The Strength to Face All
I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me. – Philippians 4:13
At this point in his letter, which has been full of powerful theological insights, as well as, friendly instructions and admonitions, Paul’s tone gets very personal. He writes about how he had been away a long time from them, missing their care for him. I think he is revealing something here that is very familiar to all of us in our honest self-reflections. He seems to be saying that he knows, intimately, the very human conflict that we all experience in our hearts and minds, that conflict between our finite, self-concerns and the powerful knowledge, challenge, and encouragement, that our faith in God gives us.
He writes, “…I don’t mean that you had stopped caring for me…” (Phil. 4:10) This sounds a lot like me, like all of us. Isn’t that something we all crave? Don’t we all yearn for relief from our loneliness through the expressions of care that others might have for us? Then, Paul quickly follows that wistful comment with, “And I am not saying this because I feel neglected, for I have learned to be satisfied with what I have. I know what it is to be in need and what it is to have more than enough…I am content, whether I have too much or too little. I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.” (Phil. 4:11-13)
There is a powerful message for us here. We can not escape our humanity. But if we do the hard work, in the faith that God so generously gives us, of adopting the virtuous habits of humility and thanksgiving, God’s grace will enable us to do things far beyond our wildest dreams. Christ, the one who though, “his state was divine, did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave, and became as men are…” (Phil. 2:6-7), will empower us, like he did Paul, to be the Christ-like human beings he made us to be. His care is eternal. He asks us only to believe in Him with all of our being. He will take care of all the rest.