"In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to."
Phil 4:4-8: Having the right perspective. We have the time right now to examine our priorities and determine what actually matters.
If we are to be people who rejoice always, how do we do that? Paul takes us through a process. It's not about circumstances. It's a choice. Will we be people who rejoice always? We have to gain the proper perspective, look at things the right way.
a. Start by demonstrating reasonableness, or gentleness. Do what's fitting, what's right, think clearly. This time may help us see we've been focusing on the wrong things. We've lost reasonableness when we're focused on this world, on temporary things.
b. Don't be anxious for anything. He's not saying don't be careful, don't ignore everything. He's saying don't be overly concerned, especially about things beyond our control. Sometimes we let our minds run wild on things that COULD happen. Jesus tells us in Matt 6, if we focus on the kingdom of God, all of life's necessities - food, clothing etc. - will be added unto us. Don't worry about those things, don't worry about tomorrow. Focus on today.
c. then pray to God. with thanksgiving, and the peace of God will come to you. 1 Pet 5 says cast all your cares upon Him. Paul is not saying all of our problems will vanish, what he's saying is will have peace in the midst of our problems.
We have to train our minds to be able to find the right perspective. Verse 8, we can change the way we think. It's a choice. It will require meditation, thinking on the right things, things that are good in life.
Here are some suggestions for how to do this:
1. Start with the things you have you're thankful for - your house, your job, your family.
2. Use your senses. Start observing life, appreciate what you see in the world around you. Think of smells you like, enticing aromas that give you pleasure. Run through all the senses and appreciate what they give you.
3. Focus on experiences, the things that happen in life. Talk at the end of each day about what went well that day. You may have to create experiences - get off the couch, put aside your phone, turn off the TV, DO something.
4. Journal, and then look back later at what you wrote.
5. Stop judging yourself and over-analyzing. Don't minimize even the smallest of blessings you have written down you are thankful for. They all count.
In verse 8, Paul is not saying think only happy thoughts. He is saying to think about things like honor and virtue, deeper things. Ancient philosophers sat and discussed just such things. Compare that with what you hear in the world. What types of things are truly honorable, truly noble?
Perspective is the fruit of a well trained mind.
We have to develop the right way of thinking.
So why do this? Why be people who rejoice always? Because you will find peace. And when you have peace, you will have joy. Paul was able to find joy and tell people about it even from a prison cell.
Rejoicing is not about circumstances. It is a choice. Maybe this current crisis is a perfect opportunity for us to realize the circumstances we now find ourselves in will not affect our choice to rejoice in the Lord always.