Going to a restaurant, seeing a movie at the theater, running over to the Library to check out some books, simply having people over for dinner. I honestly didn’t think I’d be giving up this much for Lent. This has been a frustrating time for all of us, and it will continue while we wait for clarity on what comes next in a constantly fluid situation. But while we wait, it is good to remember the strength God gives to us.
I can do all things through Him who gives me strength. It’s likely that you’ve heard this Bible passage before. It’s Philippians 4:13. Sometimes it’s misused, like when a Christian says it as they are about to try and accomplish a difficult task. Someone about to climb Mount Everest might say “I know the mountain is huge, and many people have tried and failed, and hundreds have died trying, but I don’t need to worry because ‘I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.’
It’s good to have faith in God. It’s important to look to Him for strength in everything we do. But it’s also good and important to understand Scripture appropriately. No where in the Bible does it say “All Christian’s who set out to climb Mount Everest will survive and succeed.” The fact of the matter is, more than 300 people we know of have died climbing Mount Everest. Climbing any mountain is dangerous, but Mount Everest? It’s the world’s highest mountain, so of course it’s going to be dangerous!
The exact time and place when Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians is not clearly stated, but traditionally it has been considered a letter Paul wrote while in prison in Rome. This is important to remember; believing the Holy Spirit moved Paul to write the words ‘I can do all things through Him who gives me strength’ while likely sitting in a prison cell put a whole new spin on the concept.
Paul’s not writing these words as He’s about to try and climb a mountain or accomplish any other type of feat. He writes them knowing he can do nothing at all, but Paul still finds his strength in God. This makes sense reading the previous verses. Paul’s letter to the Philippians is written out of gratitude for them having supported him in the ministry. Beginning at verse ten Paul writes:
“10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
Verse twelve reveals to us the context of what Paul is talking about. In any and ever circumstance, Paul learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. Paul can do all things through Him who gives him strength. All that we’re enduring now, the isolation, the uncertainty, this is when we must remember it is God who gives us strength. Just as Paul could endure prison on the strength given to Him by God, we can endure this and all things on the strength God continues to give to us.
To respect those who are trying to keep a distance from others during this time, I’ll not be initiating visits. But if you desire a visit, and if I’m able to do so, please contact the church and I’ll be happy to visit with you. I look with joy to the day we’re able to gather again for worship in our sanctuary.
Until then, I’ll continue recording the services and posting them online. If you or someone you know doesn’t have a way to watch the services online, please contact the church and we can have a DVD made for you. If that is also not an option, the services will continue to be broadcast on the television and radio station as they have been before.
Until we’re able to meet together again, and while you’re waiting for answers to questions which we’re all asking, remember the truth you can be certain of when it seems like everything else wavers: God is all powerful. There is no virus which can defeat Him or take away His control over all things. While this world can leave us fearful and trembling at times, your strength as a Christian is in Jesus’ death and resurrection. By this you’re freed from captivity to this world because you live with the assurance of life with God in the world to come.
In Christian love, Pastor Kyle McBee