I have never traveled to the literal land of Macedonia. It probably has lovely places, interesting culture, kind people. But, no offense intended, figurative Macedonia is a rough place.
The apostle Paul describes it as a place where “our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within.” (II Corinthians 7:5 NASB) I’ve had little pieces of Macedonia in my life. I suspect we all have some Macedonia. Sleepless nights, crisis following crisis, frayed relationships, battles with worry.
How about you? Have you visited this land?
My worst times of Macedonia came when my teenage son was suffering a deep depression. Therapy, medication, and hospitalizations took over our lives, but seemed to never touch the problem. After three years of “conflicts within, fears without” I had stopped saying I was “hanging in there.” Instead, when people asked how I was, I answered, “God is hanging on to me.”
I wasn’t trying to be cute. I knew if I was okay at all, it was because God was holding all my broken pieces in His loving hand. I praised with heavy hands raised, songs rendered silent by an aching tight throat, lips moving with the fervency of my desire to cling to Jesus.
In Paul’s Macedonia time, he received a visitor bringing news: “But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus; and not only by his coming, but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you, as he reported to us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me; so that I rejoiced even more.”
(II Corinthians 7:5-7 NASB) Titus’s arrival didn’t rescue Paul. It didn’t solve his problems or keep his fears at bay. Paul just received news about people he loved. And he rejoiced.
Paul was looking for, and willing to receive, good from God. It didn’t come from a lifting of his afflictions, but from a comfort that ministered to his heart. He accepted that God didn’t change his circumstances, and still praised because God loved him.
In my Macedonia, when it seemed the crisis might never end, God ministered to my heart. He sent people to comfort me. News of friends came from far places to cheer me up. Small mercies loomed large.
When one set of dire circumstances was exchanged for another, Paul wrote from prison: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your forbearing spirit be known to all. The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4:4-5)
When I am in Macedonia, I live praise by making certain decisions:
- I will rejoice in the Lord.
- I will not let circumstances steal my joy.
- I will enjoy the people, provisions, and fun He gives.
- But I will hold these lightly while I cling to Jesus.
How do you keep praising in your figurative Macedonia?