Saturday after Ash Wednesday
Psalm 43 Ezekiel 30:21-29 Philippians 4:10-20 John 17:20-26
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”. Philippians 4:13
Philippians 4:13 is one of the most recognizable bible verses in the world. You see it on coffee mugs, bumper stickers, t-shirts and even written on the shoes of famous athletes. You may have even heard someone saying the verse after a huge life accomplishment, like finishing college or running a marathon. Many people assume that the verse speaks to a certain amount of perseverance or work ethic; that with God’s help I can do anything I want to do in my life.
Many scholars believe that Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians while he was in prison. In his letter he recounts the previous trials and tribulations he experienced spreading the word of God, including beatings, hunger and imprisonment. And yet his letter has the overall tone of being optimistic, hopeful and even grateful for the opportunity to serve God and to bring others to Christ through his suffering. Instead of a message of “bringing God along” to help us out in whatever we want to accomplish in our lives, maybe the real lesson from this verse in Philippians is to be grateful even when we don’t cross that finish line; to be steadfast even when times are hard. Our call remains to serve God even during the trials that come from doing what God wants in our lives. We can’t always count on an easy road. Paul stayed true to God even when the times got rough. Maybe the NIV version said it better when it references Paul’s continued gratitude and devotion and states, “I can do all this through Christ who strengthens me.”