Philippians 4:13: I Can Deal With All Things

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” -Phil. 4:13

The Football Verse
Many people are familiar with this verse because it has served as inspiration to millions of athletes and entrepreneurs who are trying hard things. Whatever you want to do, you can do it because Christ will give you strength. But what if what you want to do is stupid, physically impossible, unethical, or just not what God wants? Will you still have Christ’s superpower? This verse never seemed to help me play “the floor is lava” in college. Sometimes you just can’t make it from the couch to the kitchen counter.

This is not to knock Tim Tebow and others who have promoted this verse. In fact, when he wore it on his eye black during one of his many championships (championships, as a UGA fan, that hurt me to recall), Philippians 4:13 briefly became the most searched term on Google. Whatever makes people read the Bible.

While I think this use is at best a little too narrow and at worst a complete misunderstanding, I still think it needs to be one of the most memorized verses in the Bible—for a completely different reason.

Paul’s Imprisonment
When Paul writes these words, he writes them to the church at Philippi while he’s in prison. In the letter, he shares how the life of Christ leads us to self-sacrifice, to pressing on to perfection, to focusing on the good in life and letting God deal with our anxieties. Then, he comes to this verse.

Recession Proof
He’s thanking the Philippians for their generosity, but also making sure they don’t feel guilted by his comment. In fact, he doesn’t need anything. He’s learned to be content with having a lot. He’s learned to be content with being poor. He’s learned to be content with hardship. Implicit in this paragraph is that he’s even learned to be content with being in prison.

What’s his secret? He can do all things through Christ who strengthens him. A more direct translation from the Greek might be this: I have strength in all things through him who strengthens me. This sounds even more like a football verse, so let me show you the CEB version that I think really gets at the heart of it.

“I can endure all these things through the power of the one who gives me strength.” -Phil. 4:13, CEB

Dealing with Anxiety, Hardship, and Grief
In other words, whatever he faces in this life, Christ will see him through. Whether it’s fear of the future (c.f., 4:6), pain of loss, or trouble in the present, Christ will give a peace that transcends understanding. There’s no promise that you’ll win the football game. There’s no promise that your business venture will work out. There’s no promise that you’ll be saved from the trials and heartache of this life. But there is a promise that God will carry you and strengthen you in the midst of it.
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