Last week was rough for me. It was one of those weeks where my emotions were haywire - work was difficult, the kids were fighting and I didn’t handle it well. I’ve had weeks like that before, and yet came out of them closer to God and more determined and faithful. That was not the case last week. Still in my funk, I grudgingly went to church yesterday only to have the veil pulled back from my heart, and my soul enlightened.
Sunday’s sermon was taken from Matthew 5:10, where the Bible says, “10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. The pastor went on to talk about many modern day martyrs and Christians in more than 20 countries who are being persecuted in horrific ways because they profess Jesus as Lord. I walked out of church sobered and grateful for the opportunity to repent of my selfishness and ingratitude.
Last night I was taking a few minutes before bed to contemplate my heart and where it had been heading. I thought about the book of Philippians and Paul’s authorship of this book from prison. His attitude is nothing short of astounding, especially considering the extremely barbaric conditions known to have existed in prisons during this time period. More than likely, Paul was shackled in heavy chains, given very little to eat and was kept in a space filled beyond capacity with other prisoners. Under those extremely difficult circumstances, he sang hymns to the Lord and wrote the book of Philippians.
Philippians 4: 4-9 says, “ 4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
Though I was anxious – worried about my kids, work and my place in church ministry - verses 6-7 really struck me. I had to stop my anxiousness, fill my spirit with gratitude and then God’s peace would supersede any situation and guard my heart. If only I had read the Word and “put it into practice,” as Paul says in verse 9, then maybe my mindset might have been different. With a different mind, peace may have guarded my heart - and I could have been rejoicing instead of weeping.
I do not know what this week will bring my way. I seriously doubt it will be much different circumstantially. I am praying though, that it will be much different as I keep my blessings in perspective and “Rejoice in the Lord always.”