The weather forecast said rain…..

But it was wrong!

This morning, the skies looked overcast and grey, and the weather forecast said it would rain. It didn’t look like a day for going out. However, I really felt like some fresh air, so putting on a big rainproof coat and boots, I ventured out, expecting the worst.

The thing was, as I started up a modest hill, all of a sudden the sun started to come out from between the clouds. The colours of the landscape around looked as if they were on fire, with yellows and oranges. And the deep indigo sky reflected in the water, and everything was gorgeous. It was such a clear and awesome view, made the more precious by being completely unexpected. It was a gift!

How often are we put off from doing something, because we are advised it is not a good idea, or it will be too hard, or it is just not possible. However listening to the negativity or advice of others is not always a good idea. It is worth listening to people’s insights, but we always need to ask the Holy spirit to guide us, and help us discern what to do. Sometimes it is worth venturing out, even when it looks like it might rain! There might be amazing experiences that we will miss if we stay in.

There is a weariness and cynicism around in the world, that can weigh us down, and make us question if it is worth bothering. But when we look to Jesus’ example, he persevered and kept on loving, even when he faced misunderstanding, opposition and even death. Through the cross, Love overcame all things.

I believe that it is important to keep venturing out, even when we do not know what we might face. In Romans 5, Paul writes about how suffering produces patient endurance, which brings character and hope. Even when things go wrong, God can help us learn things which might help another soul.

Galatians 6: 9 is also a timely reminder ‘ let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the right time, we will reap, if we do not give in.” A song from JJ Heller ‘Don’t give up too soon’ is a gentle reminder of this theme, and worth listening to.

There might be grey days, when we need to stay in and rest. There are days to go forward however, and to keep going, and not give up. For who knows what we will find, if we just keep taking the next step.

Eternal Father, You are the Creator of all things, and just being in Your Creation is such a blessing and inspiration, in all weathers. Lord Jesus, I confess sometimes I am easily put off, or discouraged from a new venture or project, because I am scared of all that might go wrong. Yet You set your face to Jerusalem, even though you faced opposition, as it was the only way to fulfil your purpose. Holy spirit, help us all to discern what to do, and when. Help us not give up too soon, but through prayer and encouragement, to persevere on our journey, Amen.

Anger and advocacy!

Let’s be angry!

At times in today’s world, the danger is that we can feel a little numb, a little detached. Sometimes however, we can allow ourselves to feel- to hear another person’s story, and in our imagination to feel we are going through it with them, and to identify with their emotions. It could be listening to the person on the train, or a magazine article, some words from the family next door, or a person on the other side of the globe.

Some stories are about people who have overcome, who are settled and at peace, and we are thankful for these. Other people are in such pain and weariness, that it can be hard to listen. Just now, there seem to be so many stories of terror and loss-

The family in which some one has a disability, and whose support services have been cut because of the pandemic, people who have become more isolated and lost skills and confidence.

The prisoners, languishing in prison, although they have done nothing wrong – people like the Chinese Christian Gao Zhisheng, whose work as a human rights lawyer has resulted in him disappearing in 2017, and he has not been seen since.

And we think of the terrified in Afghanistan, as the Taliban reassert control, the cries of the vulnerable, of women and children fleeing from.rhe brutality and lawlessness of their rule.

How do we respond to these heartbreaking situations. Well maybe, just maybe, we should be angry! We should be angry that people with disabilities and mental health issues seem to be at the bottom of the pile in our society. We should be indignant that human rights lawyers, who courageously speak out for others, can disappear with so many people turning a blind eye. We should be furious that in so many lands, the rights of women and children are non existent.

To be healthy, we cannot focus on all these issues all the time. However to pretend they are not happening, is not the answer either.

As we listen to the cries of these individuals, we should be angry that they suffer so much, and so many do so little. But hopefully it is not the kind of anger that breaks dishes, but rather the kind of anger that we ask God to channel into a constructive energy for advocacy and action.

In Ephesians chapter 4 verse 26, it says: ” in your anger, do not sin.” We are allowed to be angry- it is what we do with it that matters. Jesus Himself was angry- about the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, or the greed of the money changers in the temple. So he spoke out against that which was wrong.

In Proverbs 31:8-9 it says: ‘ Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute’. Part of our calling as Christians, as human beings, is to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, or those who are not being listened to.

When we are touched by what has happened to some one, and have become indignant, whether it is the plight of the homeless, the story of the woman who has been human trafficked, or the lonely person in a hospital bed, may we channel these feelings of sadness and frustration into something good, to lobby for funding, for advocacy, for change. It might only be the words of a prayer, or writing to our MP, or giving to a charity, but every little helps.

Gracious God, we remember the roar of Aslan in C S Lewis’s novels, conveying the power and majesty of God. You are the God of justice, and You long for justice and fairness. Yet on this earth so many suffer- trauma, ill treatment, sexual exploitation and brutality. Forgive us for the times we turn away. Lord Jesus, help us be angry when another human being is treated without dignity or respect. And may your holy spirit helps us channel that anger wisely, to pray, to give, to be advocates for those on trouble. Give us energy to do this, and to be courageous in seeking to make this a more just world, Amen.