But is that really what Paul means? If I want to play basketball like LeBron James, will Jesus give me the strength to do that? If I want to climb to the top of our church steeple like Spiderman, will Jesus give me the ability to do that? If I want to become debt-free, pain-free, worry-free by noon on Saturday, will Jesus give me the blessing and the strength to get there? He could, but he likely won’t.
Consider the context. Paul is in prison. It’s just house arrest, but he doesn’t deserve to be there. It’s unfair. It’s a hardship and a struggle. However, in the verses just before our text, Paul writes: “I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me…I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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.” (vv. 10-12)
Then he writes the familiar words, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Considering the context, Paul is saying that even though he’s in a challenging situation, he knows that he will get through because Jesus is with him and will give him strength.
These words are so meaningful to us as well. When we are sad or feeling down, when we’re enduring grief or pain, when we’re going through difficult and painful situations, we know that we can be content. We know that we will get through. We will endure. Why? Jesus is with us and he gives us strength.
Jesus, our Savior, provides everything we need for every time and circumstance in life. He’s already provided forgiveness of sins and life with God through his sacrifice on the cross. He confirmed these great gifts through his resurrection. He has come to each of us personally and given the gift of faith in order to cling to him and to receive his strength.
Where does Jesus’ strength come from? Does it come from looking within myself? Does it come from reading or watching inspirational stories in the news? Does it come from my own will and perseverance? Christ’s strength comes only from his Word and Sacraments. Daily, we can feast on the rich pastures of his Word. Daily, we can remember our Baptism. And in Holy Communion, Jesus offers personal, tangible assurance that I am his and he is mine.
Truly, I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength!
Lord Jesus, you are always with me. Thank you for your presence. Thank you for your strength. I am able to endure all things through you. I am able to do everything that matters through the strength you provide in Word and Sacrament. Lord, lead me to come to you, to listen, to eat and drink, and live. Amen.
30 Days of Gratitude: #15 – Good government; this comes to mind today as I pay my quarterly taxes;
God grant our leaders at every level of government wisdom and insight to
In Christ who gives me strength,
Pastor Stephen Luchterhand