Sunday, April 20, 2014
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LOOKING UP • JOE BAISDEN | Dealing with circumstances

One of the most often quoted passages of Scripture in all the Bible is Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (KJV).
We like to quote the passage when we set out on some high adventure of faith or undertake some challenging project. We like to use the verse to liberate us from our self-imposed limitations and doubts as we seek to advance our lives beyond where they have been.


The name of the Bible character who gave us the words has become synonymous with high adventure because of his mission travels in the First Century world for the sake of the Gospel. The Apostle Paul gave Christ credit for all that he did. His strength was the strength of Christ living in him. “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20-21).
Some years ago, I heard David H. C. Read preach from this text and give it an emphasis which has meant a great deal to me in times of personal stress. Read pointed out that, although Paul said that he could do all things, it would not violate scholarship to render the passage: “I can take all things . . . ,” or “I am fit for all things through Christ.”
The context of the passage would support that conclusion. The Apostle leads into his statement explaining that he has “learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (v. 11b). He had been in circumstances of need. He had also been in circumstances where he had plenty. He had learned to take whatever life brought him and make the best of it.
What an art it is to take life’s circumstances and make the most of them. Some, given advantage and abundant resources, waste no time in wasting it all. My dad had a way of profoundly summing up situations with much fewer words than most of us preachers use. I reported to him one time concerning the death of a man whom my family had known all his life. My dad’s comment: “He had it all and lost it.”
On the other hand there are folks who take adversity and turn it into opportunity to bless themselves and others. Such a one was Michael LeFan. In March of this year, I officiated at Mike’s funeral and had the privilege of telling his remarkable story.
In 1954, when he was 8 years old, he contracted bulbar polio. From that time on he had to depend on a huge iron lung to stay alive. He could survive outside the contraption he called his “tin can” for only a few hours with the use of a portable respirator. He could not walk nor dress himself. His arms and legs were immovable except for his toes on his left foot. With those toes he could hold a pencil and paint brush, operate a telegraph key, and type 40 words a minute on his computer. With his circumstances thus defined for the remaining 59 years of his life, he managed to become an artist, author three books, edit a magazine, contribute to others, and operate a ham radio. With the help of his mother transporting him to classes, Mike received an associate’s degree from Temple College and a bachelors from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. With his indomitable spirit, he became an independent business man. With his faith and perseverenace he inspired countless others.
He refused to think like a disabled person, but when he dropped a piece of paper to the floor, he could not pick it up.
If we believe that God’s Word is true when it states that He will not put more on us than we can bear (1 Cor. 10:13), we can also come to believe that we can take and deal with all the things that come our way in life, no matter what, through Christ who gives us strength.
 “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”--John 16:33