Text: Phil 4:1-9
Think back to a time in your life when your world was crashing down. When you felt like the rug was being pulled out from under you. The sky was falling. It doesn’t take much. You could be flying high one moment and then one phone call and your entire life can be unhinged. In an instant.
Or think back to a time when you were beyond stressed. Your back was up against a wall and you could barely breathe.
Or think back to a time when you were so depressed. When nothing you tried worked. You hit a dead end and there was no way forward. You felt stuck. Life became drab. Everything seemed to be routine. The morning rolled around and you felt like calling in sick or skipping class and staying in bed all day.
Or think back to a time when you were so angry you could scream. Someone said something about you or did something to you and you couldn’t get it out of your mind. And the rewind button was pressed and you kept replaying that track over and over in your mind.
I remember about 5 years ago, Jeremiah was two and he came home and he had a rash and a high fever and we didn’t think anything of it. Then, the rash worsened and his hands and feet became swollen. We had been taking him to the doctor multiple times, but they kept sending us back home with various treatments but mainly they told us we needed to wait this out because kids who are 1-2 years old in daycare get a different illness every week. It could be roseola or an allergic reaction to something he ate. So we just kept him at home.
Then a day later, Jeremiah woke up and his eyes were bloodshot and he was limping. At that point, we knew something was wrong. We called the doctor and took him in right away. Fortunately, we had a good doctor who fought for us saying Jeremiah could have an extremely rare disease called Kawasaki disease. Most doctors don’t know about it and it’s so rare that it’s easy to misdiagnose. But our doctor, Dr. Penso in Culver City, fought for immediate treatment and within a few hours, we were in the hospital undergoing an emergency treatment. Jeremiah got hooked up to tubes and we had to hold him down for 16 hours, taking turns with him in our arms. With Kawasaki, you don’t know for sure that it is Kawasaki until you see how the patient reacts to the treatment. If the symptoms lessen, then it was Kawasaki. That’s the only way you know. And sure enough in Jeremiah’s case, he got better within a few hours. If we weren’t fortunate enough to treat him within the first 10 days, then there is possible, long-term damage to the heart.
It was a Friday night when we got admitted to the hospital and we got discharged Sunday morning and that was the very first time we gathered, a small handful of us, on Villa Street for our first worship service in Pasadena. And you can bet that we were obeying Phil 4:4 [READ].
But we were not rejoicing a day or two prior when we had no idea what was wrong with Jeremiah and we had no clue if he had Kawasaki and if it was Kawasaki, was he treated in time? It’s hard to rejoice when you see one of your own children suffer. As their father, I would gladly suffer if it meant my kids wouldn’t have to suffer. It’s greater suffering to watch someone you love in pain. In that moment, I have to be honest, it was not easy to live out Phil 4:4. There wasn’t much rejoicing in that hospital room. Yet, that is exactly what God calls believers to do.
How is it possible to rejoice when your son is ill and the doctor is just taking his best educated guess of what is wrong? How is it possible to rejoice when things are not going according to plan? Some people are happy-go-lucky because they’re young, they’re sheltered, they haven’t seen much brokenness or suffering in this world and so they think, life is good. Rejoicing is easy because God has been good to me. But if you’ve been around the block, then you know the longer you live life, the more life will throw curveballs at you. And if you are not able to rejoice, then you’re going to become a grumpy old man or woman. You might rejoice once every few decades when your team wins the World Series, but most of the time, you’re going to find plenty of reasons to be in a bad mood.
Chapter 4 begins with an important transition phrase. 4:1 – SO THEN. Paul explains in chapters 1-3, this is WHY we are to rejoice, here are the reasons.
Phil 1:6 [READ]
Salvation has come to us. Therefore…
Phil 1:21 [READ]
Before I was saved, I used to live for myself, now I live for Christ. My entire life is given to Christ and He can do whatever He wants with my life.
Phil 2, Christ who is fully God and had every right to remain in heavenly glory, emptied himself to become a man, and not just any man, but a servant, and not just any servant, but the lowliest of servants who came to wash the feet of his disciples he came to save, and not only that, he died a horrific, shameful death on a cross for the sins of the world. And because of this incredible humility, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name. And in light of Christ’s humility, this is the basis for…
Phil 2:1-4 [READ]
In case we forget that Christ is the motivation for living humbly before others, lest we elevate church or ministry above Christ, Paul reminds us in…
Phil 3:7-11 [READ]
Compared to Christ, compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ, everything else is loss, filth, rubbish, trash. There is no comparison because our desire to know Christ and love Christ and worship Christ and to have Christ and for Him to be our prize at the end of our lives. Jesus is so much higher and greater than even the best things this world can offer, you get the sense that Paul has run out of words. He is reaching for words to describe how he feels. It’s almost as if Paul gave up trying to express himself. The best he can do with his limited vocabulary is to curse. To say that Christ is so much more valuable than everything else, that whatever you think is valuable next to Christ is like bleep/excrement compared to knowing Jesus. It’s a rather shocking way to make a point, but I thinks he communicates the immense chasm, the unbridgeable gap between Christ and everything else.