O the Philippians 4:13 battle cry. We all know it, quote it, and stand on it. It gives us great confidence in our abilities through Christ but where this verse really shines is in realizing that it’s not actually about our abilities, but rather, it’s about our inabilities.
When we look at the full context of the verse we see that Paul was expressing his contentment to suffer and endure hardship and affliction for the sake of humility. The church of Philippi had sent him some form of support and though he thanked them for it, he also made a point to inform them that sometimes what looks like a curse is really a blessing in disguise. For him, after much seeking The Lord to remove this affliction, he had come to realize that he needed it, at least for a season. He had come to know himself enough to understand that because of the mighty way God was using him and the great revelation He was giving him, Paul needed the affliction to keep him humble and remind him of his dependency on God. It reminded Paul that, though used mightily by God, he was just a man and it was only the power of God coming through him that was actually doing these great things and not he himself. Not only for Paul’s sake but the people’s also because, seeing his feebleness in affliction, they were also reminded of Paul’s humanity and were more able to separate that from the power of God coming through him, rather than from him. Which had they not had this constant visual reminder would have most likely began to worship Paul, rather then God. Paul looked past himself and had come to realize the purpose in his pain and because of that was able to bare it with gratitude knowing that this was much bigger then him.
“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” – Philippians 4:11-13
It was in the seat of affliction that Paul learned to stand for God. We tend to want to hide our flaws and frailties but Paul realized that when people see how weak we are, it shows them how strong God is. I’m not talking about sin here, for we know that we are commanded to be Holy even as Christ is Holy (1 Peter 1:16), but rather physical afflictions. These were physical limitations not spiritual ones. Our physical flaws, frailties, and limitation reminds others that the great things we do for God are not done by us but simply through us by Him. He gets the glory and that’s the way it should be.
“For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:6-10
So never let the devil tell you that you are unqualified to be used by God. That you are too crippled, too ill, too young, too old, too reviled, too uneducated, or any other such lie. These are the most qualified of all peoples because it is only when the world sees the impossible strength of God coming from humbled vessels that they know they can not deny the strength, power, and majesty of the God operating in front of them. It’s a powerful testimony when our weakness allows the strength of God to shine forth in all it’s glory. This is the essence of how we overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony. (Revelations 12:12)
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.” – Acts 4:12-14