A couple of months ago, we walked past a guy wearing a T-shirt that had the message on the front “I CAN DO ALL THINGS.” There’s a verse in the New Testament that says ” I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me,” and as we walked past him I wondered if that was the message he was trying to convey. In that moment I wanted to stop him and ask him, but the moment went, and we had walked on. I still wonder what the slogan was all about.
Then, some time just before the American presidential elections, I was watching a T.V. programme about Donald Trump, to do with his friendship with Norman Vincent Peale, church minister and author. In 1952, Peale wrote a book ‘The Power of Positive Thinking,’ that greatly influenced Trump. This relationship seems to have been a decisive factor in Trump’s worldview, shown for example in Trump’s frequent claims that they were going to beat the coronavirus any day soon, despite the evidence that infections were increasing.
So the slogan – I can do all things – can mean different things. For Peale and his followers it might be about the power that we can exert over our circumstances by virtue of our ‘Can do’ attitude. For the Christian, it must mean something completely different. For the Christian, it must be based, not in our own strength, but in humility. And it’s not about denying the obvious facts just because we see things differently.
It often means, for example, dealing with the hard things that come our way – not by denying that the hard things exist, or by making them disappear, but by finding the grace to live with them.
Grace and Peace.