Be Strong and Courageous

It has been a long ....  time since my last blog, for which I feel quite guilty (not condemned, just a touch of true guilt!) … so, as is the correct response to true guilt, I will get down to doing something about this.

The news over the last few days as the probable cause of the tragedy in Germany is being revealed has restarted a thought process which began at the start of the year. Sadly in the first six weeks of 2015 I attended three funerals, two of which were the result of friends taking their own lives. The desperation which these two young men must have felt still bewilders me, and draws me back to holding on tighter to our Lord, Saviour and deliverer. Life would be so much easier if things worked out in the way they do in the movies. But often they don’t.

I was reminded recently that Psalm 31 reflects real life, not some movie, TV show or Reality TV, but real, heart breaking life. In verse 10, David prays, considering that his life is being shortened because of grief. Perception of the world around is often changed by grief. I guess that many of the bereaved from the air disaster this week would echo the sentiments of the Psalmist here. If ever you've had difficulty in identifying with the "happy, happy, joy, joy, always happy" version of Christian faith then this Psalm is for you and me. I guess working in Prisons we are more immune to this than most, but David reminds us, as you he often does in the psalter of the value of facing reality, and still looking in hope for His help. (v17) The Psalms never overlook the darker side of life. Instead of pretending that difficulties never arise when you are following God, the Psalms show that sometimes even those "after God's heart" cry out in anguish. Life doesn't always work out with the underdog winning, the hero being loved or the bad person getting what they deserve. Holy week reminds us of this, Jesus knows this, the Psalmist knows this. As we enter this week of what can often be sombre reflection leading up to Good Friday, let us echo David as he prays;

 “But I am trusting you, O LORD, saying, "you are my God!" My future is in your hands. Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly. Let you favour shine on your servant. In your unfailing love, rescue me." (vv14-16) (NLT)

Such a beautiful prayer from one who was wasting away in sorrow. Such trust. Such faith. Our hope is that even when life turns dark and things seem to go from bad to worse we will still be able to trust our future and our pain to God. He can take and understand it, He is able. He is love. He will see us through. “so be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord!” (v24)

Best wishes for the Easter period … May you know Jesus’ blessings deeply this year