“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12-13)
I used Philippians 4:13 to encourage a friend recently but in doing so realized I also could benefit from the truth in this verse myself! I saw how the encouragement I gave to someone else can also apply to things going on in my own life. Does this ever happen to you?
Thinking about this verse some more, the questions came pouring out of me: “Where do I get my strength? Where does it come from right now? And why do I feel the need to cling to so tightly to this verse at this moment?” So I decided to dig a little deeper into the surrounding passage in Philippians.
I looked and saw Paul talking in the previous verses about being content through all situations. It seemed somehow it all hinged upon the fact Paul trusted Christ as his source of strength through the good and the bad. But then I wondered why it is so hard for me, a Christ-follower as well, to find this kind of contentment Paul is talking about?
Something which helped me discover the answer to that question was finding the Philippians passage in a different translation: “I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.“ (Phil 4:12-13 MSG)
The Message version shows it is more about placing one’s trust in Christ than about finding strength and contentment in the midst of your circumstances. While those last two things are good in and of themselves, they are merely byproducts of discovering where a person’s true identity should lie – in Christ Jesus. Following this line of thinking, I was reminded of this song:
I lift my eyes up unto the mountains
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from You, Maker of Heaven
Creator of the earth
Oh, how I need You Lord, You are my only hope
You’re my only prayer
So I will wait for You to come and rescue me
To come and give me life
I then came back to the questions which started it all: “Where do I get my strength? Where does it come from right now? And why do I feel the need to cling to so tightly to this verse at this moment?” I now saw that behind all these questions was the fact I had been putting who am I in something other than Christ. I’d been placing my identity in doing well in my job, in who I am as a writer, or in quality relationships with family and friends. However, the problem was that if any of these areas felt threatened, my sense of strength and contentment would vanish.
And maybe that in itself is a key point: my feelings were based on a mirage in the first place. These places I was looking to as a source of strength and contentment could never give me what I truly was searching for – a desire to be known, loved and appreciated simply for who I am. But what better place to look to for in this than the One who created me!
After working through these inner struggles, I can now say with confidence: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.“ (Psalm 139:13-14). This truth can be more than enough for me as I continue my journey toward finding wholeness in Christ.
**I’m linking up today with Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart. Click on the image below to find some other great posts in the linkup**