Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany” and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.”
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Good morning Prayer Team!
A few years ago, I confided in a friend that I was nervous about something that I had to do the next day. Early the next day, before the event I was nervous about, my friend stopped by the office and handed me a card. And on the card it read: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! (Philippians 4:13) Because I was pressed for time, my friend said just two things to me. “Do you think God wants you to fail today?” To which I answer, “no, I don’t think so.” And a second question, “Don’t you think that God is going to walk with you in the task that you are about to do?” To which I answered, “Yes, He is.”
Since that day, there isn’t a day that I haven’t thought about this verse of scripture, Philippians 4:13. This is probably the most powerful mantra there is in the Christian church. It is a verse that is easy to remember. And in times of stress, it is an easy prayer one can offer up. A few months ago, I needed to have a small medical procedure. I have had a life-long phobia of IV needles. I wasn’t worried about the procedure, or even being put to sleep, just the IV needle. So, yes, I was nervous, nauseous actually. And yes, the nurses were great in helping me talk it through. But at the moment of truth, I closed my eyes and could see in my mind an icon of Christ, the Good Shepherd, which is the icon where Christ is carrying a lamb over His shoulders, and my mind played this verse over and over again, like the beating of a drum, as they inserted the IV and I quickly drifted to sleep. When I woke up, I was still saying this verse.
God does not want us to fail. He promises to walk with us every day, through every trial. God never abandons us. How many times we read in the Bible that with God all things are possible, for only God can make the impossible become possible. Man can figure out things that are challenging and seem impossible. But only God can make what is impossible become possible. Philippians 4:13 is a great verse to have at the ready every day-say it before you begin work, or go to a meeting, or try to get your child to do something he or she doesn’t want to do, or doesn’t think they can do. Say it before you begin something you think that you can’t do. Say is when you are stressed out or angry. And spend some time in front of an icon of Christ. Memorize its features, so that you can close your eyes and bring the icon to the forefront of your mind. And pray this verse as you gaze upon Christ.
There is such great power in merely invoking the name of the Lord and meditating on placing yourself in His care. When all hope seems lost, Philippians 4:13 is a great place to start over again. So, wherever you are in your life today, whatever challenges life is going to through at you today, go with Christ. He is the strength behind our success. He is the source of recovery from all of our failures. With Christ, we can indeed to all things. We can endure all things. We can be the survivor that God wants us to be. And with God’s help we can turn failing into surviving, and surviving into thriving.
Lord, thank You for this day. I know not all of the challenges and opportunities that today holds but I know that You will walk with me through all of them. Help me to have confidence that I am never truly alone, that You are always at my side. Help me to put my trust in You. Thank You for Your help and protection. Help me to honor You today! Amen.
On Monday, there will be a second reflection on this same verse, so tune in then for more practical uses of this special verse.
Have a great day!
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