“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” This is what Philippians 4:13 says. I have always loved this verse, and now do, even more so, as it has become the favorite verse of my 11-year-old son.
He quotes this verse often and wears a simple cross necklace with this reference displayed. Even recently as my husband and I, and both boys visited with an old friend who’s been battling cancer, he reminded me of this verse as we got up to leave. I was trying to encourage her and reminding her of God’s presence in her situation, and he innocently looked at me and said, “Mom, don’t forget Philippians 4:13.”
Ahhh, the innocent wisdom of a child. So direct, so honest, and so spot on. He was so right to remind me of this verse in this moment, as it was the perfect one to encourage our friend with. Afterall, these are not just words of positivity, they are words of faith and power.
Philippians 4:13 is really a mindset, not just a phrase or words loosely thrown around. In today’s world, it is SO incredibly easy to adopt a mindset of defeat. To constantly hear our minds, say, (and believe), “I can’t do it.” There are factors that come at us daily that will knock us down and defeat us if we allow them to. Much of the time, the single factor that does this the most, is our very own thoughts.
For example, have you ever been going along, and life is running smoothly but then out of nowhere, had something occur that sends your thoughts spinning and whirling in the complete opposite direction? Everything was great and wonderful, but now this obstacle or challenge has made your world look different and just plain difficult? I know I have had this happen in my life numerous times- we all have. It’s inevitable- this is simply the nature of this earthly life.
For me, when challenges occur, if I’m not diligent in keeping awareness to the direction of my thoughts, before I know it, I will end up in a very negative state of mind. My mind will feel defeated, as well as my body. My energy will be zapped, and I’ll feel tired and demotivated. The body and mind are so deeply intertwined that this is just how it goes.
The mind is an interesting thing. It is designed to think (obviously). The challenge for us, is to become masters at controlling these thoughts. We often experience the domino effect when it comes to our thoughts, especially the negative ones. Meaning, one thought spills into another and another, and before we know it, we are left with a whole pile of negative, energy depleting thoughts, and we simply feel awful.
What if though, when obstacles came up in life, instead of looking at them as obstacles, we looked at them as benefits, and even assets to our overall life? What if we took on the Philippians 4:13 approach to our thinking?
You might be thinking, “How is this possible? You don’t know or understand the obstacle I am facing.”
True- I don’t, but I do know that a mindset of defeat, anger, resentment, and/or worry will not help you or serve you, no matter what you are facing.
Philippians 4:13 is the opposition to a mindset of “I can’t” or “this is too big” or “this just can’t work.” Notice it doesn’t say, “I can do some things or a few things through Christ who strengthens me.” No, it says, “I can do ALL things,” and great news, your obstacles is part of “ALL things.”
So how do we apply this verse to real life obstacles, challenges, and difficulties? Well, the direction is simple, but the actual application is not. Don’t let this discourage you though. Just because applying this will take consistent work does not mean you can’t do it. Afterall, if the end result is a mindset of victory verses a mindset of defeat, it’s worth it right??
So, what’s the simple direction? This- every time a negative, defeated thought comes up, bring your mind to Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Even say it aloud as you think it.
Sounds easy enough right? In essence it is, but the challenging part is raising your awareness to the type of thoughts and thought patterns you tend to have (this is technically called metacognition), and then rewiring your brain to think in this positive and powerful way instead. If we are using the domino analogy, it’s stopping the dominoes after just one or two of them fall…not continuing to let them fall into one big heaping pile. This takes mind discipline and herein lies the challenging part.
I recently heard someone on a podcast I was listening to say, “We don’t have to think about whatever the devil offers up to us….be intentional with your thinking.”
Some of you might say, “That’s a little extreme…the devil is sending me negative thoughts??”
Yeah, I know it sounds like a bit much, but in all reality it is not. Satan most definitely wants to defeat us- in any way he can, and he will creep in with the littlest of things…things that we don’t really even notice (our thoughts) that overtime, can become very big roadblocks in our lives.
So yes absolutely, when you are met with an obstacle, Satan wants you to feel and be defeated. He wants you to lose and give up. But good news- God wants otherwise. He wants you to depend on Him and remember exactly what Paul said, “I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.”
When we start doing this, and the rewiring of thought patterns begins to take a positive direction rather than a negative one, power within us is unleashed. Yes, that’s right- actual power. Sounds extreme again, right? I know, but it’s not.
This power gives us the ability to see obstacles in a whole new light because we realize they are not roadblocks; they are just an unexpected detour. We find work arounds and solutions, and we become masters at getting back on track. The things that used to throw us off course, no longer do.
This is where we begin to accumulate benefits and assets. Of course, I don't mean material benefits and assets- I mean something even better. Every time we have victory over an obstacle, we gain more strength and confidence in our overall ability. We start collecting evidence that we are not defeated, but instead are strengthened and empowered through whatever life throws our way. Our overall mindset begins to make a big, powerful, positive shift.
We start seeing solid evidence in our very own lives that yes, indeed, we CAN do ALL things through Christ who strengthens us. There is nothing that is too big or too hard.
So, today or tomorrow or whenever life throws its next challenge my way, I’ll do my best to quickly remember what my sweet and wise son told me, “Don’t forget Philippians 4:13." I hope you will do the same.