“Were the talents and virtues which heaven has bestowed on men given merely to make them more obedient drudges, to be sacrificed to the follies and ambition of a few? Or, were not the noble gifts so equally dispensed with a divine purpose and law, that they should as nearly as possible be equally exerted, and the blessings of Providence be equally enjoyed by all?” President Samuel Adams
… I can do all things through him who strengthens me…
To be able to do all things, I must first know how to access the Lord’s strength and before I am able to do that, I must have both an awareness that I need His strength AND the experience of actually being in need.
“I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.” Philippians 4:12
I have tasted sorrow. I have felt pain. I have lived through brief moments of darkness but never have I found myself living in these states in continuum inertia. To need this kind of strength is to find one’s self at the absolute end, even to the point of near death. Paul found himself many times at this place, understanding that his very next moment might very well be his last.
I think, however; even more importantly, Paul knew what it was like to need God’s strength in those polar opposite moments, as well. How many of us think about needing God’s strength when we are on top of the summit, at life’s absolute best? When was the last time I prayed for God to give me strength when things couldn’t possibly be any better? That’s odd, to me, to think about. But look again at verse 12 and isn’t that exactly what Paul is saying here?
(V.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.”
Paul knew how to abound; he knew the secret of facing “plenty” and “abundance” and it is clear that he never emphasizes one over the other. People face different circumstances, and though some may appear more difficult then others, to God every person’s personal plights and pains are relevant to Him. Whatever we have had to go through, God has been there and to a certain degree, we’ve all needed strength to persevere… strength we almost certainly did not have. I understand this. I am even able to absorb an utilize that strength on occasion. But for me, I treat the Lord’s strength more like a tool to be put away when I’m finished with it then a garment that I put on each day. For Paul, it was a life-style, a way of living continually. That’s why he could say “in every circumstance” because for him, it didn’t matter what he was experiencing or what he was going through. The balanced life treats each moment the same, approaches every circumstance identically. In this life-style, God becomes the source of every muscle, every breath, every movement and every thought. And God’s Holy Spirit acts as our filter, helping us know what’s important to God and what we can simply walk away from. Yeah… it’s weird to articulate and explain, even to myself. But it still makes sense – even when I can’t explain it exactly right! But I do know this: I have an idea of where my strength comes from in all difficulties. I want to be able to say the same for those times of blessing and triumph. I want to start facing abundance and plenty like I face adversity and need: in the knowledge that I really CAN do all things through Christ who gives me strength! When I learn this, I am most certain that I will abound with Joy and strength, whether I am being brought low or raised high…
Peace, Sean Gutteridge.
Today’s Scripture: Philippians 4:12-13
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.