4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. (NLT)
This scripture is one of my favourites in the Bible. I go back to these verses time and time again. They have given me great comfort and peace during the global pandemic we experienced over the last year.
Simply put, this last year has been a challenge. No one could have prepared for it, and it certainly has not gone the way any of us expected. In the beginning of 2020, when the pandemic began, I never imagined we’d still be dealing with it in May 2021; I thought it would be over by now.
Yet, here we are still dealing with restrictions, lockdowns, social distancing, and masks. There is hope on the horizon and I have faith that things will start getting better soon, but it has been quite difficult.
Like everyone else, I have gone through highs and lows during this Covid time. I’ve faced disappointments, lost visits with family, watched plans and events continually be cancelled, and I’ve spent the majority of my time alone. During the months of January and February, I saw less than 5 people in person. For the entire month of March, I did not see anyone in person other than delivery people.
Yet, I did not feel lonely. I missed people, of course. But God met me where I was at, and I have been so aware of His presence with me at all times. As a result, I have not been overcome with loneliness because I didn’t actually feel alone, despite the fact that I physically was.
I used the extra time I had to pray more, read the Bible more, listen to sermons, and journal. This brought me so close to our Father in Heaven, and He completely filled all of my needs during the first months of this year. This scripture from Philippians 4 helped foster that.
Verse 4: “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice!”
When we find joy in the Lord, things of this world can’t remove it. Yes, we still experience sorrow and struggle, but joy in Lord digs deep inside of us and it is a flame that cannot be distinguished. And there is always a reason to rejoice.
We can praise God for friends and family remaining healthy. We can praise Him for those who have recovered from Covid. We can praise Him for opportunities that have happened only because of the pandemic. We can praise Him for a slower pace and more time to be with Him. Throughout this pandemic, God has continued to shower us with love and blessings. Sometimes we just have to look a little harder to find them.
Verse 6: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.”
We all worry sometimes. We all stress. But we don’t have to. With everything, we need to turn to God in prayer. We need to surrender our worries and fears at His feet. This is easier said than done. But doing it, giving it all to God, provides freedom and peace.
Verse 7: “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
God’s peace is beyond anything we can comprehend. Yet, when we feel it, we know it can only be from Him. Living in His peace frees our minds from stress and worry. It allows us to serve Him fully and fearlessly. What an amazing gift. God loves us so much that He wants to take on our burdens and our fears. He wants to carry them for us, so we can experience His calm and His grace.
Verse 8: And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Focus on the good because everything good comes from God. There is a lot of negativity in the world. There is anger, bitterness and hate. It is easy to complain, especially during a lockdown. We can complain about not seeing friends or family. We can groan about wearing masks and not being able to go to our church service in person. We can get mad at those who are not following the restrictions and cast judgment on them.
Or we can focus on what is true. God is true. We can focus on what is honourable. God is honourable. We can focus on what is right and pure and lovely and admirable. God is right and pure and lovely and admirable.
We can choose to focus on God. We can choose joy. We can choose love.
Finally, verse 9: Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
I pray for God’s peace, joy and love for all of you.