Finding Joy in All Things

Read: But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him,  because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.” Philippians 2:25-30 (NIV)

Reflect: My family emigrated from the Philippines to the United States over 40 years ago. Like most immigrant families, my parents dreamed of providing a better future for their children. They were optimistic, trusting that God’s fingerprints were all over this new adventure.

Soon after arriving, Dad found out that the job transfer to the US promised by his employer would not materialize. This was devastating news! Mom had accepted a post to the Philippine embassy, which is what brought us to America in the first place. It was irreversible. They had sold our family home and shipped all of our belongings, both looking forward to a bright future. Because he did not have the appropriate credentials, my Dad had no option but to return to the Philippines. For four years, my parents lived apart – Mom raising three young children in a foreign country with no immediate family to call on for help; Dad doing all he could to join us permanently.

We saw Dad twice a year – on summer breaks and Christmas. The time apart took a toll on all of us. We deeply longed to reunite as a family. The sacrifices Mom and Dad made in order for us to have opportunities not available “back home” were enormous. Even so, through it all, they continued to have faith that God was always with us as we each navigated our “new normal.” To this day I am in awe of my parents’ relentless love of God and their deep-seated joy even through the toughest of circumstances. Such faith is the legacy my parents leave with us. For that I am profoundly grateful.

React: Who in your life has lived sacrificially for the benefit of others? How can you honor them today?

Pray: God, thank you for the people in our lives who sacrifice for the eternal benefit of others. May we joyfully serve you in serving others, even in the toughest of circumstances.