Through the prophet Isaiah, God spoke these words…
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour. (Isaiah 43)
In recent months I have been very aware that many in our church family have been suffering in various ways, it seems to be a particularly heavy time with much illness and other difficulties. I have the privilege of serving you and therefore of knowing many of the things you are going through. I also see the ways you care for one another and uphold each other in times of need. A church family is just that, a group of people intimately connected to one another in Christ, who journey together through the joys and the sorrows of life.
Times of hardship and ill health force us to rely on each other more. That’s not a bad thing. We are not made to live in isolation from each other – we are made to be part of a family. That’s why we pray for each other, encourage each other and serve each other when we are in need.
That’s why it’s so important to be connected with a housegroup or social group within the church. Our Sunday morning gatherings are great but can’t provide for all our spiritual needs.
Being a Christian is no guarantee of a healthy or even a happy life. But it does offer consolation in times of sorrow, hope in the face of despair.
During a time when our whole nation is going through hardship – with the Brexit crisis causing division on a scale we have never seen before, the church can serve as a beacon of hope in dark times. We don’t claim to be perfect but we do claim to be a community of grace, reconciliation and love. And the UK could do with a bit more of that at the moment.
It’s been said that ‘Christ came to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable’. People are searching for meaning in a time when politics is proving that it doesn’t have the answers. Whether it’s personal pain or a time of national fracturing, Jesus is still disturbing the comfortable and offering comfort to those who are troubled. May you know his presence as you go through the waters and the fires of life.