Thursday, 19 February 2015

Renewal Promised!

The other day I passed a flowerbed at Milngavie Town Hall.  It has been prepared by Milngavie In Bloom and has a notice that says: ‘Please keep off the garden.  Tulips and daffodils are planted and will soon be appearing.’  It was a cold day, cloudy, and threatening rain so to see that promise was really quite heartening.  To know that very soon there would be a display of life and colour.  Amazing too to think that a promise like that could be made, that we can have faith in the cycle of the seasons and the renewing power of creation. 

Perhaps we do not go in for Lent to the same extent as other Christian traditions but there can never be any harm in reminding ourselves that often the life of faith can be challenging and demanding of all our resources.  We may not be in the position of many Christians in the Middle East and some parts of Africa who are daily in fear of their lives but there are times when we have difficulty making sense of dark and difficult experiences that have fallen to us.

In this we are in good company.  The apostle Paul once wrote that life can sometimes be like seeing ‘a poor reflection in a mirror’, hard to work out.  But Paul was in the grip of a promise that God’s renewing purpose would never be denied by the worst of circumstances.   Some of his most challenging words are in 2 Corinthians 4: 16-17:

‘Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.’

I have often thought about these words and their implications for believers.  We are being invited to see our ‘troubles’ from the perspective of eternity, a time beyond this life when we will see that no matter what was happening to us and how badly we were troubled, God was still working in our lives to take forward his good purpose for us.  The key to Paul’s faith was that quite simply he knew his God.  He once wrote: ‘I know whom I have believed.’   He was convinced that the God ‘who did not spare his own Son for us all’ had nothing but a good and loving purpose in the lives of those he loved.    

My hope for these weeks leading to Easter is that as a people we will know our God better through our reflection on His promises which alone can sustain us through the challenges that fall to us.