8th Jan 2012

Dear Friends - August 2011

By Andy Jarvis

 

Dear Friends,
It's hard to remember a year like this one for the awful situations that
people in the church family have found themselves in and I accept that
it is very easy to believe that God has left the building when we find
ourselves facing painful bereavement, marriage breakdown, relationship breakdown or serious illness.
Why doesn't God fix my situation?
I keep praying but nothing changes!
Where is God when I need him?
I don't see God in this at all, in fact I don't see God full stop.
These are all questions and statements which have been asked of me or have challenged me recently. I've wanted to provide an answer, felt it my duty to be able to explain what's going on and what God is up to, but most of the time all I can do is acknowledge pain and try and stand beside people when they are going through it. So is there hope for those in difficult times? I know the answer is yes,
but I cannot say when and I cannot say how. I've been reading a minister's account of his grief following his wife's sudden suicide. His greatest comfort comes from his dog, who knows that something is wrong, who keeps his master company, who listens, yet does not speak. I rather think I should learn something from that dog; that answers aren't what's needed so much as presence and listening. At the end of the first year since his wife's death, the minister still experiences much loneliness and grief, but he is also beginning to
see God in evidence. The clues were there at the time, but it takes him a long time to make connections. Weeks before his wife's death he had ordered a CD. It had taken so long to come, he'd almost forgotten about it. It arrived the morning after his wife died. It was called "O for a
closer walk with thee." Weeks after the funeral, he found a card that had fallen unopened down behind a cushion. It was from a Christian couple, very special to him. It came with their love and an inscription, "O for a closer walk with thee." God was gently reminding him of His presence.
 
Last week, Ruth was telling me about a social network site she has
found. It is a group of runners from all over the world. Many of them
are Christians and have been a great encouragement to her. Bob's death has been so painful and damaging to the family, but even here, God is there in the midst. I do not know how God will step in and work for good in all circumstances, nor when He will, but I do know that he will. I love some of the great comeback stories, the rescue stories of the Bible; how refugees Ruth and Naomi are saved from poverty and starvation, how the widow's oil is used to save her sons from slavery
how Lazarus is raised from the dead how Elisha's servant sees beyond the soldiers who surround his house, to the armies of angels who protect him. God is amazing. The hymn writer who penned "There is a redeemer" hit the nail on the head. Some of our church family face some awful situations right now. What can we give them? Not answers, but active care, practical love and the conviction expressed by the psalmist when he wrote;
Psalm 27:13
I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the
land of the living.
14
Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
Finally, please pray for the Holiday Club and for your friends family and
neighbours, that through us they may come to know the Redeemer, Jesus
Christ.
with love to you all,
Andy
 

 

Andy was a schoolteacher for eleven years before training for ministry, while based on a large council estate just outside Portsmouth. Originally from Brighton, Andy has been the Minister at South Molton Baptist Church since 2001. He is married to Helen and has three children and a granddaughter.