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Romans 8:28 – hurtful platitude or hopeful comfort?

You’ve just received some devastating news, unlike any you’ve ever received before. It feels as if you’ve been struck a massive blow, and you’re reeling with pain and confusion. Life, as you’ve known it, will never be the same again. While you are in the depths of your anguish, a well-meaning acquaintance sends a text, seeking to comfort you in whatever way he or she can. They quote the following verse –

We know that all things work together for good to them that love God… (Romans 8:28)

As you read the words, what is your reaction? Are they like a soothing balm to a wound? Or do they sting worse than salt?


The danger of rose-tinted spectacles

I’d be happy if only 

…I could meet up with my friends for coffee.

…the children were back at school.

…I could hop on a plane and have a sunshine holiday.

…my work was back to normal.

…we didn’t have to worry about masks and social distancing.

Covid-19 really has messed life up, hasn’t it? While some have suffered big, life-changing losses, most of us have simply been worn down by the accumulation of minor disruptions to everyday life. The benefits of living a less-frantic lifestyle, which we clung to in the early days of the pandemic, have become threadbare and worn out. No matter how much we’ve tried to adjust and embrace the changes, there are things we are all longing to return to.


2020 – A Year for Removing the Dregs

From t-shirts declaring I survived 2020 to sentiments on social media which express, in palpable relief, that the end is in sight, it’s clear that, for most people at least, this hasn’t been a year that we’d like to repeat. Why? Because a new virus appeared out of the blue and disrupted our (mostly) comfortable lives and our great plans. From the major devastating life changes caused by the loss of a loved one, health or employment, to the minor inconveniences of increased hand-sanitising, mask-wearing, and following a one-way system around the supermarket, all of us have been affected to some extent.

When I think of life pre-Covid, I can’t help but recall a certain verse in the prophecy of Jeremiah.


Letting go of lesser things

A toddler has a penny clenched in his chubby little fist. Kneeling down to his level is a well-dressed gentleman, holding a cheque for a million pounds, made out in the child’s name. It’s clear to see the child is not interested, much happier with the small coin, oblivious to the great riches that are being offered to him. He has no intention of letting go of his little treasure for anything.

As adults, our treasures may be more valuable than a penny, but our struggles to let go are no easier. In fact, sometimes it is what we most value that is the very thing God is asking us to let go. Take Abraham, for example. In Genesis 22, God tells him to take his son Isaac, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him for a burnt offering. If you’re at all familiar with the story, you’ll know how precious Isaac was to Abraham. He was a long-awaited son, the fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham, the one through whom God would make of Abraham a great nation. For Abraham to offer up his greatest treasure was going to be costly. It was going to hurt, more than we can imagine.


Whatsoever things are true

I have an overactive imagination. As an author, you’d think that would be a good thing. And it is – when it comes to writing books. But sometimes my imagination grows legs and gallops off across the hills to places that it was never intended to be. Like the time I was convinced that the middle-aged hotel cleaner on our Cyprus holiday when I was sixteen stole my favourite skirt. The disparity in our fashion sense and clothes size never registered with me! Or when I lay trembling in bed as a six-year-old, sure that the BFG was outside my bedroom window, ready to snatch me away in the dead of the night. I should point out that the story was new to me, and the school day unfortunately ended before I discovered that the ‘F’ in BFG actually stood for ‘friendly’!


I know not, but God knows…

New Year celebrations are usually big, bold and bright. People dress up and gather together with family and friends to welcome the coming year. It’s meant to be an occasion to celebrate, but I do wonder if there’s anyone who, deep down, doesn’t have any misgivings or fears about what may be ahead for them or their loved ones. I know I do.

We’ve all seen what can happen, unexpectedly and out of the blue. A little chorus we used to sing as children in Sunday school begins ‘What know I of the coming year, or what ’twill bring to me? Whether its close will find me here, or in eternity…’READ MORE

What has God promised?

Promise. There’s something very special about the word. We use it often, right throughout our lives, in many situations. Little Peter could be promised a reward for behaving at Great-Aunt Edith’s house, Sally might whisper some secret to her best friend Tessa as long as Tessa promises not to tell anyone, and Jimmy will present a gorgeous diamond ring to Jenny as a promise that he’s going to marry her.

These promises, though, are nothing compared with God’s promises. Tessa might pass Sally’s secret on to Amy, and Jimmy might realise that Jenny isn’t the one he wants to spend the rest of his life with after all, but God will never, ever break a promise. He is totally trustworthy, so it’s impossible.READ MORE

Immigrants, racism, and our attitude

Racism is a hot topic these days! Never a week goes past that we don’t hear or read of some racially-motivated attack or discrimination. It happens not only across the world, but locally as well.

In recent times, our world has become a smaller place. Advances in aviation mean that we can now travel colossal distances across the world in one 17.5-hour flight. The internet has opened our eyes and introduced us to people, places and cultures that, thirty years ago, we could only observe by reading National Geographic. We know more about each other, cultures have much more in common than they used to have, yet it seems that the cohabitation of different ethnic groups is fraught with as much tension as ever, if not more.READ MORE

Everlasting love

I have loved thee with an everlasting love… (Jeremiah 31:3)

Love. If any word was ever overused, yet undervalued, it’s this one. We use it to speak about people, places, objects or food, and then, when we want to express our truest, deepest sort of love, we find we need to add more words.READ MORE