On at least a couple of occasions this week, our current circumstances have shed new light onto our daily Bible readings as the scriptures resonated with strength and relevance.
One of our readings took us to Colossians 2, where Paul writes: – ‘…I want you to know how much I am struggling for you, and for those in Laodicea, and for all who have not seen me face to face.’(Col 2:1) Sound familiar? Paul’s circumstances were different from ours in that he was facing the might of the Roman legal system and had been put under house arrest, but the consequences were in many ways similar. Unable to visit the people who he loved and ministered to, he had to find new ways of maintaining the relationship – pen and ink in his case, rather than a phone call or social media, and a courier, spending weeks travelling hundreds of miles over land and sea, rather than a telephone line or WiFi connection conveying our messages in microseconds!
The encouragement is that, in some ways, our situation is not new at all.God’s timeless Word, written hundreds of years ago, has something to say to us today as, like Paul, we struggle to help the friends, neighbours and family who we simply cannot see face to face at this time. A significant part of his struggle for them took the form of prayer – which we can also do for our friends, neighbours and family. Another part of his efforts for them was to take the time to maintain his relationship with them – keeping human contact and relationship is so important when we are apart, whether it is by letter, phone or the latest social media. And we can also learn from his motive in writing, as he goes on to say: – ‘I want their hearts to be encouraged and united in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ himself…’ (Col 2:2)
Later in the week, our readings took us into the Psalms, where we find these words of encouragement and hope in Psalm 57:1-2: – ‘Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for my soul takes refuge in you; in the shadow of your wings will I take refuge, until the storm of destruction has passed by.’ The Psalmist also experienced the most difficult of times. In faith, he turned to God for refuge, even while whatever ‘storm’ he was facing was at its height. He looked forward to the time when the ‘storm of destruction’ was over, by holding firmly to God. At a time of despair, he found hope for the future by trusting in God.
We would be interested to know what scriptures you are reading in a new light at this time your new understanding of them may well help others!Meanwhile, our prayer is that, as we maintain contact with each other in whatever ways we can, we will all be encouraged; we will be united in love; and we will hold on to hope for the future.
With our love and prayers
Matthew and Pauline