“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” Philippians 4:13 (KJV)
This is truly a universal verse. Most of the world’s population knows this scripture, even atheist know this scripture. But what does it really mean? You’ll be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound? You’ll be faster than a speeding bullet? Could you be more powerful than a locomotive?
Why of course you can, you can do anything through Christ. But the reality is, we don’t think of ourselves as super heroes with super powers. There have been numerous reported cases in which people used super-human strength in times of danger. How about those cases in which a person had super strength to lift a car just to save someone? Or how about the man who had to cut off his leg in order to escape certain death? These are clear cases of Christ working through someone for his purpose.
Sometimes Christ gives us strength in subtle ways and sadly we don’t even recognize the fact that he just gave us strength to conquer the impossible (impossible in our mind that is). We accredit it to ourselves “Look at what I can do!” or we just ignore the fact that we just defeated failure.
My Mom recently had a similar experience. She’s been a widow for over 7 years. There are still things she has to deal with that she never thought would become an issue. When you’ve been with someone for over 40 years you don’t realize how much you depend on them until they’re gone.
A few of the issues my Mom has to deal with are pesky, everyday maintenance. Whenever there was a maintenance issue my Dad was there to save the day, my Mom never had to deal with it. If the faucet broke, my Dad was there. If the TV stopped working, my Dad was there. If an appliance was broken, my Dad was there. If my Mom needed a hug, my Dad was there. (Yes hugs are considered maintenance; they mend broken hearts don’t they?)
Recently her garbage disposal had a fight with potato peels and lost. She tried plunging the sink but just couldn’t get it unplugged. Eventually she knew she had to do something about it. My brother and I both spoke to her about how to unclog the sink but it involved removing pipes, a task she never had to do before. At first her thought was “I can do this!” After several calls to my brother for advice she was on her way to tackle this daunting task.
My Mom rolled up her sleeves and attempted to remove the clogged pipe. She tried and tried but she just couldn’t loosen the pipe. Although my brother had offered to do it for her, she knew this was something she had to do on her own. After trying with all her might and having no success, my Mom broke down. She felt defeated and alone. She cried until her eyes were puffy and red. Then suddenly a voice inside of her said “You need to get over yourself. Pick yourself up and go buy the tools you need to get the job done.”
So off to the store my Mom went swollen eyes and all. She came home with a nice ratchet set and went back to work. With the proper tools my Mom was able to loosen the pipe and remove all of the potato peels with ease. Once she put the pipe together and ran the water in the sink, she took a deep breath and realized that she did it, she conquered the impossible (in her eyes).
The result, a new sense of empowerment! She’s no longer afraid of something breaking or a problem arising. If she can do this she can do anything, through Christ of course. Matter of fact my Mom is thinking about building a small shed for her yard tools. The sky is the limit now. It’s been a long time since I have heard her speak with such joy and pride.
Some people may look at this as a task she completed on her own but that’s not so. As humans we are weak, it’s easier for us to wallow in self-pity and say I can’t do this and throw in the towel. What stopped her from doing that? Christ told her to get over it and buy the right tool to get the job done. He didn’t give her miraculous strength to remove the pipe, he instructed her on how to get the task done. After all, he also knew she needed to do this.
Sometimes we ask God to take care of an issue so that it will go away. Or we ask God to help us to do something we feel we can’t do on our own. When we fail we think God failed us but the truth is, he is strengthening you. That day my Mom found strength in her tears. There will be a time when you will have to find strength through your sweat and tears.
Maybe God allowed you to go through a rough spot to learn an important lesson. Maybe you didn’t receive what you had asked for because it wasn’t God’s will. Maybe you had to endure pain to be strength for someone else. Maybe you needed a moment of weakness to realize that our strength comes from Christ.
Don’t allow potato peels to clog your faith, use the tools God gave you for strength and don’t forget that sometimes strength is found in our weakest moments.