“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 this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11-13)
You’ve probably seen the last sentence of that passage on a t-shirt or a meme. It’s often misquoted to mean that as long as I have Christ, there’s nothing I can’t do. Is that what Paul is saying?
Paul wrote Philippians while he was in prison. Let that sink in – a man sitting chained up in a jail cell is saying he is perfectly content. If anyone had a right to wish for something different, to wish for more possessions, a different position, better relationships, and a change in environment, it was Paul. But he was content.
Now, if in that context he had meant that with Christ there’s nothing he can’t do, he could have hulked out, broken his chains, bent the bars, and walked right out of prison. But he didn’t need to do that to be content. He had Jesus. To him, that was enough.
Is it enough for us? It might be hard, at times, to say yes, even though we desperately want to. We know we have these desires in our hearts, and we just can’t let go of them so easily. But just as Jesus strengthened Paul to say, “It’s all good,” so he can strengthen us.