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Thinking about the nature of suffering today, grief, hardship, unexpected circumstances, and that somewhat optimistic American spirit, that “can do” attitude.

I love Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” ALL things. “ALL” means anything and everything. It’s somewhat comical how our brains can just gloss over that “all” and see only the good and positive.

It is a much maligned and often misunderstood verse.

Like, I can do all things…. So, can you fail to get the lid off the pickle jar? Can you ruin all your  relationships? Can you make a mess of your life and throw yourself on the mercy of the Lord? Can you suffer gracefully? Can you just break and acknowledge you can’t go it alone? Can you just let go and trust in the Lord? Can you ask for help? ALL things.

Life can really throw some stuff at you. All in good humor here but, “I can do all things” really does mean “all,” the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I have a peanut gallery in my life, a band of chattering critics, I kind of always have, and I’m really grateful for them. They have challenged my faith, forced me to really get into scripture. A really powerful form a spiritual warfare,  thank the Lord for the irritations and sad times in your life.  I don’t know what you’re doing here Lord, but I know you are doing. And where the Lord is doing, there is going to be good.

“In Him there is no dark at all.”

So when stuff happens in my life, that peanut gallery often likes to go to work. I really did once say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” and was promptly met with, “Oh yeah? You can’t even get the lid off a pickle jar.” It was a somewhat amusing complaint, because indeed, I can seldom get the lid off the pickle jar. Less amusing are things like, So where’s your God god now? He’s obviously failed you.

Dang, people can be vicious sometimes! There’s nothing quite like being under siege and your so-called support team goes, she looks kind of weak right now, let’s just try to steal her boots.

Thank you for the boot thieves, Lord, and for the peanut gallery. I really mean that, without them, my faith would never have been challenged, it would never have been tested and found to be true, verifiable, sound, checked and cross referenced. God is faithful, He is there for us in the hard times, perhaps even more so in the hard times.

I don’t test God myself, well not on purpose anyway. Ha, well perhaps I test His patience sometimes, but even in that He is infinitely gracious, kind, and steadfast.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” means I can rest in His peace that surpasses all understanding even while kids are going all astray. It means, I can sing songs of joy and praise, while chained to a wall in a jail. It means, all can be well with my soul even in the midst of grief, when I lose a spouse of many years. It means when things look impossible all around you, the Lord will light the path before you and show you the way.

Yesterday somebody told me, “I’ll believe in Jesus when I see a Christian actually walk on water,” and I thought, Dude! I’ve seen thousands of them do exactly that. Open your eyes, they’re all around you.


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