Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy it will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.
from The Dance of Life by Henri Nouwen (2005)
Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.
When Paul wrote this letter, he was in prison, awaiting trial by the Romans that would most likely end with his death. This does not sound like a time to be giving thanks. Paul could have been lamenting, but he instead writes a letter to all of his friends and followers and offers them words of thanks. In this moment of great suffering, Paul celebrates.
When all seems hopeless, who is the first person that you would reach out to? When you reach out to them, would it be with lamenting or with thanksgiving?
In my home, before our children go to bed most nights, we pray together by sharing the good and the not-so-good moments of our day. We mention both, because even the not-so-good moments are still shaping us into becoming fully-formed people of God.
When Paul wrote to the Philippians, he taught them and us how to face adversity. May we all follow Paul’s lead and learn to be thankful for the good and not-so-good moments of our days, so that we may find the peace of God in all things.
God, when life seems to be at it darkest, remind me to give thanks. Move me beyond the dire and into a time of remembering the people that have helped me through. Help me to use the good and the not-so-good moments of my life as examples to encourage others as I have been encouraged. Amen.
You Go now.
Move from a place of hiding.
Seek kindness and there you will find the face of God in every person you meet.