Thursday, 15 November 2018

God gives us faith in difficult times

THERE’S an old expression: “May you live in interesting times.” Sounds like a blessing, doesn’t it? And yet it’s something that might be said to an enemy. Especially if for “interesting”, you read “tumultuous” and “turbulent”.

Often our lives can seem this way. Whether it’s stress, illness, disappointment, or the death of a loved one, we all go through times when it seems that life is throwing things at us faster than we can cope.

This sense of unrest can also confront us head-on when we consider the issues facing us as a nation (and indeed humanity as a whole!): political uncertainty, economic anxiety, and environmental change – to name just three.

In the midst of all of this, we can turn to the pages of the Bible for wisdom and guidance. Here we find thoughts and expressions that can give voice to the way we often feel, as in Psalm 82: “All the foundations of the earth are out of course.”

It’s also in the scriptures that we will read of the assurance of God’s love, especially in periods of personal and communal anxiety. As the prophet Jeremiah put it, in the context of the promised return of the exiles from Babylon to the land of Israel more than 500 years before Christ: “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jeremiah 29.11, NRSV).

The challenge for us is just that: to have faith in a future with hope. It’s not that the response of faith is like the ostrich sticking its head in the sand, or a sort of whistling in the dark. Rather, when we know we are loved by God, absolutely and ultimately, we can find the courage to navigate the choppy waters of change.

We may not feel like we have much of a choice when it comes to the times we live in, as individuals and as a community. But in the pages of the Bible we can be reassured that whatever we go through, God is there with us.

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