Sun November 18th, 2018
John got home from dropping his daughter off at the airport to the news that her flight Pan Am 103 had been blown out of the sky above Lockerbie.
A friend was falsely accused of being the Yorkshire Ripper and went through the horror of police interrogation and detention.
The administrators were waiting for me at the shop one morning to take my keys and tell me that the firm had gone into liquidation – no more job!
My son was diagnosed with cancer when he was 4 ½ and given 3 weeks to live; he died almost 3 years later.
I sat next to my unconscious wife in our bed on Christmas morning 2014 waiting for the Doctor who gave me lots of pain killers for her and told me that she would be better off at home now…(after a few weeks a lot of prayer and a little surgery she was restored).
What do we do when it all ‘hits the fan’, when war breaks out in our lives and we are injured in some way or other.
Godfrey Birtill wrote: There’s a lot of pain, but a lot more healing in his song “Outrageous grace”.
How do we get to the point where we can sing this when we are in a lot of pain? How do we connect with this outrageous grace? Can there possibly be more healing than we have pain?
Paul promises that God will be our comfort when we are afflicted. He also says that we will be able to regurgitate that comfort later for others.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 2 Cor 1:3–5
But it is alright saying this – how do we activate this promise? The fact is there is work for us to do to receive this – nothing is automatic! It saddens me that some people blame God that he hasn’t done anything to help them in their time of need but that is simply because that he expects us to approach him.
So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help. Heb 4:16 Message
So we need to take hold of God’s mercy and receive his help, and that comes out or relationship.
If you have never realized that Christianity is a relationship and not a religion, then I would suggest to you that you aren’t yet a Christian? The fact is that God wants to walk with us every day – if we aren’t walking with him it is hard to access his comfort. Like the BMW driver who was lost in the countryside and stopped when he saw a man swinging on a gate to get directions, “How do I get to Ipswich from here? he cried. The guy answered the driver “If I was going to Ipswich I wouldn’t set off from here”. We can only start from where we are: I suppose it is hard to start a relationship when you are in the middle of trouble, but there again, there is no better time to call on the name of the Lord.
Talking to God is the key to relationship – spending time with Him and waiting to let Him speak back to you. When it all goes wrong, the key is to immediately call him. I was once managing a store when a man swung his fist at my face. Just as he was making impact with my nose. I cried out one word of prayer “Jesus!” The guy fell over on the floor with minor injuries and I didn’t even have a bruise. (You should have seen the faces on my staff!)
The key is to call his name and to trust him. Trust is difficult when things aren’t going our way, but there again no one said they would! The New Testament is full of warnings about affliction, trouble and persecution and no mention of Mercedes, Rolex or Porsche. In life things do go wrong, but if we pray and trust then the God of all comfort draws near.
Healings? Yes, I believe in healings. Miracles? Yes, I believe in miracles. There is no healing though without sickness, there is no miracle without difficulty or trauma. What we often want is not God, but a Fairy-Godmother, someone who will waive their wand and make it all go away, but what is on offer is a God who will walk through the trial with you.
When you walk with God through trouble and come out of the other side it helps build trust inside you – because you have been there, bought the tee shirt and God hasn’t let you down.
Words of comfort from the scriptures always come back to you in times of difficulty (assuming you read them in the first place). The scriptures can be an amazing source of encouragement and comfort. Just knowing God is there is the great truth of Matthew 28:20.
How do we help others? Well, being there for them is the greatest act of friendship you can offer. Sometimes we don’t know what to say – so say nothing! Just hold a hand, make a cup of tea, take them food, listen to them, love them!
Having a prepared statement to say to people at their moment of lowest ebb, helps no one; being there to lean on and a supporting arm counts a lot.
What do we do when the worst happens? - Keep our cool and hold onto God. Don’t panic, just trust. Know that the great heroes of the faith have gone this way before, that millions of Christ’s followers have been butchered for their faith and that many others have faced pain or affliction in the silence of the night.
Like others you may feel pain, but the healer is passing your way and if we call his name he will hear us and we will have an unforgettable encounter with the divine.