“I can do all things in him who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13)
There are moments when we feel happy, full of strength, and everything seems light and easy. Other times we encounter difficulties that make our days bitter. These can be the result of tiny failures in loving the people around us or our inability to share our ideal of life with others. Or we can be hit by illness, money troubles, family problems, inner doubts and trials, loss of work or the effects of war.
These can crush us and never seem to let up. What is especially painful in these circumstances is feeling that we are forced to face life’s trials alone, without support from someone who can give us the crucial help we need.
Few people have experienced such intense joys and pain, successes and lack of understanding as Paul did. And yet facing these risks, he still managed to carry on with his mission without giving in to discouragement.
Was he a superhero? No, he felt himself weak, fragile, inadequate. But he had a secret, one he shared with his friends in Philippi: “I can do all things in him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13).
He had discovered the constant presence of Jesus in his own life. Even when everyone had forsaken him, Paul did not feel alone. Jesus stayed close by. He was the one who gave Paul security and urged him to go on, to face every hardship.
Paul’s secret could be ours too. I can do all things when I too recognize and welcome in my pain the mysterious closeness of Jesus, who identifies himself with my suffering, taking it upon himself.
I can do all things when I live in a communion of love with others, because Jesus comes into our midst, just as he promised (see Mt 18:20), and I am supported by the strength of unity.
I can do all things when I welcome and put into practice the words of the Gospel; they help me see the road I am called to follow day by day, teaching me how to live and giving me confidence.
I will have the strength to face not only my personal trials, or those of my family, but also those of the world around me.
So appalling are the problems of society and nations that this could seem naïve, utopian. And yet it is true that “all things” are possible for us with the presence of the Almighty — “all things,” but only the things that are the good that God, in his merciful love, has decided for me and for others through me. And if these things do not come about immediately, we can carry on believing and hoping in his plan of love, for it spans eternity and will be fulfilled.
All we have to do is work in partnership, as Chiara Lubich taught when imagining the thoughts of someone facing difficulties:
“I can do nothing in that particular case, for that person dear to me who is sick or in danger, for that complicated situation. So I will do what God wants of me in this moment. I will study hard or sweep the house well, and pray well, take good care of my children … And God will tend to unravelling that tangled knot, comforting the sufferer, resolving that unforeseen problem.
“This is a partnership of perfect communion. It demands from us great faith in the love of God for his children and this enables God then, by our response, to have faith in us.
“This mutual trust works miracles. We will see that, before we even reach some crisis, Another has arrived there before us and done immensely better than we would.” (Essential Writings, New York: New City Press, 2007, p. 71.)
Fr. Fabio Ciardi, OMI
Each month the Focolare offers a Scripture passage as a guide and inspiration for daily living. Ever since the Focolare’s earliest years, founder Chiara Lubich (1920–2008) wrote her own commentaries each month. Now Fr. Fabio Ciardi, OMI, theologian and close collaborator of Lubich, is writing the commentaries, reflecting her thoughts and her spirituality of unity.
Read more on this topic:
- Lubich, Chiara. “A note of solemnity,” Essential Writings, New City Press: Hyde Park, New York, 2007, p. 74.
Lubich, Chiara. “Let ourselves be carried,” Here and Now, New City Press: Hyde Park, New York, 2005, p. 24.
“He will come and save you.” (Isa 35:4)