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I can do all things…

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Thursday 12th August 2021

I can do all things through him who strengthens me!

Paul’s triumphant declaration in Philippians 4:13 comes from a man in prison, suffering, surrounded by conflict, awaiting trial, and facing the very real prospect of execution.

Despite these terrible circumstances, Paul’s letter to the Philippians is often referred to as an epistle of joy. The care shown to him and the prayers offered for him by his friends in Philippi are an evident reason for this resilient joy. But they are not the deepest reason. Paul has ‘learnt the secret’ of resilient faith (v. 12): the sustaining grace and strength that comes from his union with Christ. Paul lived in the reality to which he commended the Philippians:

Stand firm in the Lord (Phil. 4:1)
Live in harmony in the Lord (4:2)
Rejoice in the Lord (4:4)
Recognise that the Lord is near (4:5)
Resist anxiety, bringing every concern to God in prayer so that the peace of God can guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (4:6-7)

Paul’s secret of a resilient faith was to live his life in the world from, and in accordance with, his position, hope, and union in Christ.

Jesus said much the same thing: “These things I have spoken to you so that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

In these times of stress, uncertainty, lockdown, and isolation we need the care and friendship of others. And as Christians we can be the friends that others need. And yes, one important way in which he strengthens us is through the love, care, and prayers of others. And yes!—one of the ways he will strengthen others is by sending us to be their friends in his name.

I am not aware of any Bible version that uses the word ‘resilience,’ but the Bible often portrays resilient faith, and admonishes us towards it. Meditating on the grace given to us in Christ is one key to growing a resilient faith. Paul had learnt the secret—and—he told it to us: We can do all things through him who strengthens us!

In the strength of him who strengthens us, let us stand firm in the grace and peace he so generously supplies.

In the strength of him who strengthens us, let us resist every temptation of fear, anxiety, hostility, or belligerence.

In the strength of him who strengthens us, let us serve those around us with kindness, patience, and empathy.

In the strength of him who strengthens us, let us practise resilient faith.

Written by Michael O'Neil

Dean of Campus - Perth Vose Campus and Lecturer in Christian Thought and History Michael has taught Christian Thought and History at Vose Campus in Perth since 2010. He has particular interests in the theology of Karl Barth, theological ethics, and the doctrine and practice of the Christian life. Michael says, “I love the way reading and studying theology has deepened my faith, broadened my vision, enriched my ministry and changed my life. I hope you find that studying theology brings you into closer proximity to and alignment with Jesus.” Recent Publications O’Neil, Michael D. & Peter Elliott (eds.), Beyond Four Walls: An Exploration of Being the Church (Eugene, OR.: Wipf & Stock, 2020) Church as Moral Community: Karl Barth’s Vision of Christian Life, 1915-1922 (Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2013) Hobby, N., Olley, J. & O’Neil, M. (eds.), Vose Seminary At Fifty: From “Preach The Word” to “Come Grow” (Melbourne: Mosaic Press, 2013).

Michael O'Neil's Blog