There’s few bible verses more widely used than John 3:16 and Philippians 4:13. Sometimes Philippians 4:13 is thrown around as an antidote to difficult situations and many times can rub us the wrong way. It’s like yes! I know the answer but that doesn’t mean it’s still not hard! There’s a paraphrase of the Bible similar to The Message called, The Passion. A paraphrase isn’t a word for word translation of the original text but instead a thought by thought. So I pulled out my Passion paraphrase hoping for a fresh view of this scripture.
Philippians 4:13 “And I find that the strength of Christ’s explosive power infuses me to conquer every difficulty.”
Yesss!! That I liked! I need some explosive power in my life! Something to blow up those tough people, tough situations, tough diagnosis! T N T please!
As I started to dig in, the Greek word “Pas” is translated “all things” in my NIV Bible. I opened my dictionary and it literally means, all things! Ok so what is all things. Well good things right? I mean the Bible speaks of his blessing I can do blessing and favor! Right?! Lord, heap it on! But all things must encompass ok things too; and although ok things are well ok, I can do those things too. Ok is manageable. But all things must encompass more than just those things. It must encompass hard things too right?!
I don’t know about you but when I signed up for this Jesus thing no one explained to me just how hard it is. Can I get an Amen! Let get real in here, this faith journey is hard.
One time he gave me a picture of our faith journey.
For those of you who have ran a Spartan race you will know the struggle here. I personally have never ran simply because this doesn’t sound fun to me! It’s essentially a race where there’s obstacles all over. Walls to climb over, barbed wire to crawl under, and at the end you jump over fire! And let’s not forget you pay to do this! You sign up willingly! See the irony here. That’s how I feel about right now! Ok Lord I said yes and I thought Angels would carry me through life and destroy all evil that comes at me. Not realistic and very naive on my part. Because the hard things don’t disappear when we accept Christ. The difference is through the explosive power given to us through His spirit we can get through the hard things of life.
To me Philippians 4:13 is a comforting reminder that as life brings all things I’m not alone in those things.
Anyone feel alone when things are hard? Trapped in situations beyond your control? Health, Relationships, the past, trapped by the uncertainty of the future. I am learning to rest in the truth that He will fill me with what I need, not what I want, to get through the obstacles of life.
Take a second and say out loud, I can do Hard things.
I am a nerd of the Bible! I love the Word! The Word of God is full of Women who did hard things. It’s encourages me and challenges me to press in and push on. I felt the Lord highlighted four women who did hard things to share with you. There are many more, but over four different devotionals I will share about the four women He impressed on my heart to share and the keys they held to doing those hard things.
Hagar: Our sister of Great obedience found in Genesis 16
Hagar, was an unknown egyptian woman who likely had been a gift given to Abram from the king of Egypt. A maid servant. She was also Abram’s second wife, clearly against God’s original creation of marriage which was one man and one woman, however it was common in the culture. Even crazier than two wives was the idea that Sarai, his first wife, was the one who initiated this union. However Sarai was desperate, it was shameful in culture for her to not be able to bear a child, to not give her husband a namesake. You see, shame has the power to make us do irrational things impulsively to hide our “stuff.” She was desperate because the Lord had given them a word. A word that they would have a child. However she couldn’t see with her eyes how that was going to happen! What about you, have you ever had a word from God about a situation, but it doesn’t make sense to natural eyes so you think God must have fallen asleep at the wheel and maybe, just maybe, He needed your help for the promise to come to pass? I mean, she figured it couldn’t hurt to help him along. Because sometimes our hearts get set on a desire, in our hurt, pain, desperation, we are tempted to “find ways” to get it. God’s timing is not usually early, or on time, in our sense of time, but it’s never late. Abram allowed the wisdom that comes from the flesh to decide. I mean come on, his wife was essentially saying, here sleep with this other woman. So he was like well, I guess if you are gonna twist my arm?! However what looked like a help to God, a quick fix ended up being the detour that took them down the “hard road.” Poor Hagar found herself pregnant and hated by sarai for her obedience.
Genesis 16:5 Sarai told Abram, “It’s all your fault that I’m suffering this abuse. I put my maid in bed with you and the minute she knows she’s pregnant, she treats me like I’m nothing. May God decide which of us is right.”
I’m not so sure that Hagar was treating her wrongly. Maybe Sarai was experiencing conviction for her decision to press ahead of God. Instead of searching her heart she got angry with Abram and Hagar, and Sarai upped her workload. Can you imagine how hard this must have been for Hagar? So she ran! Have you ever ran? I have! After getting as far as she could go, she stopped to rest and get water. An angel appeared to her
Genesis 16:7-13 NLT
“The angel of the LORD found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur. The angel said to her, “Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?” “I’m running away from my mistress, Sarai,” she replied. The angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.” Then he added, “I will give you more descendants than you can count.” And the angel also said, “You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’), for the LORD has heard your cry of distress. This son of yours will be a wild man, as untamed as a wild donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him. Yes, he will live in open hostility against all his relatives.” Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the LORD, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?””
She returned and gave birth to a son whom she named Ishmael as the Angel led her to do.
Hagar’s situation was hard and in many ways unfair. Yet it was in the midst of her deepest pain, her despair, in the midst of being lost, God saw her. He saw the abuse, he saw the hurt, he saw the confusion, he saw the despair and he told her he would bless the son she was carrying with many descendants. From the day forward she called out to him as “El Roi”, the God who sees.
Hagar could do the hard thing of going back because she knew she wasn’t alone. And neither are you. Have you ever had to do hard things and felt alone? Wrestled the feelings that God must not see what happening to me, or he’d fix it? I’d like to encourage you today that Hagar was strengthened through knowing she was seen via a conversation.
When was the last time you had a conversation with God? Prayed? That’s all prayer is, conversation. It strengthens you for the journey, it empowers you to do the hard things, but most importantly it’s about fellowship with him. He wants to let you know he sees you during all things. The hard ones and the blessings….
He sees the broken heart
He sees the abuse
He sees the injustice
He sees the pain
Are you giving him the opportunity to tell you that? If we want to do hard things in obedience we’d better know how to ask and hear what those things are. Prayer is our Manny 911 to the father.
Prayer Starter: Lord God, I praise you today for hard things. I praise you that you don’t leave me alone in my hard situations. I lift my heart up today and ask you speak to me, show me the places I need to be obedient. Then Holy Spirit fill me with the courage to do it! In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen!