In Times of Trouble...

The past couple of weeks have not been easy. Pretty stressful in fact. Life is very, very, busy, and I haven't been feeling as though I've been coping very well - forgetting to do things I ought to have done, and not managing to find the time even for some of the basics. And my father (86) has been ill - so ill in fact, that we thought the end might be near; but thanks to antibiotics (and prayer!), he seems to be on the mend again.

I consider myself very blessed to have so many friends, both those with whom I share a common faith, and those I don't. Of those with whom I do share a faith, my house-group are particularly special. A house-group (or home-group, or cell-group), for the uninitiated, is a small group of Christians who meet regularly to pray, to worship, to study and to support one another, through good times and bad. The group I belong to are very good to me - they know that my role can be quite stressful; they are very gentle and supportive and demand nothing of me in return. This week, the leaders of our group, Nic and Em, had decided that we should have a 'meditative' evening - turn up quietly, in an attitude of prayer, and spend some time in quiet reflection.

During the evening, Joan readoutthe following - a prayer penned by Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890):

God knows me and calls me by my name.…
God has created me to do Him some definite service;
He has committed some work to me
which He has not committed to another.
I have my mission—I never may know it in this life,
but I shall be told it in the next.

Somehow I am necessary for His purposes…
I have a part in this great work;
I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection
between persons.
He has not created me for naught. I shall do good,
I shall do His work;
I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth
in my own place, while not intending it,
if I do but keep His commandments
and serve Him in my calling.

Therefore I will trust Him.
Whatever, wherever I am,
I can never be thrown away.
If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him;
In perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him;
If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him.
My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be
necessary causes of some great end,
which is quite beyond us.
He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life,
He may shorten it;
He knows what He is about.
He may take away my friends,
He may throw me among strangers,
He may make me feel desolate,
make my spirits sink, hide the future from me—
still He knows what He is about.…
Let me be Thy blind instrument. I ask not to see—
I ask not to know—I ask simply to be used.

Somehow, that 'hit the spot' - it seemed to sum up where I was at, in both parts of my life, spiritual and secular. And it showed me that God knows… He knows me. In the words of Psalm 139:1-3 (NIV):

You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

There is something peculiarly comforting about knowing that He knows, and understands. And also in knowing that, whatever happens, I belong to Him, and however I feel, He can still use me to do His good work. So I think I may have turned a corner. My spirit is at peace again. Now I am merely tired!

Copyright Phil Hendry, 2020