God’s Strength, Not My Own
Written by: Elly Gilbert
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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. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
- Philippians 4:12-13 NIV
It is pretty easy to trust God when everything is going well, and through most of my life, things went pretty well, especially in the early years of my marriage. My husband and I had a nice home, a sweet little family, and stable careers. We were doing well enough that when a teaching position in a local Christian school opened up, we decided to prayerfully consider that move, even though it would result in a large pay cut for me. There were so many benefits: I would be teaching smaller classes in a Christian environment and I would be in the same building as my children, which meant I could see them anytime I wanted. We crunched numbers in our budget and decided that we could make the sacrifices necessary to make the position possible for me.
When we first made that choice, trusting God with our finances did not feel like a big leap. We reduced dining out, stuck to a strict grocery budget, and dropped our cable plan. Somehow, we adjusted to living with less income. During that time, my faith increased. Because Bible study and prayer were an integral part of my job, I found myself spending more and more time in the Word. I even committed to lead a retreat for other women. I felt that I was living out God’s purpose for my life.
Then, in January 2014, we were dealt a pretty big blow. My husband unexpectedly lost his job. I was angry, hurt, and scared. The night after we received this news, I didn’t sleep a wink. I tossed and turned and tried to pray, but all I could do was cry. I couldn’t understand why this was happening to my family, especially at a time when I felt so close to the Lord. I was doing what He called me to do so why would my family have to endure this now?
Finally, at about 4 in the morning, I got out of bed and retreated to the couch with my Bible. I turned to Philippians 4 for some familiar verses that always bring comfort. I read the words of verse 6, my go-to verse in times of anxiety.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." - Philippians 4:6 NIV.
I didn’t stop there, though. I read on. When I came to verse 12, I paused.
"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 NIV.
I began to feel rather ashamed of my anger and doubt, especially when I read on to the next verse.
"I can do all this through him who gives me strength." - Philippians 4:13 NIV.
A calm swept over me. I realized that I had been trying to work this situation out on my own without relying on God to care for me. He had carried us through hard times before and His promises always held true. I didn’t know how this situation would work out, but He did. I resolved right then that I would trust God to lead us through this, too.
The months that followed were challenging, but we never had a need that God didn’t meet. Even though it took nearly a year for my husband to find a job that was comparable to his previous one, we had exactly what we needed when we needed it. When I look back on it, that year was one of the times in my life that I felt the most content and at peace, and it was because I followed Paul’s advice - I relied on God’s strength, not my own.
1. How has God provided for your needs in the past? Share your testimony with someone else!
2. What does it mean to you to do things through the strength of Christ?
God, Your promises for me are always true. When I am scared, all I need to do is turn to You. Help me remember that I can always trust You. Thank You for caring for all of my needs. Amen.
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