Bible Society of South Africa

Joy in the dark times – 8 October 2020

By Ewald Schmidt

Bible text(s)

1From Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus —

To all God's people in Philippi who are in union with Christ Jesus, including the church leaders and helpers:

2May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

Philippians 1:1-2GNBOpen in Bible reader

This year, 2020, must have been one of the most challenging times to have endured in our lifetimes. We soon came to realise that nothing could be taken for granted any more. At the beginning of the lockdown period, we experienced some difficult emotions. It ranged from fear to losing hope, even depression. But by God’s grace, we started to adapt to our new circumstances. We started to dig to find the true foundation on which we build our lives. It brought us to the question: Can I be happy in trying times? Can I live a life of meaning, even in times of uncertainty?

This is a good time to read Paul’s letter to the Philippians again. It is one of his prison letters. He is incarcerated in Rome, and would eventually pay the highest price for his faith in Jesus Christ. But this letter is full of joy and hope. The foundation of Paul’s joy is already visible in verse 1. This letter is written by Paul, with his young mentee, Timothy. They introduce themselves as servants of Christ Jesus. They belong to the Lord – that is the meaning of holiness. It is the most important characteristic of their lives when they introduce themselves. They write to the believers in Philippi, a city in Macedonia. And by God’s grace this letter has been preserved for our edification. Who are the readers? People who belong to God through the grace of Christ. It is not life and circumstances that determine our destiny. We belong to God.

To God’s children, He freely gives two gifts: the first is his grace. God loves us, regardless of our past. He loves me, and I can do nothing to deserve more of his love. He has given all his love to us through the love of Christ. The second gift is peace. Jesus came to restore our relationship with God our Father. We have peace with God by faith. When we walk a new path with Christ, the Holy Spirit also helps us to mend our broken relations with our neighbours. He heals us to return to inner peace. God’s grace and peace can never be taken from us.

Prayer: Lord, I am so grateful that I belong to you. Thank you that I am blessed with grace and peace every day. Thank you that I am being restored to meaningful and whole relationships with my neighbour, and that I am being healed from the scars of my past. Help me to remember that I am always safe in your care. Amen

Bible Society of South Africav.4.20.14
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