I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. -Psalm 119:11
By Yodit Kifle Smith
We are indeed living in interesting times. While we never fully understand why things happen the way they do, we do know one thing: God is on His throne (Psalm 47:8) and He is at work (Psalm 121:4). For those of us who have put our trust in Him, this is a time where we will see whether we trust in His sovereignty or whether we have picked when to believe in His sovereignty.
All over the world, people are feeling the impact of the corona virus. We don’t have to go far to see the kind of fear and anxiety that it’s brought about in people. I’m sure we have felt them rise up in us.
We know that fear is a real thing and it’s a natural response to uncertainty and feeling like we have no control. But it’s also a path that can lead us away from leaning into the Lord instead or a path that can lead us to prayer. We must look to God’s word to be reminded of the One we serve and His promises that stand beyond the chaos of the circumstances around us.
And in God’s word, we are given commands that remind us that in trials and chaos, we as believers don’t have to respond in fear.
In John 16:33, Jesus tells us that we will have trouble in this world but He gives us this command: “Take heart!” Why? Because He has overcome the world. We belong to the One who is sovereign over this world. While the world is in chaos, we can be in total peace. The kind of peace that Philippians 4 talks about.
The second command is found there. In Philippians 4:4, Paul commands the church at Philippi to “Rejoice in the Lord, and again I say rejoice!” If I’m honest, I don’t know if there is anything about this situation we are dealing with, that would conjure up any rejoicing BUT we see that Paul wasn’t telling them to rejoice in their situations but IN the Lord. To rejoice IN the Lord is to rejoice despite the circumstances and IN the reality that God is on His throne. That God’s grace is still sufficient. That God is still provider. That God is our hope. He is still good and is always at work whether we understand it or not.
As we rejoice IN the Lord, it also means we mourn with our neighbors because of the tragedies of lost lives around the world or the reality of lost jobs, bringing financial burdens on families. These two things don’t have to be at odds with each other.
Moving along in that passage, Paul goes on to tell them that as they rejoice, remember that the Lord is at hand—He is at work. (vs. 5) and then he goes on in verse 6 to affirm the reality of their anxiousness and fear, but the truth that they don’t have to stay in that place. They can bring it all to the Lord in prayer. Rejoicing in the Lord pushes us to pray with thanksgiving to the Lord, while bringing about every fear, anxiety, concern, burden and care to Him because He cares (1 Peter 5:11)
We have been given the incredible privilege to pray to the Creator of everything and bring our requests before Him. As we cry out, we do so, knowing that God is very much concerned with our burdens. He doesn’t tire of our crying out to Him—asking that He would cause this virus to cease and lives be healed. and government to lead well in this time. He cares about it all. He hears it all. And He will respond.
As we take on the habit of making prayer our posture, Paul goes on to give them and us one of the most beautiful promises of God in His Word. In verse 7, we are given the promise of something that nothing in this world can offer. His Word promises us that God’s peace will guard our hearts and minds. This isn’t just any peace. This is a peace that transcends human’s ability to understand or make sense of things as it is in our nature to do. But we must be willing to give up our right to understand. It’s the kind of peace that others will look at and ask how can you be so certain in these times of uncertainty? How can you rejoice in these times of chaos? And the answer is because you have put your hope in not just an idea—but in the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) Himself. His name is Jesus.
This Peace—Jesus-- stands at the door of our heart and mind, guarding us from the lies the enemy would throw at us. Lies that cause anxiety to fill our minds. Lies that open the door for bitterness to creep in at the fact that we have to see this happen in our lifetime and so many people have to suffer. Lies that make you trust in your own understanding instead of trusting in God.
But this Peace won’t let those lies bombard you. This Peace will “keep in perfect peace those whose minds are stayed on Him” (Isaiah 26:3).
So, is your mind fixed on Him? Or is it consumed by the news? The reality is that a mind consumed by the news won’t be a mind guarded by this Peace. Nor is a mind avoiding the news consumed by this Peace. But a mind who is found fixed on the Lord through His Word, prayer and worship will be guarded by this Peace.
Sisters, while this time can bring about many negative things, we must also see that He is always at work. Know that God is at work mightily—causing the church to be stripped of the things that don’t matter and focus on the things that do: loving Him and loving our neighbors.
I was reminded in my church’s service this Sunday that there is still goodness to see in this time: We can see the:
Beloved, keep clinging to the One who sits on His throne! We aren’t bound by what’s happening around us but bound in the love of the One who is over all things. Take heart and rejoice IN THE LORD!
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The weekly devotionals seek to encourage you to dig deeper into Scripture as you take the time to daily read, meditate, and internalize the verses in the devotional, along with the passages provided below to give greater context. Take the time to read them throughout the week (repetition is important) and ask the Holy Spirit to help you grasp what God is showing you about Himself, about you, and how to live in light of these truths.
Passages to read/memorize/meditate:
Questions to Reflect on: