“I can do all things through him who gives me strength.“
How encouraging! Now for some context.
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. I can do all things through him who gives me strength.
The “all things” Paul is talking about here is not lifting weights or making a touchdown pass or getting that new job and giving God credit for our accomplishments. That would fall under the general umbrella of “all things”, certainly, but that isn’t what Paul is talking about here. What is Paul talking about?
Contentment. Being hungry or naked or in want and still being content.
We can quote this verse all day. We can write it on post it notes and plaster it all over our homes and still be miserable about our circumstances. It would help us to actually use this verse as a reminder to us when we lack contentment and be reminded that God can and will give us the strength to help us with that too.
No doubt! How many of us, like Paul there, can say that we “have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation”? Whoever can (honestly) say that, are the same who can also say that they can do the “all things”. As you pointed out, contextually, what Paul was so good at, and strengthened to do, was endure the most trying of circumstances, with total contentment. For example, when beaten bloody and locked down in prison FOR serving God, having the “strength” (contentment) to sing songs of praises, to the Most High.
Now THAT is some strength!
Thank you for this much-needed contextual reminder in a society that is so in love with self, with accomplishment, and with success, that it tends to see everything through that filter.
Yes, we kind of forget that Paul was imprisoned during this time. This was a personal statement about his situation that was meant to inspire others who would face persecution or at least be in positions they didn’t really want to be in. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. Now can we apply it to our life in general, I think so, because we all must realize that we are weak and need the strength God supplies, but then again this isn’t a statement to excel beyond how we are, but to be content where we are. And yet even in prison Paul was able to write and extend the Kingdom, so he was able to take the strength and use it towards doing what he could for God, not to dig a tunnel and escape.