God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble – Psalm 46 v1
These comforting words assure us that God is there for us, whenever we are in need. Throughout the centuries, people have turned to the Psalms for comfort. When we are worried, they give us encouragement to get on with the task of living; yet, occasionally, we encounter a worry so deep or a grief so heavy that the solace we seek cannot be found, not even in the words of scripture.
When we experience such grief, we might read the Bible, and see only empty words. We might go to Church, and feel alone in the midst of the congregation. We might cry out for God, and be met with silence.
This prayer promises that God is our refuge and strength, a very present help when in trouble, drawing on words from Ps 46 v1; yet what about those times when our world is falling apart and it feels as if we are alone? We might feel God’s presence keenly when things are going well but, when a tragedy occurs and we cry out desperately, God can seem silent.
At the end of the Second World War, these words were found written by a Jew on a wall in Germany:
I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining,
I believe in love, even when I am alone,
I believe in God, even when he is silent.
In the midst of immense suffering, the woman or man who wrote these words held on to faith, even when it seemed that God had disappeared. Clinging on to our faith in the midst of despair can help to lead us to the place of quiet where we can once again sense God’s presence. God is found in the stillness.
Whatever we may face in our own lives, may those wonderful words from Ps 46 be true for each one of us.
I was given a book a few weeks ago entitled Rhymes by G A Studdert-Kennedy, and I’d like to share this one titled ‘Woodbine Willie’ with you:
They gave me this name like their nature,
compacted of laughter and tears,
a sweet that was torn of the bitter,
a joke that was torn from the years.
Of their travail and torture, Christ’s fools
atoning my sins with their blood,
who grinned in their agony sharing
the glorious madness of God.
Their name! let me hear it – the symbol
of unpaid – unpayable debt,
for the men to whom I owed God’s peace,
I put off with a cigarette.
‘Woodbine Willie’ was the nickname given to the famous Army Padre from World War 1.
May God bless you all.
(The Rev Canon Ian Greenhalgh)
(Contact details: Email: email@example.com Tel: 015242 51313
Bishop Nick with confirmation candidates on 29 September
The Lippy Logic Show 28 September in Eldroth – performed to a packed house by our very own Veronica and Christine. A great evening enjoyed by all: