Ten days ago (Friday) I drove north to collect No. 2 daughter from Northumbria University. The plan was to stay overnight at my parents, collect daughter the following day return to parents and after morning worship and lunch head home on the Saturday. “Best laid plans ….” and all that! Car breaks down and fix the following Monday doesn’t work. Tuesday hire car – none suitable available but company manage to find one – return home with daughter and chattels, etc. Wednesday work at WEST, Thursday drive north, collect own car again, fuller fix doesn’t work, return to parents, discuss buying new car at the garage they have used for 30 yrs, long phone call with my wife, check models available, etc., and agree what we want. Friday get to garage with old car (No problems), desired vehicle still there, test drive, v. happy, pt. exchange, new car MOT’d and serviced, drive home. Nothing particularly spectacular, but every stage over ruled by God and needed provision made – lesson we are never outside God’s gracious provision!
Generally in the west we don’t face persecution, but suffering can take other forms. Health is a particular issue especially where it impacts wives/husbands and children. Colleagues are particularly affected at the moment through the loss of babies in early pregnancy, caring for a young mum dying of cancer, and other health concerns. But this has never been exceptional, Jesus warned us that in this world we would have troubles, giving the lie to health, wealth and prosperity teaching. The key question is in coming through these things is our relationship with God through Christ any better? In the extremity of need do we like Abraham, believe God, even when it feels as if He is our enemy? Often the fruit of our experience does not appear until distance and time have given us perspective. As we go through the experience our only anchor is to hold to God’s declared and proved (Christ on the cross) love for us.