by Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, cssp
Scripture: Philippians 4:4-7
In Philippians 4:4-7, Paul gives us some important, practical advise,
"Rejoice in the Lord always" (Philippians 4:4) and
"Do not worry about anything" (Philippians 4:6).
Doesn't this sound like the famous hit by Bobby McFerrin, Don't Worry Be Happy? Even though we live in a world that is chock-full of toys, comforts and luxuries yet fewer and fewer people seem to experience true peace and satisfaction in their lives. Rather we continue to experience more and more worry and anxiety. Life is full of problems, as Bobby McFerrin admits, yet he goes on to advise us not to worry:
In every life we have some trouble/
When you worry you make it double/
Don't worry, be happy.
Ain't got no place to lay your head/
Somebody came and took your bed/
Don't worry, be happy.
The landlord say your rent is late/
He may have to litigate/
Don't worry, be happy.
Ain't got no cash, ain't got no style/
Ain't got no gal to make you smile/
But don't worry, be happy.
Yet there is a big difference between St Paul and Bobby McFerrin on this issue. Bobby McFerrin tells us "Don't worry, be happy" without telling us why we should be happy or more importantly how to not worry. Paul, on the other hand tells us in today's reading both why we should be happy and how we can dissolve our worries and attain happiness. Here we have Paul's key to happiness.
The first part of the reading tells us why we should be happy and not worry.
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near" (Philippians 4:4-5).
We should be happy not because everything is going well with us right now, not because our health and finances are in great shape, not even because someone has bought us a big Christmas present, but simply because the Lord is near. We should be happy not because of what we have seen in the past or what we see today but because of what we shall see tomorrow. It is a happiness that springs from the faith and the hope that our Lord is coming to wipe away the tears from all eyes.
I can think of a friend of mine who was diagnosed of leukemia around this time some years back. Before he died only weeks later he asked me,
"But why me? I never smoked or touched a drink in my life. I know people who smoke and drink and do all the wrong thinks and yet they never got cancer. So why me?"
I wish I knew the answer.
No one really knows the answer. But Paul today reassures us that the coming of the Lord will be a happy surprise for those who believe and hope in Him. It helps if we remember that Paul is writing these words from the dark walls of a Roman prison where he was not sure of coming out alive. So here he is teaching us not only by word but by example as well.
"Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near."
The Lord is coming. "And all shall be well. And all manner of things shall be well" to use the famous words of Julian of Norwich.
It is one thing to know why one should not worry and another to know how not to worry. How could one keep from worrying when one is surrounded by apparently insurmountable problems and difficulties? Paul gives us an answer in the second part of the reading.
"Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." (Philippians 4:6)
In every situation, in every difficulty or problem, in all circumstances, Paul knows one thing we should do rather than worry, and that is: take it to the Lord in prayer. Paul does not ask us to deny that we've got problems or to pretend as if they are not there. He urges us rather to face our problems squarely, not with worry but with prayer. Turn worries into prayers.
This is how we arrive at that inner peace which people around us cannot understand.
"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7).
It is the peace that God gives, the peace that nothing in the world can give, and all because we have learnt to trust God in everything and in every situation. All because we have learnt to bring everything to God in prayer. No matter the magnitude of the problems facing us at this time, we can with the prisoner Paul pray with joy and confidence:
"Maranatha, Come Lord, Jesus."
Fear Not! - A Message for Uncertain Times by Linton Smith
Donít yield to fears.. but hear what God says.. I created and formed you.. I redeemed you.. I summoned you by name.. I love you.. I will be with you.. and trust Him.. press on.. with courage and faith.
What do you fear?
Fear can be debilitating. Fear cripples many, limits abilities to enjoy even the simplest things in life and in some cases stops people from having medical procedures that could prevent major health issues.
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