By most measurable standards, this is a great time to be alive in America. Lifespans are ever increasing. the overall standard of living continues to rise (even if some demographics suffer), and technology continues to produce miracles. But if you are a Christian and take it seriously there is a deep sense of foreboding. There is the continued effort to cast our morality (morality which has guided the western world for centuries) as discriminatory. Our culture’s art celebrates suicide and death. I could go on listing sources for that sense of foreboding all day long.
But it is Sunday morning. The day the Lord set aside for rest and for special, communal worship. Other days of the week, despite our best efforts, life can cause us to lose focus on God. But this is the day that God asks us to put the rest of life to the side and focus on Him.
As he closes his letter to the church at Phillippi, the Apostle Paul instructs them on how to live in times of difficulty and closes those instructions with his own example. They are excellent words for today:
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.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.