One day a small boy was trying to lift a heavy rock. He strained with all his might, but he couldn’t budge it.
His father, passing by, stopped to watch his futile efforts.
Finally he said to his son: “Are you using all your strength?’
“Yes, I am!” the boy cried, exasperated.
“No,” the father said calmly, “You’re not. You haven’t asked me to help you.”
The child needed to learn to depend upon his father, as an added source of strength.
In one of the great verses of the Bible, we are reminded that we have a great source of spiritual strength when we face trials, suffer hardship, or encounter burdens that are too heavy for us to bear alone.
The apostle Paul affirmed, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13)
According to Gateway.com this verse is one of the most referenced verses of their on-line Bible. Unfortunately, this often quoted verse is almost as often misunderstood, misused , misapplied.
This passage is not promoting possibility thinking. Nor is it the subject of boosting self-esteem. Paul is not daring his readers to dream big dreams! Think fantastic thoughts! And achieve great goals by simply saying, “I can!”
In the previous three verses Paul says, “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (Phil 4:10-12).
Paul had suffered much for Christ. Beatings. Stoning. Imprisonment. Shipwreck. Perilous situations. Misrepresentation. Hunger. Thirst. Weariness. And sleepless nights. Why did he keep going? What was the secret of his contentment? Where did he find help? How did he overcome adversity? Who was his source of strength?
The answer to all of these questions in found in verse 13 – CHRIST!
Jeff Strite tells the story about a highly regarded and well-respected preacher, Owen Crouch. He had retired from full-time preaching and lived on a limited income. So he was delighted when some businessmen approached him about joining their company. Because of his sterling reputation, they wanted him to be their treasurer.
Crouch was given a decent salary to sign the company’s paperwork and make out its checks. However, the company turned out to be a fraud. The business men were dishonest. When the officers of the company were taken to court the only man whose name was on the paperwork was… you guessed it – his. He went to jail.
Jeff asks an important question, “How would you have responded to that situation?”
Owen Crouch hadn’t done anything wrong. He was lied to. Used. Exploited. And victimized. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t right.
But Owen Crouch didn’t think about it that way. He saw it as an opportunity to serve the Jesus he loved. He began a prison ministry. He preached. He counseled. And he baptized prisoners into Christ.
Owen Crouch truly knew and lived the meaning of Philippians 4:13.
This wonderful verse offers us help and hope today. It says you can bear any burden. Cope with any trial. Perform any duty. Overcome any temptation. Deal with any adversity. Contend with any challenge. Conquer any weakness. And subdue Satan’s cunning schemes.
Wherever you are in the world, whatever you are facing today, you can find contentment, feel consolation, and receive strength.
Stop trying to lift the load by yourself. Ask your Father. He’s willing to help.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman