I was recently at my daughter’s school. If you’ve been to an elementary school, you may remember that the walls are usually covered in the magnificent artwork of crayon-wielding geniuses, Elmers-glue-toting creators, and construction-paper magicians. These kids ranging in age from about 5-12 often have the creativity and fearlessness with expressing themselves that we adults either don’t take time to express or have lost the courage to do so.
Creativity has little to do with talent and more to do with audacity, I think. As adults with hectic schedules, though, sometimes creativity seems a bit harder to come by solely because time demands our energies elsewhere.
This school counselor’s staff has spent a lot of time in recent years helping the kids to embrace a movement towards kindness and in doing so, they often create artwork that is encouraging and uplifting. On this particular day, I walked down a very colorful hallway where each student had tirelessly worked to present a piece of art that simply stated this:
“I can do hard things”
The colors filling in the bubble letters were all different. Some kids proved that “hard things” sometimes includes coloring inside the lines. But what a message. Page after page swayed a little in the small breeze I created as I walked past almost cheering me on like a flag or a cheering section of a big game when everyone stands up one at a time to raise their arms in encouragement.
What if this was the message that we were to receive from our Father……oh wait, but it is!
We CAN do hard things. We can stand up for those who can’t. We can give when we have little. We can go where He leads. We can be patient when waiting is agonizing.
The apostle, Paul, as we know, spent much time writing and telling the story of Jesus’s death and resurrection and what it would mean for His followers. Many of his writings were during imprisonment in Rome for the act of doing just that. He continued to reach out because his gift was in the spreading of God’s words through letters to people who wished to know God’s love.
He endured multiple imprisonments, some more harsh than others. When he wrote to the Phillipians, it is believed that he anticipated his impending death…but wrote with authority, courage, and encouragement.
He was absolutely certain about this thing and his certainty fiercely challenges us today to live with audacity and courage, too:
He wrote, “I can do all things, through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13)
That’s what Paul wanted people to not just hear from him, but to take into their hearts, believe, and spread it…forever.
And now, look. Here in 2019, in a public elementary school, in a broken and hurting world where kids may have difficulties learning, have difficulty making friends, have difficulty resisting the temptations laid before them in social media or drugs or violence…here, on this day, not long ago, I walked through a hallway where I was cheered on like all of the kids who walk through that hallway everyday that:
I can do hard things!!!
We can not only do hard things but we are also asked to do hard things: to protect, to love, to forgive, to trust, to befriend, to come together, to follow our God…but we also have the incredible gift of being able to call on this same God (the same one Paul called upon) to give us the strength that we need!
For I can do all things, through Christ who strengthens me.
A little more of Paul’s letter to the Philippians encourages them further:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God.
And the peace of God which is beyond all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, bothers and sisters, whatever is noble, right, pure, whatever is lovely and admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things. Whatever you have learned from me or heard from me or seen in me—put it into practice and the God of peace will be with you….
For I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. (Phil 4: 6-8, 13)