– by Joe Fornear
How would it feel to be called out in the Holy Bible because you weren’t getting along with another person? Euodia and Syntyche were so lucky. In Philippians 4:2, Paul pleads with them to find harmony. But what if, as is often the case in the Bible, their names reflected personality traits or symbols which led to their clashing? If so, and I think it is, there are intriguing underlying lessons here. Euodia means “pleasant journey.” Syntyche means “with destiny,” a name derived from Tyche, the Greek goddess of destiny or fate. Tyche was often blamed when life was confusing and spinning out of control. The Romans called this goddess, Fortunas, who spun her “Wheel of Fortune.” The TV game show plays upon this timeless concept – life can deliver setbacks or wonderful prizes, and we all would agree that hardship clashes with the pleasantness of life. Now Clement was asked to help the two get along (Philippians 4:3). Amazingly, his name means “calm.” So to merge the symbolism of the three names, serenity brings harmony between the good times and bad. During my battle with advanced Stage IV metastatic melanoma, serenity was hard to find. Joni Eareckson, now 64, has been in a wheel chair since 17 from a diving accident and she is now also battling cancer. She knows well the titanic clashes of our inner Euodia and Syntyche: “We want a God who supports our plans, who is our “accomplice”; someone to whom we can relate as long as he is doing what we want. If he does something else, we “unfriend” him.” So how do we maintain internal serenity and friendship with God in the midst of hard times? Three keys to serenity:
- Trust. There is no such thing as fate, nothing happens without the permission of the Sovereign Lord of the universe – see the Book of Job. And just as Job discovered that God had a good plan which He was working behind the scenes, we know He will work all things to the good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
- Wait. The Lord promises and demonstrates throughout the Bible that our suffering will also be short. As Paul says, compared to eternal glory, our trials are light and momentary (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).
- Depend. Even if we know the right responses – that we need to trust and wait – Jesus taught that without His strength and empowerment we can do nothing in our own strength (John 15:1-5). Paul added that the very same power that lifted Jesus from His grave can lift us up to supernaturally handle hard times (Ephesians 1:18-20).
Lord, we ask You to pour out Your power on us that we might rest in You no matter what happens.