The Secret in Every Circumstance

The Secret in Every Circumstance

Don’t be fooled by the popular locker room read on Philippians 4:13.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” — score a touchdown, hit a homerun, climb a mountain, run a marathon, win the game with a finger to the sky for the Lord. Maybe some well-meaning jock signed his name with “Phil. 4:13” in your high-school yearbook, as a little nod to Jesus, who gifted him with such athletic prowess.

Now, the “all things” of Philippians 4:13 certainly does include our successes and the various positive things in life, but the edge on this often-quoted verse is that “all things” also means life’s hardest things: like humiliation, hunger, need, and loss.

Put the “All Things” in Context

Philippians 4:13 means more than giving a hat tip to heaven when life’s going as well as it can. It’s mainly about where to go — to whom do we go — when we’re most devastated, most in pain, most at a loss, in our lowest of lows.

It’s in this context that the apostle Paul claims, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Philippians 4:11) — and says it again, “In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” There is a secret for contentment not just in our greatest triumphs, but also in our deepest devastations.

What is “the secret”? Philippians 4:13 calls it “Christ who strengthens me.” Or, to put it in terms of Philippians 3:8, “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”

In this 3-minute video, John Piper continues his series, in partnership with YouVersion, through the Bible’s ten most-highlighted passages, and explains that only when Christ is our central treasure do we truly have the wherewithal for life’s greatest wins and losses.

More from John Piper on the Bible’s most marked verses:

Thumb david mathis

David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor for, pastor at Cities Church in Minneapolis/Saint Paul, and adjunct professor for Bethlehem College & Seminary. He has edited and contributed to several books and is author of Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines.