking is “I can GET THROUGH all things with the strength He gives me.” Most of the time when I pray for strength from God, it is because I don’t like my circumstances. I am frustrated. I am bitter. I am discontent. Like when I hated my first “real” job and where my husband and I lived for the first 2 years of our marriage. Or when I was potty-training a two-year-old with a newborn and a hormonal 4 year-old. Or when I am fighting temptation to “chase perfection.” Or when I’ve said yes to too many things and wish I could crawl under a rock.
My motive is completely wrong when I do this. I want to cause change with my prayer. I want my “bad” circumstances to come to an end…really soon. I want it over. I want to survive without shattering everything I’ve worked for.
Today’s daily verse on the You Version App is Philippians 4:13. This morning I read it and realized I’ve never considered the context of this verse, so I read the entire chapter. Paul is writing to the Philippians, people in a church he helped start in the city of Philippi. He has gone through physical beatings and faced adversity from religious and political leaders. He has gone hungry and sat in prison unjustly. He misses the people he loves. And this is what he says,
“11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 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. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13)
Paul is not talking about “getting through” beatings or time in prison until the day he can live comfortably and put his feet up or live his dreams of being the world’s best tent maker. He says he knows how to and has learned the secret of facing…whatever comes in life. What does he mean? In everything, he has learned to be content. How and what is this secret???
It is his perspective on life. Life on earth is a gift from God. It’s hard and heartbreaking sometimes. But if we can just look at the eternal hope we have and why we are even here, we will be able to face each circumstance and really LIVE it. We don’t have to love or even like our circumstances. We just need to love our God and believe his promises. We can live into his promises – He gives us strength to LIVE. And live well. He gives us the strength we need to be patient while he works out the kinks in our attitudes on life and changes our earthly priorities to eternal ones. He gives us the strength to fight temptations and love freely without needing anything in return. He gives us what we need to live for him…not ourselves.
I’m gonna leave it at that today. I need to chew on this some more before going a little deeper. What do you think? How do we gain this new perspective?