Christians lack faith sometimes. In our society, we have things far easier than when Christianity originated nearly 2000 years ago. Because of the apparent ease in our lives, we find it more difficult to persevere through certain situations. How many of us have made it through very tough conditions or problems? I would say that probably all of us have made it through such circumstances. But how many of us, if we were told before hand of the difficulty, would have said, “I can make it through that with no problem.”
When we moved near the Texas panhandle town of Clarendon, we were able to experience one of the hottest summers they ever had, as well as one of the harshest winters. The extremes were amazing. With no air conditioning, at times we would lay our one-year old son down for his nap and it was 90 degrees in the room. The highest it got was 93. Even with fans aimed at him, the dry heat was still hot. In the winter, we were in store for culture shock. We had a vented wall heater in the living room and one in the bedroom. In other words we had a propane tank outside and no central heat. We all slept in the one large bedroom. On the first real cold night we kept the heater in the bedroom high enough to keep it 67 degrees in the room. I went outside the next morning to check the gauge on the propane tank. The gauge may have been malfunctioning, but it read that we had used 5% percent of our propane by keeping it 67 degrees in our room for one night. We made a decision right then to sleep in the smaller living room with the French doors closed to the adjacent dining room. We were able to keep it about 65 degrees or so in there and not use all our propane. But once we opened those French doors to venture to the bathroom, we stepped into the low 50s. We only had to live like that for a few months. Looking back at those times living near Clarendon, they were some of the most relaxed times of our life together, but at the same time, they were trying times. If someone would have told us about some of the trials we endured there before hand, we might not have moved. The extreme heat and cold were nothing compared to some of our problems back then, but we wouldn’t exchange living there for anything.
I spoke about a couple of our humorous problems to show how little they were in comparison to those of other people, especially the Apostle Paul. He learned to be content or as the original language helps to point out, he learned to be independent of his situations. When he states in Philippians 4:13 that he can do all things through Christ, Paul means he can make it through the situations mentioned in the previous verse and all circumstances in-between without them affecting him negatively. What kind of circumstances might those have been? A quick look at II Corinthians 11:24-28 discusses some of the events in Paul’s life: five times he received lashes, three times he was beaten with rods, stoned one time, shipwrecked three times, adrift at sea for a day and night, in danger from rivers, robbers, and from his own people, from Gentiles, he was in danger in the city and the wilderness, danger from false brethren and from the sea, often without food, and there was danger from cold and exposure.
Paul had it rough. During some of his trying circumstances, he even sang hymns to God. Let us remember to understand Philippians 4:13 in the same way the writer of it intended. He didn’t mean a garbage man through Christ could walk into a research laboratory and find a cure for cancer. Paul meant that through Christ, he could be content in any and all situations. A better translation would be that he didn’t let his circumstances affect him negatively. It absolutely worked for Paul; it can work for us too.
Yours in Christ,