“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…” reads Philippians 4:13. This is perhaps one of the most used and quoted verses from the Bible. I mean, who wouldn’t be lifted up by such encouragement as to be told that I can do ALL things? I can leap the tallest building in a single bound! I can go out and spend as much money as I want to! I can fly to the moon and back without a space suit! I can quit my job and live off of love alone! I can go out and battle a fierce dragon and come back unscathed! Right?!?!?!
You see, often, we read this verse and we misuse it heavily. I myself am guilty of this. Instead of its intended meaning, we read it as “I can do EVERYTHING through Christ who strengthens me…” and this is not true. We cannot do anything. We cannot do everything.
I’ve been trying so hard lately to catch up on what I have let fall behind. I have been trying so hard to complete all the tasks and ideas that are roaming around inside my head. I’ve been trying so hard to do everything that I think I should be doing and in the past, anything I’ve wanted to do. I’ve been trying so hard to live the life that I want to live, that I’ve been neglecting to live the life that Christ wants me to live. I’ve been using this verse as an excuse to get what I want for so long. I’ve been using it as a shield to hide behind what God is calling me to do, what He is asking of me.
The context of this single verse is what brings the meaning to it. Here is the passage in its entirety Phillippians 11b-13:
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 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. 13 I can do all this through him who gives , me strength.
Here’s where this comes into play into my recovery. Paul is saying here that he has learned to be content with what he has. This verse relates to contentment not abundance. This verse does not give me permission to go out and do what I want to do. This verse does not mean I can go out and do everything, or that I can do anything. It also does not mean I can do nothing. This very powerful verse means that Christ within me allows me to be content with whatever situation in life I find myself in. In this lies within the struggle I now find myself in. Struggling with my mental health issues, I do not feel CONTENT to be struggling. I do not feel CONTENT that I cannot just stop my mental health issue, or that I may struggle with it for the rest of my life. I am quite often not CONTENT that I can’t seem to get my brain to stop shouting obscenities at me or to stop telling me all the horrible things that I’ve done wrong. I am not CONTENT with having a mental health issue. At all.
The beautiful truth is although I am not content right now right this minute does not mean I will never find myself content. This verse means that I will learn contentment through Christ who will help me learn. Where I am weak, being content through my struggle, Christ will help me. This means that if He will help me, then He will help you too. I hold onto the hope that Christ will help me be more like Him in that I will learn to be content with the resources and the life that I have been given. He will help me follow the calling He has asked me to dutifully perform and He will continue guiding me to learning His will.
Principle 5: Voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in my life and
humbly ask Him to remove my character defects.
Lord, help me to be more like You in every way. I submit to the changes you want to make in my life. Please remove my character defects and give me the strength to overcome my reluctance, doubt, and lack of trust I sometimes have. Lord, I trust that you will help me be content in Your will of helping me manage my mental health issue. I am trusting that you will make all things right if I surrender to Your will. Thank you for loving me even when I don’t love myself. Amen.
April Brantley, CR Mental Health Team X-Factor