“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
When I was in junior high I wanted to play on the school basketball team. However, I was also short, chubby, slow, and not very skilled in the game. But, I had played before and thought if I worked hard enough I could make the team.
The day of the try-outs came and I remember quoting this familiar verse to myself as I took the court. I was certain that God would give me the strength to make the team but I was utterly disappointed when I was cut.
If you’re familiar with the Bible and particularly with this verse, you have probably had a similar experience. Too many times, we go ahead with our own plans and then ask God to bless whatever we decide to do. We might even quote this verse as we move forward with our own plan for success.
Thankfully, the 2 verses that come before this verse help us understand what Paul was talking about. He writes, “…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” Paul is writing about being content even in the midst of suffering. He is not asking God to deliver him from hard times, he is asking God to help him be content in the midst of them.
As Paul suffered (shipwrecks, stonings, beatings, etc…) he asked God to give him strength to be faithful and serve others for the sake of Christ.
When we understand the larger scope of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, we see that this verse isn’t about our plans at all. It’s actually about being content with God’s plan. In all reality, it was God’s will that I be cut from the basketball team because I would have been a terrible player and that’s ok. I was asking God to bless my selfish plan but looking back, God gave me the strength I needed AFTER the fact so that I could learn to be content with who he made me to be.