In troubled times, it is vital to remember that God is there; that God rules in the heavenly places and that God will bring all things to account on the Great Day of Judgement – indeed he brings events into judgement in the here and now if we will but see it.
In the uncertain context we face today, let us remember the words of King David who experienced the harsh trials of persecution for doing absolutely nothing wrong.
In Psalm 23 we read
THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD – I SHALL NOT WANT
HE MAKETH ME TO LIE DOWN IN GREEN PASTURES, HE LEADETH ME BESIDE THE STILL WATERS, HE RESTORETH MY SOUL
HE LEADETH ME IN THE PATHS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS FOR HIS NAME’S SAKE
YEA, THOU I WALK THROUGH THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH, I WILL FEAR NO EVIL, FOR THOU ART WITH ME, THY ROD AND THY STAFF THEY COMFORT ME
THOU PREPAREST A TABLE BEFORE ME IN THE PRESENCE OF MINE ENEMIES, THOU ANOINTEST MY HEAD WITH OIL, MY CUP RUNNETH OVER
SURELY GOODNESS AND MERCY SHALL FOLLOW ME ALL THE DAYS OF MY LIFE, AND I WILL DWELL IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD FOREVER !
The shepherd guards his sheep against all kinds of attack; the shepherd leads his sheep to good pasture to feed and grow; and as Jesus taught us in John chapter 10, the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. He promised the apostles he will never leave us, nor forsake us !
Jesus is always there, whatever our circumstances. His example at the cross is ever before us, as also the reward for our sacrifice to him when we obey his teaching in the face of hostility, hatred and adversity. The point is this. He bears us up; he carries us through the trials if only we will see that his grace within us will cause us to rise above all our circumstances. His strength is there to help us. Sometimes that will be to deliver us out of the circumstances which cause us pain; sometimes it will be to cause us to endure and overcome within those circumstances – enduring them, but knowing his overwhelming presence and grace to cause us to live through it and overcome the temptation to rebel against his message of love because times are really tough.
We are living in times which oblige us to find the reality of the message of the New Testament – to live out the grace of God within us by the power of the Holy Spirit. As the apostle Peter concludes his second encyclical letter:
GROW IN GRACE AND IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST