Tag Archives: uncertainty

When disaster strikes

(Sorry, behind with this after a holiday!)

for a comment on Lent 3c gospel, see this page

“No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.”
(1 Cor 10:13, part of 1 Cor 10:1-13, epistle for Lent 3c)

There is always some disaster in the news, and it seldom involves us directly. Yet when we do suffer, some react as if no misfortune should ever happen to anyone – and that is ridiculous. Of course we take precautions and try to avoid disaster, but life will always be uncertain and changeable. Some texts have little impact until circumstances change, and then we hear them in a new way. This is one

“No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.”
(1 Cor 10:13)

An important text for anyone whose world falls apart, in any of the many possible ways, of which bad health is a common cause. What do we do about it? I’d like to repeat some of the obvious things:

It may be nobody’s fault – but do ask if that is true. If disaster overtakes you, take the opportunity to review – not just “Was it my fault?” but what was your life all about, and how does that match up with your Christian faith? If there are issues, then repent and confess them, so that they can be cleared away. That doesn’t guarantee cure or solution, but it will save you carrying guilt and remorse.

Do what you can, and not what you can’t. Recognise the limits on what you can do. Christian faith is not about denying the real limits of frail health or convalescence. It does not offer “magic” ways of avoiding pain, hard work, or the impatience associated with slow recovery. These things, however, can have a positive effect on faith, if people learn to live within limitations, to listen more, to be less concerned about “looking good” and “working hard”, and think more about God’s priorities.

Don’t stop practising faith. You still need worship, and prayer, and the support of fellowship, and teaching. In fact, these things become more important. You may not “feel like it” – but you need it! You may have to adapt; even to ask for help – lifts, handing over jobs, seeing other people take your place.

Pray – and not just to go back to things as they used to be!. Take away my illness? Sometimes God does that, but more often he heals in other ways –

  • it may be that he will heal the things that make illness difficult: impatience, pride, the need to “do” or “lead” or “succeed”
  • it may be that through illness you will find yourself more alert to other people, and better able to serve them
  • it may be that he will change your perspectives on life, and your ambitions
  • it may be that he will change your relationships with other people
  • it may be that you will learn to trust when you do not understand

– and I am sure there are other things.

“No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.”
(1 Cor 10:13)

If your life is good and easy, then rejoice! – and don’t feel guilty about it. Just remember that it may change, but never beyond your capacity. If some sort of disaster does strike, you should know how to start dealing with it, and how to find help if it proves serious.

The Kingdom in Difficult Times

How do we live in difficult times?   It rather depends on the difficulty: physical (earthquakes, tsunami, disasters) social (violence, unrest, political confusion), or personal (all sorts of things can throw us – bereavement, job/family/local issues).  Any or all of these can be uncomfortable, and bring a temptation to keep our heads down, go with the crowd . . .

But that is not our Christian calling, and today’s gospel (Matthew 24:1-14) comes from a time of trouble.  What is it saying?

  • the First thing is the readiness to be different Mt 24:4 – don’t be deceived,even by false prophets (24:11). We need to know our faith well enough not to be mislead. Then we may have to stand out from the crowd.
  • If the 1st thing is to be ready to be different, the 2nd is not to be surprised – and don’t be panicked. The point of the warning – and there is a good deal of language like this in the gospels, there as a warning – is just so that we expect it, and are able to say “They said it would be like this”. Don’t worry about it, but do read and remember. Things won’t always be terrible – but when they are, . .
  • And hold on (Mt 24:13,14) Paul says something similar to the Thessalonians in another of today’s readings (1 Thessalonians 2:9-13). Don’t keep your head down, but up – looking to God, and “live the kind of life that pleases God, who calls you to share in his own Kingdom and glory” – a good line!

The Kingdom season reminds us that God’s rule is not yet unchallenged here. We can look forward to a time when it will be, but in the meantime:

be ready to be different

don’t be surprised

hold on, and live well for God.