A close shot of holy bible on a wooden surface with the sun shining in the background (Photo: iStock - Wirestock)

Read Philippians 4:4-9

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.—Philippians 4:4-5 (NIV)

The year 2020 was a hard year for everyone. In my country we experienced turmoil not only because of the COVID-19 pandemic but also because of political unrest, which we are still experiencing. Every day seems a nightmare, and I feel little peace in my heart.

I can relate to the apostle Paul in his letter the Philippians. He was in prison, and the church in Philippi was worried about him. He used a form of the word rejoice 13 times. Why would he speak of joy when he may have been about to die? For Paul, joy and comfort came from the Lord: “Rejoice in the Lord always.” Even in the toughest situations God is near us, and that nearness gives us comfort and joy.

I have experienced a number of challenging situations: I failed the CPA exam twice; the university I was working with closed; my parents both work at a bank and thus are at higher risk for COVID-19 exposure. However, Paul’s words remind me to rejoice—even in these stressful times—because no matter what, Jesus is still our Savior.

Even though we experience pain and suffering, God remains faithful. We can find joy in that truth. And in our rejoicing, God gives us “shalom”—peace.

Prayer: O Lord, your peace transcends all understanding. May our eyes be fixed on your Son, Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Amen.

Thought for the day: Even in difficult times, God is faithful to bring me joy.

—Sergio Luis Alfonso, Philippines