Devotion - Hope in the Midst, Part 3

All this week our devotions are from members of the West Side family. Since we are separated during this time, and you are hearing a good deal from me as your pastor but less, perhaps, from one another, it's a gift to hear and join in how others in our fellowship are walking with Jesus during this time.

Today's devotion is from Stacy Kutz. Stacy is on staff at WSPC, working with our Kids & Families, Youth, and Young Adults.

(Psalms 21-25 / Proverbs 5 / Philippians 4:4-5)

This is the final installment of our series Hope in the Midst.

To summarize the last two devotions (last Thursday and Friday):
  • No matter what else is going on, no matter what our circumstances, nothing stops the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Extraordinary circumstances provide us with extraordinary opportunities.

Today we see that real joy for Christians flourishes in the midst of trials. This sounds counter-intuitive. Why would I have extra reasons to be joyful when my kids are locked away at home, or I’m furloughed from work, or I am isolated from my family, or I’m uncertain about my future, or I am treated unfairly because of the color of my skin, or I don’t know what’s going to happen in our country or the world? Why would I feel joyful?

When you read the book of Philippians the verb rejoice is used at least 9 times in 4 chapters and the noun joy is used at least 5 times. We could say that this book, written while the Apostle Paul is in prison, is the most joyful book in the Bible!

Philippians 4:4-5 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” (a plug here parents… I remember this verse because of a song I learned in Bible school many years ago!)

Paul isn’t telling us to ignore what circumstances we have. He’s directing us to get perspective on those circumstances. He writes in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.” Paul isn’t saying difficulties don’t matter, but that they are parts of a larger picture, a whole world filled with blessings, too.
Trouble and anxiety are real. COVID-19 is real. Racism is real. But when we pause to recognize and thank God for His blessings in the midst of them, He gives us peace.

Paul is so joyful in the midst of trial because he knows Jesus Christ. For Paul, for those of us who know Christ, our joy is rooted in a hope that will not die. Jesus Christ died for my sins, for all our sins, and He rose from the dead so that all who believe in Him can have eternal life. If we know we have eternal life, we have a joy that only is going to deepen in the midst of these trials. We look around and we can say even though I don’t know what is coming in the immediate future, I know what is coming in the long term. Jesus is going to come back and provide eternal life that will never end. No matter what happens today.

My prayer is that you will continue to dig deeply into that joy and then move into the world around you and proclaim the life and hope that is in Christ Jesus.
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