Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say, Rejoice!

Dear Hillcrest Family,

                It has definitely been a very interesting week for all of us! If you are like me, you do not want to hear the words Coronavirus or COVID-19 one more time. I wanted to write to each of you in order to help encourage you during this time when we are unable to meet as a church family. With all of the media coverage of the COVID-19 virus, we can be tempted to respond to with fear and anxiety. In the next few moments, can I encourage you to look to the Word of God? Philippians 4:4-7 states, “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

                Paul is instructing us on how to combat our own fear or anxiety. We must first look to the Lord as our source of Joy. This is what he means when he tells us to “Rejoice in the Lord alway.” We see several examples in the Bible of men of God who, during difficult and discouraging times, found their joy and encouragement in the LORD. Think of David from 1 Samuel 30. He had fled from King Saul and was living in the Philistine city of Ziklag. While David and his men were out of the city, the Amalekites invaded, burned the city, and had taken the women and children captive. Upon his return to the city, he and his men found the city ransacked and their families missing. His men were ready to stone David because they blamed him for the capture of their families. Scripture tells us that David was “greatly distressed.” This word was the idea of being pressed under a great weight. Some of us may be struggling with similar feelings in these unusual times. However, verse 6 goes on to tell us that David encouraged himself in the LORD and then sought godly counsel from Abiathar the priest. We must also seek to respond in similar ways today! May we “rejoice in the Lord always” and realize our joy and courage to face uncertain times comes from the God that we serve.

                In order for us to more fully experience the joy of the Lord, we must, secondly, take our concerns, fears, and requests to God in prayer. Prayer is one of the most powerful aspects of Christian life. Through our faith in Christ and prayer, we are able to access the very throne of God where we are able to share our concerns and fears with the God of Creation and the Savior of our souls. It is also as we come to God in prayer that the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ pray for and intercede on our behalf (Rom. 8:26, 34). When we struggle with feelings of worry or fear, may we run to our Father in Heaven to seek comfort, strength and encouragement!

                We must, third, remember to come to God with thanksgiving! Following the Vietnam War, a church was preparing to build a new sanctuary. Families were asked to make a donation on honor of their loved ones who had fought and served in the long war. Two families whose sons had both served in the war approached the minister following the service. The first family in line said, “Pastor, as you know, our son was killed in the war – We would like to give $200 as a memorial gift.” The second family approached the pastor and the husband said, “Pastor, we will give $500 in honor of our son.” As they left the church, his wife looked at him incredulously and stated: “George, our son did not die in Vietnam, why would you give $500?” He looked at his wife with tears in his eyes and stated, “That is exactly why I gave $500, our son did come home.” We are told over and over to give thanks to God in and for all things. As we face the COVID-19 virus, we need to keep a right perspective on all that we have. Remember that God has been so very good to each one of us. We may not be able to go to church, but we can still livestream or listen to recorded sermons and services. We may not be able to go to our favorite restaurant, but we still have food. Our children are learning at home instead of school, but God has given us children to love and encourage. The stock market is down, but God has promised to meet our every need. We may not be able to enjoy our normal activities and busyness of life, but God has slowed down our pace so that we can enjoy one another and have meaningful time with the people we love. There is so much we can be thankful for today!

Let us rejoice in the Lord, always! Seeking to find our joy in Him by taking our concerns and fears to Him and laying them at His feet, understanding that God is in control of our future. Then take a few moments to thank Him for all the ways in which God has blessed you!

In Christ,

Pastor Jeremiah Dewey