Finding peace, sometimes even rejoicing, in suffering

Posted Jan 26, 2018

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Daily Scripture

Philippians 4:6-7

6 Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. 7 Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.

Acts 5:40-42

40 After calling the apostles back, they had them beaten. They ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, then let them go. 41 The apostles left the council rejoicing because they had been regarded as worthy to suffer disgrace for the sake of the name. 42 Every day they continued to teach and proclaim the good news that Jesus is the Christ, both in the temple and in houses.

Reflection Questions

It was amazing that in Acts 5, the apostles, after a beating, “left the council rejoicing because they had been regarded as worthy to suffer disgrace for the sake of the name.” Paul wrote Philippians 4 in prison (cf. Philippians 1:13-14). He was not only suffering physical discomfort, but mental uncertainty. The Romans might execute him—or free him (cf. Philippians 1:20-26). Paul’s words were not just religious “happy talk.” With every reason to be anxious and upset, like the apostles in Acts 4, he instead wrote about prayer and peace from resting in Jesus.

  • “The apostles left the council rejoicing because they had been regarded as worthy to suffer disgrace for the sake of the name.” Before Jesus' death, the apostles had squabbled about which of them should be greatest. How had they come to understand and live into God’s priorities more clearly? How can you open your heart to God’s peace-giving power, as the apostles had?
  • What did Paul say results from presenting your requests to God in prayer? Do you ever wish he’d said, “Bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions—and God will make everything come out the way you want”? What made the gift of God’s peace more precious for the condemned apostle than any other gift? In what ways does our wish for total understanding, to figure everything out logically, at times rob us of peace?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, I want to walk every day in your peace. Keep my heart safe in your hands. Amen.

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Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe helps facilitate Journey 101 “Loving God” classes, guides a 7th-grade Sunday school class, is a member of a small group and a men’s group, and serves on the curriculum team.

As I mourned the passing of my New Year’s Resolutions (That was quick – Editor.  Well, last year didn’t go so well either.  I resolved to have a thinner body & a heftier bank account – I was 2/2, if it was “Opposite Day” – DL.), I was pondering how the life of Joshua – hero of the Old Testament might relate to today’s passage.

In our 9th Grade Sunday School class this past Sunday we considered the character traits of Joshua & how they can apply to our lives.  I contended that our friend Joshua was the Forrest Gump of the Old Testament.  He appears in multiple scenes critical to the formation of the Israelite nation even before his exploits in the Book of Joshua.  Let’s take a look:

  • Shortly after the Israelites had escaped from Pharaoh’s Egypt, Joshua was the key leader in the great battle with the Amalekites. 
  • Joshua is the only one who accompanies Moses to Mt. Sinai where Moses receives the 10 Commandments.
  • Upon Moses’ return with the Commandments, he confronts the Israelites & their worship of the Golden Calf.  Joshua defends Moses from attack.
  • Joshua appears to be the main custodian of the “Tent of Meeting” or Tabernacle
  • Joshua was one of the 12 spies sent into the Promised Land.  Ten of the spies came back with exaggerated reports of the dangers lurking in the enemies of the land.  Only Joshua (& Caleb) said that with God’s help they could conquer the land.  The Israelites sided with the other spies.  Joshua was so distraught he tore his clothes in grief & was almost stoned to death.  This disbelief meant the Israelites were condemned to wander the desert as nomads for 40 years.
  • Moses officially recognizes Joshua as Israel’s new leader; Joshua leads the Israelites into Canaan & the rest is history.

As we consider today’s theme of peace through times of challenge, perhaps we could take inspiration from our friend Joshua.  Admittedly, many of us aren’t conquering a new land, storming fortified cities, or dealing with the chronic kvetching of our community.  (Kvetching? – Editor.  “Complaining” per my 2018 Yiddish Word-a-Day Calendar – DL.)

However, perhaps in our own way we ARE striving to conquer our worries, storming our entrenched fears, &, well yes, maybe dealing with a constantly kvetching crowd of colleagues in cubicles.

Maybe, ala Joshua, we could begin to find peace & comfort via our relationship with God.  As Joshua addresses his fellow Israelites near the end of his life, he challenges his friends to make a choice: serve the gods of their contemporaries or serve the one true God.  His conclusion is the stuff of cross-stitch samplers & kitchen towels: “As for me & my household, we will serve the Lord.”

As we give our New Year’s Resolutions a 2nd chance this week, perhaps in addition to striving for physical fitness & improved financial management we might be wise to also seek to enrich our spiritual health.  A closer relationship with Christ could be just what we need to help us begin to discover that peace that transcends all understanding – we could consider this to be the ultimate in “Cross"-Fit training.

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