“Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable – if there is any moral excellence or if there is anything praiseworthy – dwell on these things.”Philippians 4:8, CSB
It has been a long and hard lockdown. The weather has been grey, the winds have been strong and bitterly cold, and even the hope of a route out of lockdown has been tempered by concerns about “data not dates” and phrases which, though now common parlance, were totally unfamiliar this time last year: the R-rate, vaccination doses administered as a percentage of the population, asymptomatic transmission, hospitalisation levels… The list goes on.
In the midst of this: daffodils peeking yellow above mud-churned soil, snowdrops clustering their heads under old pine trees, and daylight, slowly but surely, creeping into evening hours. For me, there has also been joy in the companionable stubbornness of our golden retriever, Max, and in achieving my mini-goal of running for 25 minutes non-stop. They are small, precious things which necessitate noticing in the onslaught of awfulness that has been the past year.
It is in this that I find treasure in the verse above. No longer a tool for chastisement (“Christians should only think things that are true and honourable and pure!”), the words have become a gentle reminder that there is some good amidst the rubbish. There are some just, lovely, commendable things that exist and are happening. Today. Now.
“God is still good,” I say to my soul, “even in this. Jesus is still compelling and captivating, the Holy Spirit is still the Counselor of peace and presence. He is still at work; his work is good; and I have a part to play in the beautiful story he is writing.” I may not always know what that part looks like (and in lockdown it looks quite different from what I could ever have envisioned), but in the words of one of the great thinkers of the modern age, Samwise Gamgee, “There’s some good in this world, Mr Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.”
May we be those who find what is true, honourable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable in things, however mired in muck they may be – and may we carry those characteristics of God with us as we go about his work.