There is a powerful verse in Philippians 4, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” that matches up perfectly with a verse from the book of Sirach. “…he turned him back into earth again, but clothed him in strength like his own.” †Sirach 17:2 Let’s start unpacking these beauties found in Philippians 4 and Sirach 17 as a part of my 31 Days of reading the book of Sirach.
First, and quickly, I just love it when you can very obviously connect the dots between scriptures. Here we have two verses that compliment each other nicely…but one was written approximately 200 years before Christ and the other written some 60 years after Christ. I love seeing God’s infinite and eternal wisdom in such a circular manner. He has always been and will always be and what He said then, in Sirach, applied in St Paul’s time when he was writing to encourage the Philippians, and applies to us today.
Now to the meat of these verses. What word stood out to you? For me it was “strength.” The idea that I can do anything…anything…because Christ strengthens me, makes me feel–well, powerful…and confident, and not so alone. And I relied on that verse in some pretty dark days. As a matter of fact, I wear one of those rubber bracelets with Philippians 4:13 on it. (In my phone camera gallery, the picture in my Instagram feed that shows me holding a beautiful rosary made by Barbara, shows the bracelet, but Instagram cut it off.)
But the verse in Sirach really expands the Philippians verse. The previous verse in Sirach, mentions God making man in His own image and eventually turns him back into earth again…but in the meantime…God clothes man “…in strength like His own.” Did you notice that?
Let that verse sit for a minute. That is a verse that definitely needs to settle. That is a verse to come back to my friends, time and time again.
Times are hard. I was just thinking today that we live in such a negative world. A world where rude has become socially acceptable and cruel is laughed off with a “just kidding.” Fun is often at another’s expense and where is joy? It’s hard to feel strong, much less be strong when we feel like we’re being buried at the bottom of the dog pile of life.
I read that quote on…where else, Pinterest. Isn’t it amazing and wonderful to consider the heap–of you know what–we may feel like we are under as fertile ground for something better and more beautiful than just a pile of stinky of manure? Consider the strength of a tiny seed or bulb that we bury with the anticipation and expectation of the beauty it will produce when it pushes through the layers covering it. Only when that seed or bulb gets covered does the fun begin. What if we took this strength of God’s and considered it in terms of growth and not death?
I know, trust me, I Know…so much easier said than done. But really, what is the alternative? Look around, if you dare, listen to the news filled with reports of death and destruction. People have given up. But listen, we can choose how we think about our situation. We can either be clothed in strength, ready to bloom, or buried under life and wait it out in a deep, dark, hole of decay. I choose strength and life…and horses!