Philippians 4:4,6-7 – May you always be joyful in your union with the Lord. I say it again: rejoice! Don't worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking with a thankful heart. And God's peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus.
The previous three devotions have featured Rhoda, the woman "behind that smiling face." In case you have been wondering how she received this wonderful faith, here is her story.
When Rhoda was eleven years old, two travelling evangelists were holding meetings in a nearby Anglican Church. One night she and her parents attended a service. Following the message, an invitation was given, for all who wanted to give themselves to the Lord to come to the front of the sanctuary. Before the eyes of her startled parents Rhoda responded at once. Whatever happened that night, Rhoda had a very strong sense that she was being looked after. That clear assurance, which removed worry and gave her a marvellous sense of peace, is still with her. She has since come to realize that it is a gift from God. She didn't seek it, it just came to her.
For all her life, Rhoda has been a loyal member of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. During her childhood and the first half of her married life, farm chores, bad winter roads, and distance made attendance at worship quite irregular. Thanks to a kindly lady, a Sunday School was available in a nearby Orange Hall to which Rhoda went at times. For the last twenty years, however, she has been to church almost every Sunday. I mention these things about Rhoda's life to illustrate that she has had no special opportunities for spiritual understanding and growth. Jesus Christ is Lord and he does with us what he chooses. He knows what we need. He gives what is best.
Recently she found some words in her church bulletin that express well her own attitude about the way she is. "The remarkably cheerful person has a positive and optimistic outlook on life, always finds something to be thankful for, and has a 'catching smile'. Happiness in life does not depend upon personal circumstances, wealth or material things. Instead, the inward happiness of a cheerful heart can give us courage and strength to overcome the sad or tough times of life."
For my part, I see in Rhoda the kind of life that the apostle Paul wrote about in Philippians 4:4,6-7 above. She rejoices always. She refuses to worry. She asks for what she needs and always with a thankful heart. As a result, the peace of God which passes all human understanding keeps her heart and mind safe in her union with Christ Jesus. If Rhoda were to have a motto it could be, "I will trust and not be afraid."
Prayer: Great God of all the earth, marvellous and mysterious are your ways. We praise and thank you for taking care of each of us individually, and providing for our every need. May your goodness continue, and may we learn to share with others the rich blessings you have poured out on us. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.