I was never destined to be a Major League Baseball pitcher. No matter how many tennis balls I threw at the crawl space door as a boy. Regardless of my hopes and dreams and imaginary games I played in my head. I was about 13 years old when my little world was shattered with the truth – God didn’t bless me with the physical ability (or a curve ball).
Same goes for being a brain surgeon – it wasn’t going to happen. No amount of effort could make up for a seriously deficient IQ. And I could memorize and recite Philippians 4:13 all I wanted to no avail – but “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” isn’t a secret Christian self-help formula that defies natural laws.
Philippians 4:13 is wildly taken out of context. It’s displayed on wall art, T-shirts, painted on the faces of NFL players, etc., while ignoring the 3 preceding verses and discounting the life of the man who wrote it. Let’s back up to verse 10.
“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”
Paul says that no matter his state or circumstances – shipwrecks, cold and nakedness, hunger, frequent imprisonments, multiple beatings with rods and whips, snake bites, a stoning, abandonment by friends, false accusations, sleepless nights and more, that Jesus Christ is enough for him.
None of these hardships stopped Paul from proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ because Jesus gave him and would continue to give him the strength to endure. Paul could be content in all things because he had Jesus in all things.
That’s the point.
It’s ironic, actually. I’ve probably used Philippians 4:13 as motivation for personal goals rooted In discontentment instead of relying on the strength of Jesus to be grateful and content in the blessings I have.
I’ll never be a MLB pitcher or a brain surgeon, but God does give me the ability to be content.