March 7, 2016

Philippians 4:12-13 I 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. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Verse 13 is widely quoted out of context, which is to say, it is widely quoted and that is usually out of context. People want it to say, “I can do anything, period,” so that’s how they quote it, but that isn’t what it is saying at all. People would rather overlook verse 12 because it points out that life on this planet has lots of ups and downs; it’s not a bed of rose petals without any thorns. There are preachers who teach that “In Christ, everything is smooth sailing,” but they are charlatans. We are indeed “more than conquerors” in Christ, (Romans 8:37) but you can’t be a conqueror without having a battle! A careful, honest reading of the New Testament will tell you not to expect easy street. Tradition tells us that the only one of the original 12 apostles to die of old age was John, and that was after he had been exiled to Patmos and suffered various other things as well. Our goal is never to “have it easy,” but rather to do God’s will and grow closer to Him in the process. The point of what Paul is saying here is that life can be rough, but in Christ we can get through it. That is a message both of realism and hope, and it should make us rejoice.

I don’t think I have had a difficult life at all compared to many other people, but that’s not at all to say that everything has been smooth sailing. However, like Paul I have learned that in Christ I can get through whatever might confront me. When a problem looms up I may have no idea how I will get through it, but I can have complete peace that I will get through it. That’s a very good assurance to have! The past few months have been pretty rough at times because of my wife’s health issues, and we’re not completely through that yet. However, God has been present and He continues to be, so I have nothing to be anxious about. As a pastor I deal frequently with people who, because they don’t see how they will get through their current circumstances, have trouble believing they will get through them. My challenge is to help them see what I have seen, which is what Paul is talking about here. As God told me personally a few years ago, our task is to rest, relax, and rejoice, doing whatever the Lord directs but trusting Him to direct as needed, and leaving the results up to Him.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for all You did in the day yesterday. I forgot some pretty important things, so guide me in when and how to take care of them. However, You enabled me to do everything You knew was necessary at that time, so thank You. Thank You also for everything You have planned for today. Help me not be anxious about any detail of it, but rather flow with Your Spirit on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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