Can God Help Me Lift 1,000 Pounds?
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
As I mentioned yesterday, at our gym we’re currently in the middle of our yearly worldwide competition. I get a lot out of competing, and of course I want to do well. I’ll never be the best – even in my old age group – but that’s always the goal. I know it’s not realistic, but honestly, I’d really like to be at the top. So, when I read today’s verse, I secretly think it means that maybe God will give me some supernatural ability to do far above and beyond what I could naturally do. With God’s strength, I could lift 1,000 pounds, right? Then I could win for God. I look at the verse and I hope it means that God might make me a superhero, capable of doing anything I want. Therein lies the problem. I want the passage to mean that I’ll have supernatural abilities to pursue my will.
That of course, isn’t what Paul said at all. What Paul actually said was that he’d learned to be content in all circumstances, no matter how difficult. His secret that was that he continually lived in God’s presence, following his will above all. In doing so, God gave Paul miraculous strength to do whatever he (God) wanted, not what Paul wanted.
Seen in this light, the passage means not that God will help me get whatever I want, but rather, God will give me the strength to do his will when I’m following him. Still, I’m always tempted to twist it. In my addiction, I knew God wanted me sober, so I looked to this verse, asking God to help me overcome my addiction. God, take this away! My idea of sobriety though, was that God just miraculously remove my addictive appetite without making me change anything.
God asked me to change everything though. When I refused, I didn’t receive supernatural help because I was still trying to do things my way. It wasn’t until I relented and began trying to be obedient to his will – confessing, going to treatment, changing my life – that he filled me with his divine strength to find recovery.
Often, we want God’s miraculous help, but we want it to work in our favor. If you cause me to win the lottery, I promise I’ll give 10% to you. God does supernaturally help us, but he does so to further his will for us, not ours. His power is like a wind, that will strengthen us and move us, but only when we’re traveling in the direction that he wants us to go.