Philippians 4:4-8-A pretty well known bit of scripture…but recently, it has come to life in a new way. As my precarious surroundings continue to swallow me up, it is far too easy to slide into a bog of depressing contemplation. I tend naturally to be a bit of an Eeyore. There are days, especially recently, when I can find very little to be positive about.
When I am reading passages from the Bible, my eyes often graze over the pages and familiar words, never to pull them down from their ethereal position and really grab a hold of their practicality. However, Tim read this section to me a few days ago and I was able to take away some very useful and tangible instruction.
Phil 4:4-8, “Rejoice in the Lord always: again, I say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is anything excellent, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
I love the last bit where he writes, “if there is anything excellent, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things”. It’s like he’s saying, “c’mon…just think of something good, something productive”…even if it’s simple. Although it says that God’s peace surpasses our understanding, we can know it by grabbing hold of the strength in these words and applying them to our own circumstances.
Soon after arriving in Africa, I began practicing a little game in my head as lay down every night to go to sleep. I make myself think of 5 positive things about that day. There is only one rule of the game and that is, I can’t use the word “not” in my list. For example, “I did NOT have to eat barbequed snail today” doesn’t count or “I did NOT take a shower in water from the septic.” In other words, I wanted to force myself to think of something actually constructive, and not just list the negative things I had managed to avoid. It’s not always easy, especially on days when the plumbing is down or the generator won’t start or we are out of drinking water…but as time goes by, I have become better at the game and can now usually list more than five things before I go to bed and even sometimes play it in my mind throughout the day when I encounter unpleasant circumstances. It calms my rattled mind and helps the tensions and frustrations of the day to fade. So, my five positive things for the day?
1.) I had a coke today and it was cold. I like coke, so that was nice
2.) I was able to take a clean shower today
3.) I ate fried plantain with aioli…YUM
4.) I got some good photos at the refugee camp
5.) I watched an Office episode on my laptop with Tim and we died laughing