‘I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me’ gets bandied around a lot by well-meaning-but-naive types. Trouble is that it often gets interpreted as ‘I can do all things because I am strong’ rather than ‘my weakness is huge, but grace gives me strength’ (which is what Paul is actually saying in the rest of the chapter – he’s talking about suffering). In the face of ‘I can do all things because I am strong’ I just want to run away and hide, appalled at my weakness, but given the other interpretation… as long as I say ‘yes’, I am strengthened beyond what I ever imagined. God has been showing me this, lately, as I go through EMDR – this strength that He bestows. It is a somewhat fearful thing, but it is nonetheless beautiful.
Philippians is one of my favourite books of the bible. In particular this end section of the letter to the church at Philippi:
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned for me, but had no opportunity to show it. Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. In any case, it was kind of you to share my distress.
Philippians 4:8-14 (NRSVA)
When I am low, not many things make sense. Music can be helpful, especially positive songs and praise music, but laughter is, as the old saying goes, the best of medicines. I find I need to keep away from anything negative at the moment (because my head has enough already), and instead try to put into practice the words of St. Paul:
Delight yourselves in God, yes, find your joy in him at all times. Have a reputation for gentleness, and never forget the nearness of your Lord.
Don’t worry over anything whatever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer, and the peace of God which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.
Here is a last piece of advice. If you believe in goodness and if you value the approval of God, fix your minds on the things which are holy and right and pure and beautiful and good.
Philippians 4:4-8 (Phillips)
Our family love Mr. Bean. He appeals across the ages and across the autism spectrum too, which is good because ASD children often don’t understand humour. Prince enjoys Mr. Bean, as does little Chip, and they both often find comedy… er… elusive. The number of times we’ve had conversations beginning “Mummy, is this a joke?” followed by something which is less a joke and more a random statement! And then they’ll try again with a hundred more random statements. No wonder poor Fluff rolls her eyes. Her big brother and little sister’s ‘jokes’ are funny for all the wrong reasons But I’d not change a hair on any of their bonny heads and I am thankful for my family, and for Mr. Bean!