The Upper Room devotional reflection for Tuesday, June 28, 2022 comes to us from Sergio Luis Alfonso of Bulacan, Philippines.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 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. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-9 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 to 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 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 a 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.
Most, if not all, of us have faced trying, challenging times over the past two years, whether from COVID-19 or difficult employment or illness. Since the nation first shut down because of the pandemic, I have been hospitalized three times and had two major surgeries. And now I am facing another surgery soon. Sergio Luis Alfonso reminds me to rejoice and remember the blessings from which I do benefit. As frustrating as this third surgery has become, I know that I will be treated by competent medical professionals. I know that many people face significantly more difficult situations than I am facing. So, I will rejoice not only in the gifts that I have received, but especially in God’s gracious, peaceful presence in my life. No matter what is going on in your life, I invite you to rejoice because God’s gracious love is offered to each of us without condition.
O Lord, your peace transcends all understanding. May our eyes be fixed on you Son, Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Amen.
--Sergio Luis Alfonso
Countries facing Political Unrest.
Thought for the Day:
Even in difficult times, God is faithful to bring me joy.