Pay attention to the tension in your body. Let go of it and any expectations to do anything, but God’s will today. Prepare yourself to hear God’s word.
Philippians 4:4-7 (NRSV)
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
“Rejoice in the Lord always!” An easy sentiment to vocalize. Much harder to actually live. I’ve experienced too much in the last few years to rejoice always. I’ve attended too many funerals for young people. I’ve spent too many days and nights in hospital rooms. I’ve watched too many of my loved ones suffering, so why waste my time rejoicing?
In our scripture for today, Paul tells us, “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Sounds to me like words that were clearly written by someone who at that particular time had nothing to worry about. After all, such confidence is easy to have when life is easy, but when reality sets in and life gets hard, it is much more difficult to refrain from worrying. That is until you remember that Paul’s letter to the Philippians was written from jail. Paul had every reason to worry; he had every reason to give up his rejoicing, and yet, by some confusing phenomenon, he was at peace. Something was at work that seemed to surpass all understanding.
I think the key is found in verse 5. Despite all the hardships and pain and suffering Paul had suffered, the Lord was near. I have no doubt that you have experienced seasons in your life where you find it hard to rejoice. You might be in that season right now. But even if you are, never forget that the darkest night cannot keep the light of God from shining in your life. Even when you refuse to believe it, the Lord is near. And I think that is worth rejoicing.
God of the season of joy and the season of sorrow, though our seasons may change, your presence with us remains the same. Help us to feel your loving presence even in the darkest of nights, and help us to give thanks and rejoice in all times. God made known through the love of Jesus Christ, thank you for loving us. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Go with God!