I know what some of you are thinking, “Didn’t you just post on this? The verse wasn’t this one but we got the point. Stop beating a dead horse. Move on to something else.” Fair enough, but hear me out. Or, rather hear Mark Strauss out. In his book How to Read the Bible in Changing Times Strauss recounts a time early in his teaching career when the transmission went out in his 1977 Mazda GLC. His financial situation didn’t allow for a new transmission which would have been well over a thousand dollars. When he arrived late to class he explained to his students what had happened. One of his students was a mechanic and told Mark he thought he could help. As it turns out they were able to find a transmission for a Mazda GLC, that same day, in a junk yard for only $60.00. They returned to school with it, put it in and the car “ran like a top.” Strauss says he “certainly claimed the promise of Philippians 4:19.” (30) Now let’s pick up his comments:
“Based on my earlier comments, you might ask how I could claim that promise. After all, it was given by Paul to the church at Philippi two thousand years ago. It was not given to me. The answer is that the biblical author is not so much making a promise as making a statement about the nature of God. We have a good God who cares for his people and has the desire and resources to meet their needs. I was very grateful to God for that student mechanic. But even if God had not provided that transmission, he would still have been a good God who meets our needs. He would have met my needs by teaching me to learn to trust him even more through financial difficulties, or by sending someone to provide my family with food or shelter if we found ourselves in even more dire circumstances, or in some other way.”
“There is a common formula used in some Christian churches. One person says, ‘God is good’ and the others reply, ‘all the time.’ This is something like what Paul is saying here in Philippians 4:19. God is good, because he meets our needs in any and all circumstances. Indeed, Paul says as much in the passage that follows: ‘I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have 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. I can do all things through him who gives me strength’ (Phil. 4:12b-13). Though not stated in the form of a promise, this passage has the same essential message as verse 19. It is a statement about the nature of God we serve. We claim God’s promises, not by demanding something from him, buy by learning about his nature and purpose and then living in light of who God is and who we are as his people.” (30-31)
There is much to think about here. There are some subtle distinctions that he is drawing that should be carefully considered. Any thoughts?