19th January 2022

What is normal?

Be anxious for nothing, 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 minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)

The world today remains disrupted, but in some new ways. This raises a key question for us all: just what is normal? Today, social distancing and face masks, simple protections against disease, are no longer unusual, but normal. But we must now work harder to maintain relationships, as these important safeguards do get in the way; it is getting harder, it seems, to just talk to one another.

Meanwhile, the news tells us of other problems: climate change, energy crises and disruptions in the food chain. Will these remain ‘normal’? Will the future be full of these specific worries? Will these global concerns prompt us to put building relationships to one side and concentrate on survival and coping?

The book of Philippians tells us about an episode in the life of the Apostle Paul. He was in prison, with no indication of the outcome of his upcoming trial. Some people decided to publically preach the gospel in a deliberate attempt to make the situation even worse for Paul (Philippians 1:15). It also appears that Paul wasn’t quite sure at times where his next meal would come from (Philippian 4:12). Yet, in the midst of all this he tells the Philippians to ‘be anxious for nothing’ (Philippians 4:6). How could he have peace in such a difficult time? As he puts it: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ (Philippians 4:13).

Paul was used to perilous situations. In the middle of a violent storm on the Mediterranean Sea, an angel declared, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar…’ (Acts 27:24). Despite the surrounding chaos of a ship unable to steer in the battering caused by the wind and waves, God reassured Paul that his work was still being done. Paul was able to put aside a world full of troubles and rest in Jesus. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul effectively encourages us to do likewise.

The world remains ‘upside down’. Yet, in these difficult times, let’s encourage one another to look to Jesus. Matthew 11:28-30 records Jesus’ invitation to us all: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Holy Father, help us in our relationship with you, to develop this wonderful trait of resting in you, which only you can do. We ask you this, in gratitude to your precious Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Study by John Merchant


About the writer:
John Merchant attends the Nottingham congregation of
Grace Communion International.

Local congregation:
Nottingham Grace Communion
Lucy Brown Hall
Attenborough Lane

Meeting time:
Saturday 2pm

Local congregational contact:
Richard White
Email: nottingham@gracecom.church

Word of Life contact: