A convergence of sorrow and love.

Light and shade

In life sometimes there can be the juxtaposition of too many sorrows. The loss of a loved one, of a job, of a dream, all coming at the same time. There are so many things that can cause people to mourn, not just our personal circumstances, but the loss of certainty, a wailing over injustice, a deep sorrow at the state of the world. In this time of pandemic, turbulent international politics and horrendous poverty and injustice, we have so many reasons for sorrow.

Walking in the valley of the shadow can be scary and lonely. There are so many dark places on the path, which are unexpected and unnerving. Yet it is when we are under pressure, that we call out to our Saviour, when we find out what it means to have him walk beside us on that path.

One of my favourite verses is from Isaiah chapter 43: ‘ I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places’. I often ponder what this means, but it seems to be that it is only when everything goes wrong, and you feel overwhelmed, that the beauty of Jesus’s presence can be truly felt and appreciated. Somehow it is only through being in the darkness, that we find out who we really are, and the discover the blessing of God’s grace to us. For He never turns His back on us, and when we are weak, He holds us up, and encourages us each step of the way.

And do there is a convergence of sorrow and love, for it us only in the deepest despair, that we experience the tender and transformative love of God, His Holy spirit refining our characters, so the dross is burned away, and only the gold comes forth. We are changed forever, with such an overwhelming waterfall of love flowing over us, that we are cleansed and strengthened and inspired.

The cross points to this deep truth, because in this place of human cruelty and barbarism and pain, Jesus lived out the love of God, revealing concern for his followers, forgiveness for the sinner, and a trust that he could commit his spirit to His heavenly Father. The cross is the most powerful and moving expression of love, because it is when Jesus is desolate and separated from his heavenly father, we see the extent of his self giving love for all.

This encourages our hearts, for when we are burdened looking after a loved one who is chronically unwell, or when we are struggling with pain and ill health, and life seems colourless and drab, that is when Christ’s presence gives us new strength, when we feel appreciation of a random act of kindness, when we are gently drawn into an experience of love that defies all description. In the darkest moment, God can bring a revelation of His grace, which whispers to our souls a word of peace.

I feel really thankful, that even in my worst days, God was there. Even when it seemed no- one understood, God listened. Even when all seemed lost, God was faithful. We are so blessed.

I remember the words of that great hymn ‘ when I survey the wondrous cross’ and the third verse says this: ‘ see from his head, his hands, his feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down; did e’er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?’

May we pray, Gracious God, we give thanks that even on the most drab and empty days, in the midst of our unmittigating sorrow, You reveal to us the depth of Your love in Christ, that convergence of sorrow and love on the cross, and you meet with us, and through your holy spirit breathe new strength and life into our souls. Your amazing love demands all we have, gladly given in love and service,and so we declare our love and devotion for You anew, Amen.

Sky- bringing a change of perspective!

A stunning and ever-changing expanse above.

In recent days, I have been visiting Skye, and noticed the soothing rhythm of the tides, the desolation of the mountainous landscape inspiring courage, and now the ethereal beauty of the light evoking reverence. The skies here are more than awesome! ( skies on Skye seems to be a bit of play on words!)

The light on the Cuillin mountains has often been dramatic, with shades of dark and black and grey. The sea bays are adorned with purple heather and yellow seaweed. And the seas reflect the colour of the skies- from dark and moody to brilliant cobalt blue, with every combination of cloud formation drifting across the top in different layers. You can be mesmerised just watching the sky change, moment by moment.

In psalm 19 it says:

‘The heavens proclaim the glory of God, the skies display His craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak, night after night, they make Him known. They speak without sound or word, their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the earth.’ NLT version

The poet Gerald Manley Hopkins says ‘ the earth is charged with the grandeur of God.’ and there is this sense of God’s majesty and creativity being revealed through His creation.

After the confinement of lockdown, and the trauma of individual stories and difficult experiences, to see the expansive sky above, opens up our horizons, and refreshes our soul. The intricate patterns of deep colours and cloud formations inspires us to look up, to be reminded that there is so much more to life than day to day practicalities. The beauty of the sky can take our breath away, can fill us with reverent thanksgiving for all tbat is good, can remind us that God is the original and most imaginative Artist ever !

If we are worn down by cares and worries, if our life can feel a little grey, may we be inspired to look up, and be reminded of the power and glory of God, and may this give us hope.

Let us pray, Eternal Father, Your Creation is magnificent, whether it is the vibrancy of stars in a jet black night, or white fluffy clouds on a bright blue morning. Lord Jesus, slow us down, and open our eyes wide, so we might notice your glory, and gain a new reverence for life. Holy spirit, grant us a new perspective on our priorities and opportunities, and encourage us to be more creative in how we live each day, to relish colour and form and light. In Jesus’ name, Amen