From The Manse

 

January 2021

Dear Friends,

In this life, uncertainties abound.

We may persuade ourselves for a while that we know exactly what’s going to happen next, only to realize and re-realize that so much of life seems outside of our control. This awareness can cause us to become anxious and, at times, fearful.

Thankfully, the Bible has much to say that can reassure us and strengthen us for all that we can experience in this life.

 I have often been comforted as I call to mind God’s enduring faithfulness. You remember the story of Abraham?

Called by God to leave his home and be a wandering nomad, Abraham lived with uncertainty every day. Where was he going? How was God going to provide him with a son? What if he was killed or taken into slavery by a foreign king? The most important part of Abraham’s story is not Abraham but God’s faithfulness in caring for Abraham. Even when Abraham tried to take things into his own hands, God continued to work his plan for Abraham and Sarah despite the many obstacles they encountered. It didn’t happen the way they expected, and it took longer than they would have liked, but God did what he promised and provided for Abraham.

Isn’t there something here to reassure and strengthen us as we journey into this New Year? We do not know when the global pandemic will end. Though people are now being vaccinated against coronavirus, the number of people with the virus is rising at an alarming level and the National Health Service is at risk of being overwhelmed. Daily news bulletins are concerning but let us remember this - God remains faithful to his promises. He has not abandoned us and he never shall. While the future is uncertain to us, the future is never uncertain for God.

Those who know me well will be aware that I am not the most patient of people. I like things to be done yesterday! Yet, as I get older I sense that I am becoming more patient which is probably a good thing for my blood pressure! The Bible, in speaking about God’s faithfulness, also speaks about His plans being fulfilled, albeit in a timespan that may not always be easy to accept or understand. Think of the experience of the people of Israel. They were promised a Messiah and looked fervently to the day when he would come. But they had to wait hundreds of years until the promise was fulfilled! What a test of their patience!

A favourite verse of mine is found in Jeremiah Ch 29 and Verse 11;

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’

Hope and a future. These things we have through God coming to the world in Jesus. He is with us at all times and though certain things are hidden from our sight, nothing is hidden from God. He knows our hopes and fears, our joys and sorrows and through Jesus, He seeks to reassure us in order that we might find the strength to look forward with hope and confidence. It is my firm belief that our comfort through uncertainty is God’s unfailing and faithful love.

Often at the beginning of a New Year we hear the words quoted by King George VI in his 1939 Christmas broadcast;

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:

‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’

And he replied:

‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.’

So I went forth, and finding the hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.’

These words struck a chord with the country facing the uncertainty of war. I believe they speak to us at this time of uncertainty. May we, therefore, pay heed to them and put our hand into the hand of God, for of this we can be certain, he is faithful and his plans for us are good!

Every blessing,

Your Friend and Minister,

Gary J McIntyre