I spent some time in Philippians this morning, pausing to smile over the familiar passage in Philippians 4:13.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
I wish I could remember how old I was when I first memorized that verse. In my family, it was one of those “bedrock” verses that you learned early, right up there beside John 3:16 and Romans 8:28. God often shakes me out of self-satisfied, complacent Christianity by choosing to speak to me through something I’ve read a thousand times. I’ll spend hours scouring through some obscure passage in Nahum searching for a revelation only to hear His voice come crashing through my circumstances and into my heart through John 8:32 (another one I memorized as a child, though this one was largely due to the fact that my dad preached several sermons on it).
What captivated me this morning was the context of Philippians 4:13. Paul is talking about the kindness of the Philippians, and how often they blessed him with gifts when he was in need. He then rushes to assure them that his praise for their generosity is not a hint that he needed anything, saying that he had learned to be content regardless of his situation.
God is pressing me toward gratitude on a daily basis. I get it more on some days than others. Paul’s statement—that he learned to be grateful in all things—blessed me so much because it is after saying this that he writes Philippians 4:13. His contentedness was not an easy thing. He had to learn it. He had to persevere to gratitude. And it was only through the strength of Christ that he had the grace to be content.
I often feel dissatisfied and unhappy with my life. Invariably, after I express my dissatisfaction, I begin to feel condemned for being ungrateful. While I never want to minimize the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, or excuse poor behavior that stems from an ungrateful heart, the Lord reminded me this morning that it’s only by His power that I am able to see the good in all things. Wallowing in how much I “missed it” the day before will only hinder me from progressing today. My only option is to press delete on the past and keep going.
I choose to be grateful. On some days I will be more successful than on others. Some days will be easier than others. What matters is if I keep going, beating my ungrateful nature into submission and fixing my eyes on the ultimate goal.
If we keep going, we win.