‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ I repeated to myself, about to hit the stage at Birmingham symphony hall. It wasn’t my first time, but today felt different. In the weeks leading up to the appearance, I’d been suffering from increasing anxiety – no known cause, just a perk of my natural physiology. At school, I would have pulled a sick day. On a national tour, not so easy. I leaned into the verse as the lights lowered and somehow put one foot before the other to get to centre stage. All I can say is, somehow, that night became one of the best shows I can remember. A peace fell over me as I found my voice through the fear and the Holy Spirit began to lead. I can only credit the confession of that scripture as I stood side of stage, and of course, God’s faithfulness to fulfill it.

The verse had been my favourite since I was baptized at the age of 21. My mum came to that service, in a packed 400-seater Anglican building. My faith was new and my largely atheist family weren’t altogether sure I hadn’t gone off the deep end. But mum had quietly been a believer her whole life, and was glad I was ‘taking the plunge’. She bought me a bracelet bearing the scripture, Philippians 4:13 engraved beside a small, dove symbol. I clutched it tightly as I was fully immersed in the cold water of the inflatable pool, and as I emerged I resolved to clutch the scripture from there onwards.

Years later I would find myself repeating it side-of-stage at concerts, supporting major artists in front of audiences that weren’t there to see me. I have always wrestled with a sense of being inadequate and unworthy of the opportunities I’ve had. Due to a life-long battle with my confidence, and occasional spells of depression and anxiety, this scripture has become something I clutch daily, just like I did the day of my baptism. Those words have enabled me to attempt things I would never have considered, and even on my weakest days, I have managed to make some of my best memories as a result. So it’s an important verse for me generally. But now more than ever, I feel it’s an important verse for all of God’s family.

As we enter a season of recovery from COVID’s rampage through our nation we need to stand on promises like these. The past few months have been a boot camp in learning to be content whatever the circumstance, the way Paul describes in the verses which precede my favourite.

12 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. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.’

We have faced the challenges of sickness and of increased need. We have watched our businesses and ministries suffer financially and felt the weight of the crisis within family life. But we know that through Christ we can face any of these circumstances and retain our victory. We can still be content because we know that God will strengthen us for the challenge and give us peace.

So whether your challenge today is rejoining the world whilst battling anxiety, or finding a way to keep your workforce employed, take a deep breath, put one foot before the other and take to the stage. God will give you peace, strength and The Holy Spirit will enable you as you confess his promises.