When I thought of the title for this post I first thought I can’t think of what to say. Then I wondered why I can’t think of something to say. Maybe it’s because I am not thinking about it hard enough. Or, maybe it’s because I’m afraid that what I say may not be interesting. Or, maybe it’s because there is nothing to say.
Then it dawned on me. I’ve already said something. So I HAVE thought of something to say. So, I guess I CAN!
My illustration illustrates that you can turn your can’ts into cans even though you do not think you can. Sound confusing? The Apostle Paul put it this way:
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me (Philippians 4:13, King James Version, KJV). Did you notice those first two words? He emphatically stated, “I CAN….”
Now, what were the circumstances that could have led him to say, “I can’t”? In the three previous verses (vss. 10-12), the apostle spoke of contentment: “…for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am,” (v. 11, New American Standard Bible, NASB). Another word for “content” is “self-sufficient.” This is used in a positive way. It’s used in the sense of being satisfied in God’s content or fullness due to power in Christ.
From a human standpoint, we tend to feel self-sufficient but in a selfish way, don’t we? It’s natural to feel like we don’t have to depend upon anything or anyone. Like O’l Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra, used to sing, “I did it MY way!” We tend to dance to the same tune.
It’s when something happens beyond your control that it hits you: “Looks like I am not going to get my own way.” So, you get frustrated, and oftentimes, angry. Suddenly you find yourself on the flip side of contentment and that is DIScontentment.
Then, as you end up at the point where you realize, “I can’t do it MY way,” you lose confidence in yourself. You might even start doubting God. You suffer from anxiety which a lot of times turns into depression. And depression can turn into disaster.
The Apostle Paul said he learned how to prevent DIScontentment. He was able to be self-sufficient in a godly way by adapting to his circumstances. He didn’t allow his disappointments to control him; he controlled them with the help of a Higher Power. He could be happy regardless the situation. Even in the best of times, he didn’t allow his success to go to his head.
The Message paraphrases him to remark,
Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty, (vss. 11-12, MSG).
But notice how was able to adapt to his circumstances: “I can do all things THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS ME.” I emphasize the fact that the power of Christ made him self-sufficient. Only through Christ can you say, “I can.” But without Christ, you can’t say it. Without Christ you are too weak. Without Christ you can’t learn to be content.
But through Christ, you CAN do instead of can’t do for his grace or favor is sufficient enough to make you self-sufficient. For example, Paul gave a beautiful testimony to the Corinthian church about his “thorn in the flesh.” Apparently he was experiencing some kind of personal affliction. He testified,
Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong, (2 Corinthians 12:8-10, NASB).
Just remember that whenever you experience your own “thorn in the flesh,” whatever that might be, you can boldly say, “I CAN deal with it for God’s grace is sufficient for me!” Just remember the two teardrops:
Two little teardrops were floating down the river of life. One teardrop asked the other, “Who are you?”
“I am a teardrop from a girl who loved a man and lost him. But who are you?”
The first teardrop replied, “I am a teardrop from the girl who got him.”
That’s the way life goes. We cry over things we can’t have, but we might cry twice as hard if we had received them. It depends on whether we are going to be positive or negative in the way we view things.
It’s all in a matter of turning our “I can’ts” into our “I can’s,” that we will ever be happy. When we are able to say, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me,” then we will also know the secret of being content.
Here’s a really nice song I’m sure you’ll enjoy by R.C. Hodge titled, “I Can Do All Things (In Christ Who Strengthens Me)”:
Good News to YOU!