My heart overflows with joy when I think of how you demonstrated love to me by your financial support of my ministry. For even though you have so little, you still continue to help me at every opportunity. I’m not telling you this because I’m in need, for I have learned to be satisfied in any circumstance. I know what it means to lack, and I know what it means to experience overwhelming abundance. For I’m trained in the secret of overcoming all things, whether in fullness or in hunger. And I find that the strength of Christ’s explosive power infuses me to conquer every difficulty.
You’ve so graciously provided for my essential needs during this season of difficulty. For I want you to know that the Philippian church was the only church that supported me in the beginning as I went out to preach the gospel. You were the only church that sowed into me financially, and when I was in Thessalonica, you supported me for well over a year.
I mention this not because I’m requesting a gift, but so that the fruit of your generosity may bring you an abundant reward. I now have all I need—more than enough—I’m abundantly satisfied! For I’ve received the gift you sent by Epaphroditus and viewed it as a sweet sacrifice, perfumed with the fragrance of your faithfulness, which is so pleasing to God!
I am convinced that my God will fully satisfy every need you have, for I have seen the abundant riches of glory revealed to me through Jesus Christ! And God our Father will receive all the glory and the honor throughout the eternity of eternities! Amen!
– Philippians 4:10-20, The Passion Translation (TPT)
Years ago, I was a youth ministry leader for an international mission trip with our senior high school youth group; our verse of the week was Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens and empowers me.” As we worked day in and day out in the heat, we would recite this verse, it strengthened us for the work ahead. It was amazing to hear the students learn this verse and apply it in their lives throughout that service week, then in the months and years that followed.
Little did I realize that I also internalized this verse and used it as a spiritual weapon. I still recite this verse, adding emphasis on “ALL things, not some things but ALL things”, and am empowered to persevere a trial. However, over the past year, the Lord revealed new meaning of this passage as we have endured this global pandemic.
The Apostle Paul wrote this letter of thanks to the church in Philippi, the first church in Europe, from his jail cell in Rome. And his declaration here in these verses is astounding: “I have learned to be satisfied (or content) in ANY circumstance”. Paul acknowledges that he knows and has experienced the deep pain of unmet needs and desperate situations, and he has lived in overwhelming abundance, yet he declares he is satisfied in ANY situation. Paul’s contentment was not happiness; Paul’s contentment stemmed from joy. Happiness is a feeling that is typically based on our temporary circumstances and is externally centered on what we focus upon, achieve, chase after, and experience. Joy is the opposite of happiness; joy is an inward, deep assurance of God’s love and power in our lives at work no matter what our situation may be.
In verses 12-13, the Apostle Paul writes “For I’m trained in the secret of overcoming all things, whether in fullness or in hunger. And I find that the strength of Christ’s explosive power infuses me to conquer every difficulty”. Paul had finally understood that his personal joy came from aligning himself with God’s priorities, positioning himself with the proper perspective and posture before God, and trusting his source of strength from Christ alone.
Abba Father, the power of Christ and His joy within us can set us free from the constant search for whatever or whoever will make us happy. You are all that we need in every circumstance. Your power can infuse us with strength to overcome our temporary situations from the graves of depression, addiction, broken relationships, lost jobs, difficult pandemic life, and lost dreams as You, Heavenly Father, love and move us into the garden of new life in Christ. May we trust in Your promises and Your goodness and experience that You fully satisfy every need – we can claim all this from the abundant riches revealed through Christ Jesus. Amen.