By J.D. ECARMA
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
It’s easy to see why Philippians 4:13 as a standalone verse has become a meme in Christian culture. God makes us strong enough to do anything. No one can stand in our way. Christ is the ultimate cheerleader.
Well, yes and no … like everything else in the faith, the full picture is much more complicated, vastly more painful and infinitely more glorious than any quick Facebook share can depict.
First of all, the verse should never be looked at it without its full context. Remember that the Apostle Paul is writing from imprisonment, where he still glorifies God with the reminder that “my chains are in Christ.” The beauty of “I can do all things” is in the buildup. Paul is saying “I have lived in terrible circumstances and good circumstances and have been content in both because of Christ.”
I know it doesn’t fit neatly into a meme, but here’s the passage:
We are called upon as Christians to be thankful “in everything”—even difficulty and struggle and need. Faith is what guides us through the grind of each ordinary day, carries us through impossible circumstances and lends meaning to our happiest earthly moments. By “all things,” Paul doesn’t mean that God guarantees us the ability to do anything and everything; he’s reminding us that we are guaranteed “joy no one will take from you” because our hearts and happiness are not tied to earthly circumstances.
On a day where we commemorate giving thanks and spend time with our loved ones, I want to remind you that every day in the Christian life is a Thanksgiving of sorts. Part of our calling is to be joyful and thankful in all circumstances—not just the ones that inspire us to put “#blessed” after a Facebook status.
I have a lot to be thankful for this year ... triumphs and struggles alike. And in each circumstance, I am thankful for a joy that no one can take away.
Jordan is a former journalist now living the millennial dream: getting paid for writing Facebook statuses (that is, digital PR). She watches her use of the f-word ("feminism") around conservatives and the c-word ("conservatism") around feminists. Find her under @JordanEcarma.