If you’re like me, you’re probably panicking a little bit right now. It feels like practically overnight everything went from bad to dangerous. I’m feeling very off-kilter, like I’m not quite sure what to do to move forward because I don’t know where forward is. I am a naturally anxious person, and so when it seems like the madness of the world has increased, I get worried. By that, I don’t mean I go out and panic-buy toilet paper, but I mean the pit I normally have in my stomach and the pressure in my head have grown. And without Jesus, I really don’t know how I’d cope.
Age of Comfort
We live in an age of relative comfort. Yes, I realize this is a privileged thing to say, because there are many people in our own country and around the world who are homeless, without food, and in other ways in need. But what I am saying is that for most of us, our lives and the normalcy of it aren't usually shaken. And it’s being shaken now. I want to look at one specific section of Scripture that I have been clinging to lately. Let’s read it now.
I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious 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.
Connection Is Powerful
In the first verse in this passage, we see two women who are in a disagreement. These women belonged to a congregation, and Paul writes about wanting to see them cast aside their disagreement, as it was affecting their work in the Kingdom. From this, we see that Paul is encouraging the community to prosper at the Church in Philippi.
We were built for community. We all seek connection, whether we realize it or not. And God built us this way. In this time of struggle and strife, we must not lose our connections to others. Paul, writing this letter from prison, shows us that connection from afar is possible. I’m not saying that we should move to all-online church services or events, but that we should practice being in community with one another, listening to one another, and being good neighbors while away from one another.
As we move along in the passage, we see that Paul calls us to not be anxious but instead to bring everything to the Lord in prayer. The Lord gives us wisdom, patience, and help.
Prayer is part of the daily Christian life. At all times, not just during a global pandemic, we should be praying. But for now, can I offer some ideas of what to pray for if you’re stuck, as I have been the past few days, in the panic?
- Pray for those who are sick, especially those with COVID-19, but also for those suffering from other ailments.
- Pray for doctors, nurses, and other health care providers, that they would stay safe from infection and from being overworked.
- Pray for a speedy resolution, that our world can move forward.
- Pray for peace as we look at a future that’s not only unknown but now also full of fear.
- And last, but certainly not least, pray that God would provide you with the opportunity to share His Gospel message during this pandemic.
Our Eternal Hope
At the end of the passage, Paul calls for the peace of God to be with us. The Lutheran Study Bible notes that “when life makes no sense, God’s peace sustains and directs us.”
I know that I have needed to shift my eyes toward hope, not toward the absolute chaos of what is happening. While I still don’t know what’s about to happen, I do know that our God is for us. And we need to remember that the Kingdom is not at risk. God is still on the throne. And Jesus was victorious over sin, death, and the devil.
At the end of his Letter to the Philippians, Paul writes, “All the saints greet you, especially those in Caesar’s household” (4:22). I remember the first time I studied Philippians in my college community group. The discussion about this closing passage blew my mind. You see, Paul is telling the Church at Philippi that there have been servants of the emperor who have turned to faith. While Paul was going through a difficult time in a Roman prison, Christianity in Rome was growing and spreading. God works good in what Satan meant for evil.
What this means for today, during this new trial, is that we need to serve our neighbor. Whether through social distancing or through bringing groceries to someone who isn’t able to go get them, we can serve our neighbors and show them Christ’s love. Let us rejoice as God continues to work throughout the world amidst this latest threat.
Find free resources to fix your eyes on the hope you have in Jesus.