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Read Philippians 4:4-9

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7 (NRSV)

Sergio Luis Alfonso lives in Bulacan in the Philippines. The year 2020 was a hard year for everyone. In Sergio's country they experienced turmoil not only because of the COVID-19 pandemic but also because of political unrest, which they are still experiencing. Everyday seems a nightmare, and Sergio feels little peace in his heart.

Sergio can relate to the apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians. He was in prison, and the church in Philippi was worried about him. He used a form of the word rejoice 13 times. Why would he speak of joy when he may have been about to die? For Paul, joy and comfort came from the Lord: "Rejoice in the Lord always." Even in the toughest situations God is near us, and that nearness gives us comfort and joy.

Sergio has experienced a number of challenging situations: He failed the CPA exam twice; the university he was working with closed; his parents both work at a bank and thus are at higher risk for COVID-19 exposure. However, Paul's words reminds him to rejoice - even in these stressful times - because no matter what, Jesus is still our Savior.

Prayer: O Lord, your peace transcends all understanding. May our eyes be fixed on your Son, Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Amen.

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