In Philippians 4:13, Paul says, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” The passage is often quoted as an indication that he can accomplish some impossible or nearly impossible task. But I fear when cited that way the passage is extracted from its context.
Paul is not talking about what he can do; he is talking about what he can endure. Verse 11 said this: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” And in verse 12 he says, “I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to be in plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
There is a critical difference between interpreting this passage as a formula that enables one to accomplish the impossible and interpreting it as encouragement to endure the unbearable.
I am also intrigued by the phrase in verse 14, “share in my troubles.” Paul says it was good for the Church to share in his troubles.
I wonder how, as a friend and a pastor, I can share in the troubles of those whom I love.
It seems that Paul makes the matter practical when in the subsequent verses he talks about sending aid when he was in need. I love the way Paul transcends theology with practice. For Paul all theology is practical theology.