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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Philippians 4:4–7

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (NRSV)

I find it difficult to rejoice in the Lord always. Perhaps Paul knows that; perhaps that is why he says it twice.

When I first drafted this devotion, my sister had been missing for ten months. She has since been found alive, but I continue to grieve for what her alcoholism has done to her and our family. If not her plenty of other tragedies take up space in my brain—a break up, shootings in my beloved Chicago and all over our nation, fear of losing my healthcare, reliving past harassment and assault as brave people come forward with their stories.

Rejoice? Always? Really?

What does it take to make all requests known to God? I have an active prayer life. It is cyclical. I cry out to God about my troubles and then try to remember gratitude.

I try to focus on my good health, my supportive friends, the beautiful church that accepts me and keeps me alive. I remember miracles I often take for granted, like respiration. My lungs move air in and out of my body, utilizing oxygen and expending carbon dioxide to keep me alive. I allow myself small pleasures—coffee with cream and sugar, steam room after yoga, the painting Los Ninos hanging opposite my bed. Reminders to stay alive.

There is supposedly some peace that will guard my heart and mind? Perhaps Paul knows how elusive it is. That’s why he says it passes all human understanding. It doesn’t come from anything I can figure out or do.

If I could stop trying to figure it out, would I be released from paralysis of sadness and inadequacy? Would that feel like rejoicing?

Dear God, please help me know that I am not you. Please release me from the pressure I put on myself to fix everything and be more than myself. Amen.

Written by Kat Evans, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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