Weekly Reflection (10th August 2020)
A very good morning to you. A very warm welcome to you whether you are joining us for the first time or has been with us for some time now.
For those us in Melbourne, we had a true wintry week of cold, wind and rain. This is the wonderful Melbourne weather that most of us have an additive love-hate relationship with.
May I invite you to join in Archbishop’s Freier’s invitation to light a candle each night at 8 pm and place it into a window of your home where no fire risk exists as a sign of hope in the Covid-19-curfew across greater Melbourne.
Dr Freier said: “For Christians, lighting a candle is a symbol of God’s light piercing into the darkness of our own despair. It’s our saying that God’s hope is the power that motivates us as we continue to endure these limitations and experience the sacrifice of this time.”
As you light your candle, you may also want to pray for yourself, your loved ones and your community. Our Cathedral has created a webpage with shared social media resources, prayers and simple liturgy written by our Dean.[i]
You are invited to post an image of your candle along with the #CandlesAtCurfew hashtag on your social media as you share your thoughts with others. Above all: pray with us for a swift end to the curfew in our state of Victoria.
Let us pray:
O loving Lord, draw near to us as we draw near to you. Open our ears to hear thy voice; open our eyes to behold thy glory; open our minds to understand thy truth; open our hearts to receive thy grace; open our lips to praise thee Father, Son and Holy Spirit; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Saviour Amen.
The Prayer of the Day
Tenth Sunday After Pentecost
Mighty God and ruler of all creation, give new strength to our faith, that we may recognise your presence even when all hope seems lost. Help us to face all trials with serenity as we walk with Christ through the stormy seas of life and come at last to your eternal peace. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.
4 Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.
5 Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.
Overcoming the Challenges of Life
Life constantly throws at us challenges, problems and obstacles. Sometimes, no sooner have we resolved one problem, another pops up. This is life. This may describe what you are going through during this tough time of Pandemic lockdown. These six months has been a constant barrage of challenges, problems and obstacles.
The danger is to see these as preventing us from living out the life God has intended for us. In actual fact, overcoming challenges is part of living for God.
The Bible is true to life. King David, the author of Psalm 40, lays bare his joys, hurt, hatred, pain and distress of life.
As I read today’s passage, I am reminded that the difficulties I face are relatively minor and nothing compared to what the people of God have faced in the past – and still face around the world today.
King David has three encouragements for us when facing the challenges of life.
1. Talk to God about the problems
Are you in a difficult situation today? Are you in a time of testing? Do you face challenges that seem insurmountable?
When times are hard and the days tough, you do not have to face life on your own. Remember you are not alone. Whatever situations or difficulties you may face, you can bring them to God in prayer.
The psalmist finds himself not only in a pit – but on miry clay and sinking fast. He said that he cried out to the Lord and God heard his cry.
We have the same God who promised never to leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in.
Peter in 1 Peter 5:7 encourages us to cast all our anxiety on God because he cares for us.
Jesus extended the same invitation when he said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-29)
God sometimes allows us go through difficult and painful time to mould us. He wants to test us and shape us to be a more effective vessel of His – to be used for His glory. When he does that, he also gives us the ability and strength to endure what we are going through. Come, talk to him about your difficulties and issues that you are facing today.
2. Trust that God is in control
King David started off this Psalm by saying that he waited patiently for the LORD. He actually said that he waited in his waiting – which means that he was focused on the LORD in his waiting. We know that he was talking to God for he said, the LORD turned to me and heard my cry.
This shows that he had faith in his God. Faith means trusting God. ‘Faith’, as C.S. Lewis wrote, “is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.”[ii] It means to trust God when everything seems not to be working out.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:1,6)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Towards the end of his life, St. Paul, the great leader of the church, energetic missionary and passionate teacher was imprisoned for his faith.
This must have been an extraordinarily frustrating and difficult and with little hope of reprieve. Yet, he was able to write, ‘We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose’ (Romans 8:28).
From prison, Paul wrote most of his epistles that forms a large part of the New Testament which countless Christians has benefitted from through these 2,000 years. I suspect that Paul would have been astonished in the midst of all these difficulties to know how much good was going to come of them. You may never know, in this life, how God will use your faithfulness in the face of challenges.
3. Give thanks to God for His love
The most natural reaction to troubles in life is to worry, fret and grumble – because see only the troubles and not the hand of our loving Father in our lives.
Paul in his earliest epistles was encouraging the young Thessalonian Church which was suffering greatly under persecution. He said “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” [iii]
Paul was teaching them to see God’s love through all the difficulties they face. He said give thanks in all circumstances not for all circumstances.
In whatever situation you find yourself in, you can give thanks because God’s love never leaves you. That is why this verse is preceded by his two commands to Rejoice always and pray continually.[iv]
Paul explains this though further in Philippians when he said “ Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”[v]
When we learn to rejoice, pray and give thanks in the midst of the difficulties of life, you discover and experience the hand and love of God supporting and empowering you to overcome life’s difficulties.
Whatever challenges you’re facing today, keep praying, keep trusting, giving thanks and never, ever give up!
Let Us Pray…
Lord, as I face my daily challenges and problems in life, give me a determination not to give up but to persevere and carry through to the end. Thank you that you are my daily strength and joy. Thank you for hearing my prayer. Amen.
The Morning Collect
Eternal God and Father, by whose power we are created and by whose love we are redeemed: guide and strengthen us by your Spirit, that we may give ourselves to your service, and live this day in love to one another and to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. May we rekindle the gift of God within us.
Thank you again for sharing your time with me. Have a wonderful and blessed week learning through his grace to overcome the challenges life possess you. Goodbye and till we meet again here next Monday. God bless you.
[ii] C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1952; Harper Collins: 2001) 140-141.
[iii] 1 Thessalonians 5:18
[iv] 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17
[v] Philippians 4:4-7