AS I write, it is a beautifully, sunny autumnal day and, all around, there are glimpses of God’s glory.
Harvested fields, trees laden with reddened and golden fruit, birds in full cry with morning and evening song, awe-inspiring sunrises and sunsets.
At the same time, there is chronic unemployment, there are young couples unable to raise a deposit for their first home, possibly there is someone you know terminally ill, the newspapers report a young child abducted and a middle-aged person suddenly dying, soldiers losing their lives in Afghanistan.
This latter view is as real as the former, isn’t it? And through it all we have to cope with happiness and sadness, peace and war, good health and illness, life and death.
But we are not alone.
I believe God gives us strength and grace and peace of mind and heart to cope with everything, as we turn to Him: no, we are not alone.
Seventeen years ago tomorrow – October 25, 1995 – in Edinburgh, a great Minister friend of our family died. He was better known by his initials RSW and in encouraging people, especially young people, to be strong in facing up to the many hurdles we all have to deal with.
He often quoted the following lines: “Do not pray for easy lives, pray to be stronger. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle.”
Relatively near his manse, there lived, many years before, one of the most famous literary Scots, who also was very often known by his initials RLS (you can actually visit his house in Heriot Row, Edinburgh).
Interestingly, both had attended the same school and RSW often enjoyed quoting RLS when he preached or wrote books.
Among the many writings of RLS, the following stands out and I think can be a real help; perhaps you’d agree?
“Lord, behold us here assembled. We thank Thee for this place in which we dwell; for the love that unites us; for the peace accorded us this day; for the hope with which we expect the morrow; for the health, the work, the food and the bright skies that make our lives delightful; for our friends in all parts of the earth.
“Let peace abound in our community. Purge out of every heart the lurking grudge. Give us grace and strength to forbear and to persevere.
“Offenders, give us the grace to forgive offenders. Forgetful ourselves, help us to bear cheerfully the forgetfulness of others. Give us courage and gaiety and the quiet mind. We ask this for Christ’s sake. Amen.”
In thinking about coping with difficulties and dangers, with love and laughter in the great mystery of life, as we encounter compassion, generosity of spirit, war and peace, illness and bereavement, joy and hope, let us reflect on the real presence of Our Lord, who always is with us.
For as the Acts of the Apostles says: “In Him we live, move and have our being.”
Ronald Selby Wright (June 12, 1908 - October 25, 1995) and Robert Louis Stevenson (November 13, 1850 - December 3, 1894) would most certainly echo words which might be heard from the football crowds of the Liverpool Kop and also, of course, from the pages of the Bible.
No, we are most certainly not alone!
The Rev John Murdoch writes in the East Fife Mail