I Can Do All Things, Except This
There was a time when all of my children drank from sippy-cups. You know the cups that have lids? I would see them day after day sitting on the counter. They would need to be filled constantly. My children’s hands would grab them, drink, and move along with their days. Each time I saw an empty cup sitting on the counter my heart would resonate with the void. My heart was happy, but my soul was thirsty too. Those early days when I had ages 6, 4, and 2-two-year-olds were exhausting.
Picking up dirty socks wasn’t exactly my idea of serving God. When I imagined being poured out for the sake of the gospel, it didn’t include sticky floors. Their plastic cups are always on the counter ready to be filled. Everyday. They come, asking me to fill them. So I do. I pour the milk, juice, and water. Again. And again. During that time I wondered why God would put a desire in my heart to serve Him, only to keep me caged at home.
Did I imagine my spiritual service to the Lord of Hosts would include a house full of kids, a husband with 12 hour shifts, and a sinus cold? Even with the high temperatures, I would drink my coffee and take some medicine to help, but inside I felt so…..empty. Out of energy. Strength. Patience. Joy. I prayed for the LORD to fill me up, but I missed how to let Him fill me up. I missed how serving Him would actually help the hollow feelings deep inside my heart. The empty feelings were because of one simple thing: lack of contentment.
Discontentment started sucking dry all of my joy, peace, and love. The thing about discontentment is that it comes very slowly. It takes root quietly and before we know it, the weeds of bitterness, jealousy, and anger well up inside us. How do we guard against discontentment? I think Paul tells us in the book of Philippians.
How Do We Guard Against Discontentment?
First, Paul recognized the emptiness. In Philippians 2:16 -17 he says, “holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.”
Paul was “poured out” for the Gospel for the sake of their faith. Paul was in prison while writing this letter. He had given up everything – even his freedom – for their sake. For the believers in Philippi. Paul recognized that we as Christians will feel empty. We will be poured out and sometimes stripped of things. In fact, Paul talks about feeling in need. Philippians 4: 12 says “I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” Paul knew it all – full and empty.
I Can Do All Things…
And the next verse? The next verse is one we all like to quote. “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” – We like to throw that verse on kitchen towels, plaques, Bible covers, and tattoos. But do we realize the context of this verse? Do we really understand the context of this verse? Paul isn’t talking about doing all of those things that seem hard. He didn’t tell the Christians they could succeed at their job, find the perfect soulmate, or achieve some dream. Philippians 2:13 isn’t about doing anything like that at all. This verse says we can have strength to be content.
We don’t like that sometimes. It is easier to say to God: Yes, help give me strength to overcome this hard situation with my spouse or give me my dreams if I work hard. But contentment? No thank you. We don’t like to admit that we have emptiness, jealousy, or bitterness in our heart. Friend. I was there. Still today I find myself fighting those feelings of discontentment. Paul says we can have the strength, not in ourselves, but in Christ, to overcome discontentment.
How do we do this?
1. Rejoice. A simple praise to God changes everything. (Philippians 4:4)
2. Pray. Philippians 4:6-7 says peace is ours if we dedicate time to prayer.
3. Meditate. Philippians 4:8 gives us a great list of things our thoughts can think about.
If you find yourself today with the horrible weed of discontentment growing in your heart try rejoicing, praying, and meditating. Friend, if our life is to be emptied, it can still feel complete when we serve those around us. Only two things will last forever: people and the Word of God. In our ordinary days, we have eternity to think about. Will we use every ounce of reserve to be poured out again and again for the proclamation of the gospel? Even in our own homes – we can see eternity. We can be poured out on purpose for those God has placed in our lives today.
Let’s Read the Bible – Bible Reading Guides
If you have ever asked these questions or said these things, this new guide might be the perfect option for you.
- I am so confused when I read my Bible.
- What do I do when I can’t understand my Bible?
- The Bible is too hard to grasp.
- I’m not a scholar or pastor, so how can I really understand the Bible?
I want to take the mystery out of Bible reading. What is the point of reading your Bible if you don’t understand it? Not many of us (me included) have time in our regular days to research the background or history of each of the books of the Bible. That’s where I come in!
For the next 12 months I’ll be creating a series of Bible Reading Guides to help you not only get the background information on the book of the Bible, but also provide a reading plan, and study guide if you want to go deeper.
Think: Self-Paced Bible study!
These guides are designed to save you time and allow you to do more than just read the Bible – but understand and apply it to your life! This is the next step if you want more out of your Bible reading.
For this very first guide I’ve spent hours researching, reading commentaries, and yes, looking over the entire book of Philippians to be able to help you understand this amazing book of the Bible.
If you want to read more about these guides, click here.