Tag Archives: struggle

Spare a Thought

By Produnis (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
If you are celebrating this Christmas time, and why shouldn’t you?!, please spare a thought for those who aren’t or can’t…

for the person visibly struggling, and the one sat quietly in the corner;
for the one trying to make the best of it, and the one trying to pretend it isn’t happening;
for those whose pain and struggle we know of, and those who we have no idea of the burdens they carry;
for those who wish today was different and those for whom every day is the same – and not in a good way;
for those who don’t have food to eat, a roof over their head and don’t have the luxury of ‘being ready for Christmas’;
for those who have no one to buy gifts for, and those who have nothing to spare on such luxuries.

for the mourning, wishing that person was here;
for those with no answers, wondering when, or if, they will ever know;
for the scarred, and the scared, for whom today is just another day of fear;
for those for whom a change of routine is confusing and frightening;
for those who can see someone they love slipping from them;
for the chronically ill, for whom today is just another day of dealing with symptoms and managing treatment;
for those for whom today is just another day of work

for those who so want today to be different, and know it isn’t;
for those who want to join in, and can’t;
for those who wish they were somewhere else, and aren’t

And the food and the decorations and the celebrations make no difference, for today is just another day of pain, hurt, dealing with life…

Think of them and if there is anything you can do to make this Christmas different, or just hold them and remember not everyone is celebrating



Sorrow #Advent

Nikolai Bogdanov-Belsky 01

It can seem at times so hard to find any hope in the world, any glimmer of a different future, perhaps especially today, of a time when war and troubles are over, when sorrow has ended.

One thing the Old Testament show us is that Twas Ever Thus.  Humanity has always done a good job of causing trouble for one another – mistreating, making enemies, creating disaster – generally trying to prove who is bigger, stronger and making the life of the weak and vulnerable even more precarious.

Into this God spoke.  Into this God continues to speak.  The Advent message of hope is as needed today as it was when the prophets first spoke it.  God promises that this will end.

Why hasn’t he yet?  Perhaps we haven’t given him chance, allowed him to.  God is trying to stop wars and we keep starting them.  We are still intent on proving who is better, more right – and we fail to live with one another, with tensions and different opinions.  We struggle to do it over even small things, so no wonder we can’t do it over international conflict.  And when weapons get involved, there will only be one end – more hurt, more destruction, more suffering for those who didn’t start anything.

Yet still God continues to stand with us, weep with and for us, and promise an end – just as soon as we let him.  Sorrow will end.  We will be safely home.

God will lead us home and we will be safely blessed – that is our Advent hope.

What am I doing to work with him?

O Lord,
I know you weep over humanity,
you are distraught
at the things we do to one another.

You promise to bring us home
to a place of safety
and joy,
but we carry on the fighting,
and wonder why you aren’t doing something.

Forgive me Lord
for the part I play
in keeping anger and oppression going.

and tomorrow
may I work with you
to bring an end
that we may be able
to come home to you.

The theme of the first week in Advent is The Day of the Lord.  We look forward to the coming of that day.

Zephaniah 3:14-20


A Song of Celebration

14 Everyone in Jerusalem and Judah,
celebrate and shout
    with all your heart!
15 Zion, your punishment is over.
The Lord has forced your enemies
    to turn and retreat.
Your Lord is King of Israel
    and stands at your side;
you don’t have to worry
    about any more troubles.

16 Jerusalem, the time is coming,
    when it will be said to you:
“Don’t be discouraged
    or grow weak from fear!
17 The Lord your God
wins victory after victory
    and is always with you.
He celebrates and sings
    because of you,
and he will refresh your life
    with his love.”

The Lord’s Promise to His People

18 The Lord has promised:
Your sorrow has ended,
    and you can celebrate.
19 I will punish those
    who mistreat you.
I will bring together the lame
    and the outcasts,
then they will be praised,
instead of despised,
    in every country on earth.
20 I will lead you home,
    and with your own eyes
you will see me bless you
    with all you once owned.
Then you will be famous
    everywhere on this earth.
I, the Lord, have spoken!

O Lord the Clouds are Gathering

Hannah, Elkanah, Life – and Eventually Samuel

What an amazing array of emotions and family dynamics are played out in this short passage!  It plays out like an episode of a soap opera:

1 Samuel 1:4-20 (CEV)

Whenever Elkanah offered a sacrifice, he gave some of the meat to Peninnah and some to each of her sons and daughters. But he gave Hannah even more, because he loved Hannah very much, even though the Lord had kept her from having children of her own.

Peninnah liked to make Hannah feel miserable about not having any children, especially when the family went to the house of the Lord each year.

One day, Elkanah was there offering a sacrifice, when Hannah began crying and refused to eat. So Elkanah asked, “Hannah, why are you crying? Why won’t you eat? Why do you feel so bad? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”

When the sacrifice had been offered, and they had eaten the meal, Hannah got up and went to pray. Eli was sitting in his chair near the door to the place of worship. 10 Hannah was brokenhearted and was crying as she prayed, 11 Lord All-Powerful, I am your servant, but I am so miserable! Please let me have a son. I will give him to you for as long as he lives, and his hair will never be cut.”

12-13 Hannah prayed silently to the Lord for a long time. But her lips were moving, and Eli thought she was drunk. 14 “How long are you going to stay drunk?” he asked. “Sober up!”

15-16 “Sir, please don’t think I’m no good!” Hannah answered. “I’m not drunk, and I haven’t been drinking. But I do feel miserable and terribly upset. I’ve been praying all this time, telling the Lord about my problems.”

17 Eli replied, “You may go home now and stop worrying. I’m sure the God of Israel will answer your prayer.”

18 “Sir, thank you for being so kind to me,” Hannah said. Then she left, and after eating something, she felt much better.

Samuel Is Born

19 Elkanah and his family got up early the next morning and worshiped the Lord. Then they went back home to Ramah. Later the Lord blessed Elkanah and Hannah 20 with a son. She named him Samuel because she had asked the Lord for him.

So many questions and issues are raised – more questions than answers:

  • a man’s different treatment of his wives (ignoring the fact he had more than one wife, as that would have been the acceptable norm then!).  Treating them differently because he loved one ‘more than’ the other.  Is it right to treat people differently depending on how we feel about them?  Should there be parity among family members and those we have a responsibility too?
  • One wife likes to make the other miserable.  We get the impression that she takes every opportunity possible to rub in her having children, being a ‘proper woman’ and Hannah not. A cruel thing to do, but perhaps not an unfamiliar one.  When have I been on the end of that kind of behaviour, and how has it made me feel?  How can I bring that to God?  OR when have I done such a thing, with or without intending to?  What can I do about that today?
  • Hannah’s feeling of worthlessness – Elkanah does his best.  Where do we find our human value – especially if there is part of our humanity we feel is missing or we have failed at?  Where is my worth?  How can I reach it, broken, battered and bruised as I am?  Our value to God is way beyond our achievements and what others think of us.
  • Hannah’s utter desperation.  She is willing to pour her heart out to God.   Is there something in my life that brings me to such a point of despair?  What can I do about it?  Can I bring my despair to God as Hannah did?
  • The misunderstanding of the Eli!  Are we sometimes to quick to jump to conclusions?  Or to assume what someone needs without allowing them to verbalise it?  Do I do that?  Do we allow people the opportunity to speak, to share?  Can I make a safe place for that?
  • God answers Hannah’s prayer exactly as she asked.  Probably my most overwhelming feeling about this passage is ‘That’s not fair’, ‘what about me?’ ‘what about all the prayers, equally fervent, that don’t get answered so obviously?’ That nearly made me leave this passage alone.

But that is a reality.  Sometimes our prayers are answered exactly as we want – and other times not.  How we deal with that is perhaps more a measure of our faith than the size of the prayers we pray in the first place.  This wasn’t the first time Hannah had prayed this prayer by any means.  Her journey had been a long struggle.  She had suffered on and on.  And now, at this point God responds as she wishes.  Now is the time for that to happen.  We don’t know why God knew that this was the right time, the right way – but it was.  And Hannah is delighted to respond in faith and offering.

But there were so many times when it wasn’t the answer she wanted – as there will be in our lives too.  We have to find a way of carrying on, of continuing to pray, of still holding our situation before God, whilst also allowing him to act in his ways and perhaps change the prayer we pray.

Somehow, some way, one day it will all make sense – but as we see God’s sense and not necessarily as we get our own way.

So many questions.  So many ways of Gods working.  A fair bit of heart-searching.  Maybe a struggle.  Ultimately allowing God to work, and being open to his possibilities.