As we enter another phase of covid lockdown measures we are, all of us, venturing into new, uncharted territory. None of us knows what will happen in the next few weeks or months and for some this is a potential source of anxiety or stress.
While I was dusting last week, ( rarity in our household), I came across the card which Graham received 17 years ago from his sister, at the time of his diagnosis of hairy cell leukaemia. We had a diagnosis but no real idea what HCL was or what the treatment might be, no idea what the future might hold. The front of the card is a quotation taken from a poem entitled ‘God knows’ by Minnie Louise Haskins.
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
The back of the card tells us that King George VI used these words for his Christmas broadcast in 1939. (Full poem on page 5.)
Our country is facing very uncertain times at this moment. Very different of course from 1939 as our ‘war’ is not against a human enemy but against a virus but I think that these words are very relevant because the future is not just unknown but also uncertain and for many there is only darkness out there, only darkness ahead. These words remind us that however uncertain the times are, we can trust God to strengthen and sustain us throughout anything and everything that happens. We are not immune from challenges and difficulties, just because we trust in God, and I know that I really need to remind myself constantly that I can face them and go through them with confidence if I rely, not on human strength but on God’s strength and power. You might need the same reminder that he is our anchor, our fortress, our rock. Totally dependable and all powerful.
The other side of the coin is opportunities: with God, every challenge is also an opportunity. I’m sure each of us has had our challenges, small or large, over these last few months yet when I chat to people I discover that many of them have had opportunities to show God’s love or to share their faith and have been surprised with the joy it has given them to do so. It’s really encouraging!
We don’t know what is going to happen in the next few months but we do know that in the present God knows everything that is troubling our hearts and minds and he is currently lovingly restoring us, like masterpieces, so that we can live according to his original design, sharing the wonders of his love with others.
This means that in the future we will be a completely restored masterpiece! When we are called into God’s presence on our final day or rather our first day in the new life, we will come ‘with great joy into his glorious presence, without a single fault.’ (Jude 24)
So we know enough about our present circumstances and our future circumstances to be confident and trust totally in God for them both. When we thank God for his faithfulness to us in the past, when we rejoice in all that he has already done for us, this enables us to look to the future with confidence and joy and thanksgiving for all he will be doing in and through us as we travel his path.
Our daily reading this morning ended with a very short prayer:
Lord may I look at the past with thanksgiving, at the present with faith and at the future with hope.
May the Lord bless you abundantly with joy, peace and hope,
Your sister in Christ,