“God says, “I am offering you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19). “Choose life.” That’s God’s call for us, and there is not a moment in which we do not have to make that choice. Life and death are always before us. In our imaginations, our thoughts, our words, our gestures, our actions … even in our non-actions. This choice for life starts in a deep interior place. Underneath very life-affirming behaviour I can still harbour death-thoughts and death-feelings. The most important question is not “Do I kill?” but “Do I carry a blessing in my heart or a curse?” The bullet that kills is only the final instrument of the hatred that began being nurtured in the heart long before the gun was picked up.”
“God doesn’t stop the bad things from happening; That’s never been part of His promise. The promise is I am with you. I am with you now. Until the end of time.”
“You can only come to the morning through the shadows.”
“Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.”
My Prayer today is for hope, a stubborn hope that trusts, and clasps relentlessly to faith, though the mountains might quake and fall into the sea. How are we to sustain our souls? How are we to stand up still when we are buffeted by sorrows, overwhelmed by circumstances? My old friend’s sister’s brother-in-law and his wife were recently murdered and she is on her way to the funeral. We see on our television pictures of unimaginable carnage, hopeless situations, and soul-crushing grief. We feel a hopelessness that causes us to put up our defences and avert our gaze. Such sadness is hard to watch, to contemplate. And neither should we, dwell on sorrows, at least not for long. Our inclination to turn our face towards the sun is a survival instinct. The need to look for life and hope in the midst of tragedy is essential. Love carries on, and rises again against all odds. I remember the poster I put above my father’s hospital bed as he lay in his last days, “And now these three remain: Faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:13). Love will emerge at the funeral of my friend’s family, there will be tears and solidarity, there will be everything good in human nature at work to keep the evil at bay. Death will slink back into the shadows, as life reasserts itself as victor.
These are drawn from daily reflections and prayers which I write for my Chaplaincy colleagues.