Is a can-do attitude something worth aiming for? Or might it point us in the wrong direction?
In February 1943, a poster created by J. Howard Miller appeared on the walls of Westinghouse Electric, meant to encourage women who’d been hired during the war effort. Used only in-house, and gone after a month, the poster wasn’t rediscovered until the early 1980s, when the women’s movement claimed “Rosie the Riveter” as their own.
Since then we’ve seen her everywhere — postage stamps, coffee mugs, tee shirts, you name it. In fact, this seventy-year-old poster is still one of the ten most-requested images from the National Archives. A real favorite. Which brings us to this week’s verse.
I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
So, should Christians write “Philippians 4:13” across the bottom of this can-do poster? Let’s take a look.
I can do… Philippians 4:13
In Greek, ischuó means, “I am strong.” Your Bible may say “I am ready” (AMP), “I am able” (HCSB), or “I can endure” (CEB).
Can-do people are confident and resourceful, with a positive attitude marked by enthusiasm and efficiency.
So, is that a bad thing? Not at all. It just isn’t necessarily a God thing.
Rather than assure the new believers at Philippi that they could make it on their own, the apostle Paul is telling them — and us — just the opposite. The only way we can do anything is through Christ.
…all this… Philippians 4:13
Right. That means “anything” (AMP), “everything” (GW), and “all these things” (CEB). Basically, “whatever” (ERV) life throws at us, Paul promises we can handle.
After all, he did. In the verses leading up to this one, Paul admits, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11).
We may love Philippians 4:13, but only two people in nearly a thousand voted for verse 11 as their favorite. Hmmm. Maybe it’s because most of us aren’t there yet (definitely my story). If you know a woman who is truly content in every circumstance, ask her what her secret is. No doubt she’ll say it’s her relationship with God.
Alas, many of us who know and love him still aren’t all the way to maximum contentment. And no one flagged verse 12 as their go-to: “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” (Philippians 4:12).
Oh my. I had some very lean years in my early twenties, working three jobs and donating plasma for much-needed cash. But I still had a roof over my head, a ten-year-old VW parked at the curb and, on some Mondays, a bag of fresh vegetables from a friend’s garden. By the world’s standards, I was a long way from living in want.
Only a person like Paul who has “been there” can say “done that.” When Paul declares, “I can do all this,” it’s clear where his strength comes from. For the rest of us, we get so excited about claiming, “I can do all things!” that we risk forgetting whose sacrifice makes that possible.
…through him… Philippians 4:13
This powerful truth is buried in the middle of the verse, like a well-oiled hinge that lets us walk through the open gateway. Some translations get more specific—“by the power of Christ” (NIRV) and “through the Anointed One” — but the original Greek just says, “in the one.”
Why doesn’t Paul spell it out for us? Or mention the Lord first in the verse — “Through Christ, I can do all this” — so we’d be sure to get it right? Because Paul always talks about, writes about, and preaches about Jesus. Paul’s letters have no other theme but “the One” (MSG).
…who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
His strength is enough, beloved. More than sufficient. Beyond plenty.
The Lord doesn’t simply encourage us. He also “empowers” (AMP) and “infuses” (AMP) us. Paul rightly affirms Christ “is my power and strength” (VOICE), the one “who makes me who I am” (MSG).
Rachelle chose this verse because it “kept me going during the final hours of labour with our daughter.” Lana picked it too, commenting, “This verse is my assurance that I am valued and valuable.” And Robyn wrote, “On those days when I feel as if I can’t do anything, this verse assures me that God can and will guide my steps and give me what I need.”
It’s a war slogan, all right. A shout-out to the enemy. A cry for victory in the midst of battle.
I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
Now it’s your turn:
What do you need strength for right now? And how might the truth of this verse help you? To share your thoughts, add your response under Post a Comment at the bottom. Your words really do make a difference.
Watch for our last two favorite verses to arrive close on the heels of this one. I’ve loved writing this series for you. Bless you for choosing such rich verses to unpack.
Your sister, Liz
Two years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I went through all the ugly ordeal so many women have to endure with this “almost epidemic” disease, but I was truly living out this Scripture daily! God continually “showed up and showed off” in my life to the point where I KNEW it was Him giving me strength and courage to persevere with joy. I was so amazed by Christ’s grace and mercy to me that I published a short, light-hearted, but uplifting book to honor God called “Busted! An Uplifting Breastimony of God’s Grace”. God is my shield and my very great reward!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Love it, Karen! Isn’t it thrilling when we KNOW it is God’s strength and not ours?
As God takes me through yet another new season in life (of which I am totally grateful – who wants the same old life forever!), I am relying in His strength to take me through each step. I love that the burden of strength is not on me – it is all His. Good thing because I am a weak mess of a woman without Him.
“Who wants the same old life forever!” is a BRILLIANT statement, Pat!
Just what I needed today! I am at a low right now – struggling with man made things – debt, doubt, drowning (economically), depression – 4 awful D’s that the Devil seems to be throwing at me these days. BUT with GOD, I know that he will see me through, teach me to swim, keep me clothed, keep a joy in my heart and lead me through all the rocky places. I just have to keep my eyes and heart on him and turn away from the Devil. I desire and pray for HIS strength daily. Thanks again, Jody
Jody, I sense the weight of every one of those “Ds,” and am pausing right now to pray for your Deliverer to move in a big way, showing you his power.
For years I have battled depression and debilitating fatigue. Since the beginning of this year I have been working really hard to escape the bondage of these two things, and have culled down my schedule so that I can work on my spiritual walk with God, my health and my family. But I still have days in which I am so drained and fatigued that accomplishing anything at all seems impossible. I have learned to depend on Phil 4:13 daily and have had to work really hard on being content in doing what I can do and realize that tomorrow is a new day and I can try again. The improvements in my life have not been extremely drastic, but they have been enough to make a change in my home. God is my strength and I rely on Him daily and sometimes hourly to get me through those times when I feel I have nothing left in me to give.
Alicia, thank you for sharing the practical steps you’ve been taking toward spiritual wellness. So wise, and an example for us all, whatever we might be dealing with.
BIG changes happening in my life, changes that keep me quoting that very verse,”I can do ALL things thru CHRIST who strengthens me. I will need physical and emotional strength these next several weeks. I have learned to put my trust in Jesus and there is no way I am going to lean on my own understanding.
I have loved these lessons, thank you for giving of yourself to bless others.
“There is no way I am going to lean on my own understanding…” SO smart, Marge. Thanks for the reminder!
Thanks for the reminder that we should always remember the CONTEXT of our favorite verses!
Hope I didn’t overdo that here, Shauna. Believers have done incredible things for and with God, standing on the truth of Philippians 4:13. I just wanted to be sure we (myself included!) understand that “all things” for Paul means contentment rather than accomplishment. More of a “being” thing than a “doing” thing. Thanks for the kind affirmation.
I am entering the second year of life as a single divorced mom. I now know that divorce bears quite a stigma in the Christian community. Porn addiction and 6 affairs within a 2 1/2 year time frame almost drove me to a nervous breakdown. To this day all I’ve ever received is “I’m sorry you got hurt.” No repentance, no counseling, no nothing in an effort to restore almost 25 years of marriage. Still to this day I get, “Well you’re the one that left.” Really?
So I am praying for strenth to provide for my sons during their college years with absolutely no financial help. The battle against bitterness and anger is a daily struggle. God has been SO FAITHFUL to meet every need in our lives and I know He will not leave me or my boys. But right now…if I hear one more person say “God hates divorce” all I can say is that I’m not a fan of it either.
Thanks for being faithful to lead us to God’s Word Liz!!
Kim, I am SO sorry your faith community isn’t being more supportive. God hates MANY things–envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice. gossip, and slander among them. He is especially grieved by those who have “no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy” (Romans 1:31).
I know your time must be very limited, but might a support group for single moms be available at a larger church in your community? In that safe setting you may find kindred souls who are also working through the same issues you are.
Praying God’s Word fills the empty, tender places of your heart today.
These verses are just what I needed to hear. These last couple of weeks/months have been tough on my heart. My husband is struggling with his job, my health is had a few bumps and my youngest daughter has dropped out of college because of depression and her struggles with suicide. I can make it through this with His strength.
So grateful you know where to turn for that strength, dear Chris.
I’m so sorry that I’m only just discovering this series now, although I’m pretty sure I’ll head back through a few other posts. I think I may join in on the next one too. Like so many others, I’ve face my struggles with health and family. These days, I think what I find harder is feeling inadequate to help others struggling now. It’s not that I don’t know what to do–it’s that there is so much of it.
Glad you found us, Crystal. My previous blogs await you whenever time permits. I certainly understand that feeling of being overwhelmed as we look at all the hurts and challenges others around us are facing. I try to focus just on those whom God brings across my path at the moment he does so, then entrust them to his care. We ARE inadequate, yet God is fully able. Whew.
I believe this promise from God. I want those who have shared the pain they are going through today to know that I am praying for each of you. A group of Bible Study friends, many 20 years older than I, have shared their life experiences and how God met each need giving me encouragement. May God meet your needs today. Do not be afraid to share your needs with others. God may have the answer right there in a person near you.
Beautifully said, Cheryl. Thanks for praying for our sisters.
Thank you Liz for sharing this verse today and the verses leading up to it. Yes, I admit , I am not there yet for sure but He is and He is the One who waits for me to seek Him. 1 Chronicles 16:11 and Psalm 63 remind me too, to seek Him and His Strength. Thank you for the reminder. I love getting your post in my email.
An excellent choice, Irene: “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always” (1 Chronicles 16:11).
In 2011 my husband, who was a pastor at the time, had an affair. Through a series of events I found out about the affair while it was at its begining and walked through it with my husband. On one occasion I was curled up in my closet crying and praying. I prayed that God would release me from the vow I had made before him and let me leave my husband. God said no. He needed me to show my husband what Christ love looked like. I cried out I can’t, Its too much to ask because right now i feel like I am dying. God’s answer was this verse.Your right you can not but I will give you the strength to do all the things I am asking you to do. I stayed. I loved my husband through the strength and love God poured into my life each minute.
My husband lost his job and we were without an income for a year. Yet we were able to feed our 3 girls and keep our home. But each day through the strength God gave us we were abel to work through the pain, hurt and underlying issues that caused the affair to occur. Through Christ strength we have been able to reconcile. We are still working on our issues but God has brought us back to each other and back to him.
Bless you for sharing your journey, Karen. What a breathtaking testimony to God’s faithfulness and your obedience!
I’m going through a frustrating time right now. I have to change piano teachers after being with my old one for 10 years. I’ve had to call a bunch of teachers and I’ve met with a couple already, but neither seemed to fit my picture for the ideal teacher. It’s a draining process and kind of tiring. I keep feeling like I want to give up the search, but this verse helps me remember that God can and will help me. Thank you so much for posting this 🙂
Delighted to encourage you, Birgitta.
This a verse I am claiming for a weekend Christian Women’s retreat I am helping with at the end of October. Our heme is: F.R.O.G.S. (Fully Rely On God’s Son) Our verse is Phil. 4:13. Please keep us in your prayers.
This is a passage I can turn to anytime I need the reassurance of Christ’s presence and strength in whatever I am facing, whether it is preparing to lead a Bible study or just the everyday stresses of getting older and not being able to do all the things I want to do. I actually find great comfort and assurance in all of Philippians 4 that no matter what God is there ALWAYS!!!!
I was just struggling to write an outline for my English class, and praying that The Lord would change my attitude because my heart wasn’t in it. I didn’t feel like writing, but I hopped on the Internet, and straight to this. Thank you. God truly blesses what HE lays on our hearts to do.
Lizzie, you are so good to us. Wow, free books for Christmas gift giving….almost too good to be true! It was great to meet you at Women of Joy in Branson…what a treat! Philippians 4:13, strength I really need right now. I just went in for surgery and found out that the rotator cuff issue I’ve been suffering with is irreparable. Limited range of motion and pain forever. Then today I found out a hole I have in one of my retinas can’t be repaired either. But it could be so much worse. I have a Father that loves me and will support me through all the trials of my life…and I’ve experienced many. Without Him I would be lost:( With Him I have strength for the journey and promise of everlasting life in His Kingdom. How cool is that, Liz? WooHoo:)
What a great example of learning to be content, dear Michele. God be with you as you adapt to, accept, and acknowledge his will for your life.
This is one of my favorite versus. I can’t do anything without Him. Every second of every minute, every minute of every hour, every hour of every day, every day of every month and every month of every year I need God! There are so many things in this life that I don’t understand but I put my trust in the one who does. The one who is in control,God almighty, maker of heaven and earth! Praise Him!
Thank you Liz for sharing with us what God has given you.
Trust and contentment definitely go hand in hand. Well done, Kelly!
WOW it is so amazing how many I can relate with. I come from an abusive childhood, which leaves scars. Without God I would not make it. Philippians is my favorite book of the bible especially Chapter 4. I never want to be without God one thing that helps me is praying the Lord’s Prayer I know I say this alot -God wants to have a relationship with you everyday. I set up routines, prayer, read bible, meditate and it makes everything so awesome. Even if you have only 10mins. make it the first thing – God likes to be first. People do like to act like they are superior and have all the answers, most people are just like us. God bless you all !! and Thank you Liz for the 2 for 1 book – Praise God I am Christmas shopping. 🙂 Yep I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
Such good counsel, Susan, to give God the first ten minutes of our day. Sure makes the rest of the day go more smoothly!
Yes! We can!!! 🙂
I am so thankful that the Lord uses you to speak clearly what I needed to hear today. There is a huge fracture in my family because of a son’s choices. There is a battle raging and I will need to seek the Lord’s stength more than ever. I don’t want to lash out in my anger and hurt and say things I can never take back. I am claiming this verse as my war slogan. I want it to be a shout out to the enemy that there will be victory in the midst of this battle. Praying also for each precious sister in Christ that commented. So many battles we all face but Praise God he brings the strength we need for victory!!
You are SO WISE, Linda, to consider in advance the damage our words can do. Stick to your war cry and give God the glory in advance for the victory!
Another great job sharing the truth and richness of this verse, Liz. We often spew out the platitude “God will never give us more than we can handle.” Honestly, that is a bunch of nonsense. My 5 miscarriages were more than I could handle. Raising a precious daughter with special needs is more than I can handle. Dealing with financial pressures, marital disagreements and the myriad of downers in life are often more than I can handle.
That’s the beauty of this verse: We CAN’T handle life, but through the Lord, in His strength, we can handle it all. There is bountiful peace that accompanies that truth.
Oh, Julie, that platitude IS a bunch of nonsense! You may remember I wrote about that very thing a few posts ago: http://lizcurtishiggs.com/2013/07/the-20-verses-you-love-most-5-god-works/.
I am so blessed by your faithfulness, despite all you have been through and are going through still. May God pour out his peace upon you, dear friend.
This verse became a bedrock verse in my life as I began my Christian walk. It has enabled me to focus on Christs power and presence. I’ve learned that I’m not to do all things, but do all Christ brings me to in His strength. Maturity is a continual growing process. Sometimes we want to hang on to comfortable places and people, fearful of change. But He is faithful to keep us growing!
It is so funny how and when I truly took this verse to heart. When my children were little (like ages 3, 2, and 1!) we were looking for things to help me keep my sanity and still entertain them. I found a Christian children’s called the Donut Man, and he sang a song with this verse in it. Ever since then, that song stays in my mind no matter what is happening around me. I even have this verse at the bottom of my e-mail messages to share the hope that I have! Now if I can only remember to take the words to heart at the moments when I need them the most! Thanks for the reminders every week! I look forward to reading your future studies!
I know the Donut man song! My children loved that record. Hehehe. It was a long time ago. They are in their 35-40’s. bless you for sharing!
Physical pain is my torment, at times intense and grueling.
Jesus and I had an out loud talk most of the day yesterday, sharing with Him that I just can’t do this. I know in my head and my heart that I can do all things through Jesus but sometimes I need to hear it, even if it is me reminding me through prayer at His prompting. I know it rains on everyone in this world and it is my turn to get wet. It can be discouraging when it turns into a hurricane stalled over me. Yes, I can do all things through Jesus and I will be content in this situation. That is my persistent praise.
Goodness! I gave up a few weeks ago, on seeing this verse as a contender, and here it is at #3! Yay! It is so helpful, sometimes it is said with clenched teeth, but I proclaim it! Am so looking forward to seeing #2 and #1 in this study and must order the Bad Girl book for the next Study. A special “thank you” for the buy one/get one Christmas Book! Liz ,you are the Best! xo
I’m finishing my last semester of grad school, and finding that I REALLY have to rely on Christ’s strength and discipline to stay focused on the task God has given me in THIS moment as opposed to trying to rush forward into the future. Denying myself daily and leaning on Him is the only way I’ve been able to remain at peace when anxiety about finances, future, and family swirl around me. Thank you for being a willing and open vessel for the Holy Spirit to flow. 🙂
It was good for me to read this verse today. Although I’ve seen God working mightily in our family, I’ve been so discontent lately. One situation starts going well–praises!–and another comes up that’s just beyond me. But not beyond God. I’m learning to trust Him in all things, and rely on His strength and His timing, which are perfect.