I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
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 answered, “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 years 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.
Never has this verse seemed more needed than right now. Life is changing rapidly. We have to be very cognizant about today and its moments. None of us is looking too far ahead because we are uncertain what will happen today or tomorrow. Two things I know—first, God does not want us to fail. He doesn’t want our marriages to fail, for our children to fail, for our society to fail or for any of us to fail in the journey to salvation. Second, God is going to walk with us if we allow Him.
If anything good comes out of this, it should be a closer relationship with Him. I’m realizing every day that “I can’t do all things by myself.” I can do a lot of things but not all things. And while strength of character can get one far, the strength of Christ takes us much farther.
There is no way that I can do all things, even with Christ. I personally can’t turn around the stock market. I personally am not going to cure the coronavirus. But with Christ, I can do a lot of important things related to this crisis. I can rely on Him for patience to adhere to new directives from the government. I can lean on Him for help in being patient with those around me. I can go to Him in prayer to lessen anxiety. I can ask Him for wisdom in how to negotiate the new challenges that face us. Most important, I can continue to work on my own salvation with Him. While this crisis might put me (and others) farther from a comfortable retirement or financial security, it can certainly bring us closer to eternal retirement (salvation) and spiritual security, the knowledge that no matter what happens and what we may lose, we will never lose the love and help of Christ, Who can strengthen us in all times and in all circumstances.
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.
Prayer of Protection from the Coronavirus
(Prayer by Grace Bishop Alexis (Trader) of Bethesda)
O God Almighty, Lord of heaven and earth, and of all creation visible and invisible, in Your ineffable goodness, look down upon Your people gathered in Your name. Be our helper and defender in this day of affliction. You know our weakness. You hear our cry in repentance and contrition of heart. O Lord who loves mankind deliver us from the impending threat of the corona virus. Send Your Angel to watch over us and protect us. Grant health and recovery to those suffering from this virus. Guide the hands of physicians, and preserve those who are healthy that we may continue to serve You in peace and glorify Your most honorable and majestic Name, of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Go with Christ today! Lean on the strength that comes from going with Christ today!
The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! There you may find a database for past prayer team messages as well as books by Fr. Stavros and other information about his work and St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL.
These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
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. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website!
Fr. Stavros has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
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