I know what it is to have little and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need.
— Philippians 4:12 (NRSV)
When I was a track athlete in high school, Paul’s words in Philippians 4:13 were a mantra I would use to give me confidence before a race. I would try to calm my nerves by telling myself that I could do all things because I believed in Christ. I had only read verse thirteen and didn’t read the surrounding verses until I was older.
Until yesterday, I was working two jobs: as a teacher’s assistant and as a hotel valet. So, I was frightened when I found out that I was laid off from one job and put on leave from the other because of the coronavirus pandemic. I saw my busy schedule as a blessing and a way that God had answered my prayers to help us with our precarious finances. So what now?
Jesus tells us that our world is impermanent and to store our treasure in heaven and not on Earth, but sometimes it’s hard for me to see how. Maybe that means when things inevitably change in our world, I need to find God and be fearless in my faith in the good and in God’s love. God is always here around us, and it is where we look that determines what we see. It is a scary time and our financial uncertainty is going to pale in comparison to the loss and suffering that this pandemic is going to cause. Now I see Paul’s text differently. I see that through need and through plenty, God is there. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," no longer suggests that I will succeed because God is on my side. Instead, this passage tells me that through all things, the love of Jesus Christ is what gives me strength to live on God’s side.
Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to be an instrument of your peace. Help me to see the your hands at work in my life when it is hard and when it is easy, when I feel joy and when I feel sorrow. Oh Lord, be my strength when I am weak and through all things teach me to serve you in love. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Rachel Brown (Oklahoma, USA)