Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians 4:8 (ESV)
Over the years I have returned to Philippians 4 more times than I can remember. Each time I find a little more depth, another facet – like turning a precious gem and seeing something new in the refracted light, another color shimmering off a contoured edge, another image where the light intersects.
Today as I read Philippians 4:8, I was reminded once more to be mindful of how we view things here on earth. We must not get too caught up in anything this world has to offer. Whether good or bad, happy or unhappy, celebratory or painful, there is no forever here. In a very real sense, nothing lasts forever.
Except God. And His kingdom.
Remembering this brings me great comfort. Nothing any of us face is so awful, so tragic, so painful that the Lord won’t look upon us. Indeed, just the opposite. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1, ESV). The words “very present help” can also be translated “well proven help”.
In other words, your troubles are not your reality.
Your pain is not your reality.
Your mourning is not your reality.
I say none of this to belittle the hurt you might be feeling. What I am saying is that, instead of staring at our hardships, or weaknesses, or shame or guilt, or fear, or distress, Paul reminds us to fix our eyes on our true, eternal reality as followers of God through Jesus Christ. Look at the Lord. He is our Rock, our Salvation, our Strength. He is the author of Truth, and the defined of reality.
Our perception is limited. Instead of trusting in our faulty vision, God – our loving, Heavenly Father – wants us to trust Him. Rely entirely on Him. There is no trouble too deep, no pain to piercing, no hardship too tough for God. God does not simply love you. He is Love Himself. Love is His very nature.