I think this is one of the verses which is quoted a million times every single day among Christians. We have this verse hanging right on our refrigerator, so every time I go to take water I can read it and be 'encouraged'. I remember, I used to get so excited when I hear this verse from pulpits and thinking to myself such as - So I can do everything through Christ (Evangelizing the whole world, building a church of 10,000 people, become a preacher like Billy Graham pulling big crowds, go to the co-worker and tell him about Jesus and lead him to Christ right there even praying the 'sinner's prayer' right then, or preaching about Christ in the highways and the byways). Usually pastors use this verse to motivate people for evangelism or to achieve something in the secular world such as getting a promotion, getting a dream job etc.
I wouldn't question their sincerity or the intentions. But, In my particular case, the results were often quite opposite. Later I used to feel disappointed about it. Because I wasn't able to do any of such things, and I didn't have a clue what this 'through Christ' phrase meant. I doomed into thinking that I lack the necessary skills, education or courage. To be honest, I had a numb feeling toward that verse. I knew I was missing something.
Recently, I was reading that chapter from Philippians (Chapter 4) and was quite blown away by seeing the context of that verse. What is funny is that, the context is right there in the previous verse:
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.
then he goes one and say, I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
So, what is that everything?
He can live well fed through Christ, he can live hungry through Christ, he can live in plenty through Christ and he can live in want through Christ.
Apostle Paul is sharing a great secret of his life of contentment.
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. And that is the anything he can do through Christ. Anything such as being poor, well fed, living in plenty or living in want. In other words, the Jesus who lives in him gives him enough strength to be contented in any situation no matter what. Isn't that awesome?
This is just the opposite of what I thought all these years about that verse!
Now I am ready to learn to be contented in every situation in my life. I don't feel the burden of initiating something on behalf of God. I can trust Him to initiate anything He want to achieve through me in due time and all I need to do is to respond to it. He said his yoke is easy and His burden is light. He wouldn't put burden on His children to perform. He has called us to a Sabbath rest and it means being contented in anything and everything through Christ Jesus whether it is hunger, sickness, unemployment, poverty, homelessness, or anything! He is the source of our contentment! What a Savior we have!!!