This is a repost…from 10 years ago.
Everyone has a time in their life when they experience difficulty. It might be family or finance, it might be a relationship or regret. We know it by the emotional weight that lays on our hearts. Sometimes we see it coming and other times it takes us by surprise. We usually have no control on it and little ability to change the consequences. What we have power over is our reaction.
After 30 years of marriage, and 27 years of ministry I can tell you I’ve sat with, and talked with people in almost every difficult circumstance. The gambler, the adulterer, the runaway, the drug user, the drug dealer, the sick, the dying, the criminal, the victim, the lonely, the overwhelmed. Most of them felt out of control of their lives and were looking for relief. They wanted relief from the emotional weight more than anything else.
What strikes me over and over though is that despite the similarities the big difference is their reaction. Most chose misery, most chose to suffer in their own thoughts and reactions. But some, not very many, but a few decide that misery is optional. They might not be happy but in the midst of their difficult days they chose to live life with hope.
The only way I think this is possible is if they have a strong belief in God and His Hand of care.
1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
It was a good weekend in Winnipeg. We welcomed another crop of cadets who will now go on to be trained to be Salvation Army officers. They are at the beginning – us, well I feel increasingly like we’re near the autumn of our journey. Strange how that feeling overtakes you as you see friends retiring – or dying (too young) and you realize just how quickly the years are passing by. Now don’t take that as some somber statement. It’s not meant to be, it’s just that the contrasts do show up from time to time and I realize that there are people who are sitting on this platform who weren’t born when we started our SA journey.
Having said all that, I was really taken by the song we sang a few times over the past few days as we went from celebrating the new session to wrestling with the complex and challenging issues that we, as a denomination are facing. The words are strong and meaningful and unlike some of the trite stuff that makes up our singing (at times) this has song has a depth that is not unusual in Graham Kendrick’s songs. Listen and enjoy.
If The Salvation Army has a calling, it is to be the people who reach the poor….so God of the Poor just fits – don’t you think?