What if…?

Published: Friday September 30, 2016

pauline-godfrey-squareIt’s hard to imagine how much has changed for those living through the unrest in Syria. Not so long ago families went shopping, lived in houses with all mod-cons and enjoyed the freedoms of modern transport.  Food was available, neighbours were friends. Schools, hospitals, businesses were day to day realities.  All that has changed – houses have been blown away, good sanitation is a thing of the past.  Clean water, food, means of cooking or providing heat – all resources which now have to be purchased at great cost from scarce supplies.  Friends and neighbours have become competitors – working for their own survival often at the cost of others. A way of living which had been reasonably straightforward has been turned upside down.

Of course our hearts go out to these folk and we pray for peace and justice for the people in Syria. However, I have also taken to wondering how I would cope if these things happened to me.  There’s the physical coping – the resourcefulness needed to change a lifetime’s habits to find innovative ways to provide for my family. Whether I’d be fit enough to cope with all the change which would be forced on me – the poor diet I would have or the physical effort it would take just to exist.  But there’s the spiritual side too – what would happen to my faith in God and God’s people?  Is my faith built on the fact that my life has been relatively easy? What would I believe if everything were taken away and the future seemed dark and bleak? One of my favourite psalms (Psalm 46) speaks of God’s help and strength even when the world is falling apart – ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble’.  I believe I’ve experienced that. God’s very presence when we are going through dark times – not necessarily to stop the struggle but to provide a deeper hope and assurance that there is a way through to tomorrow.

As I think of all those who are in dark and difficult places today I pray that they will experience God’s comforting presence. I hope too that if I was in that place that someone somewhere would pray the same for me.

By the Revd Pauline Godfrey, Discipleship and Vocations Officer

One thought on “What if…?

  1. Thank you Pauline. Soon after reading your blog I happened to hear an example of Christian witness in a war torn city (link and text below). Although not a prayer in the traditional meaning, this must still have been a wonderful blessing to those in distress


    Good morning …
    On May 27th, 1992, Vedran Smailovic, principal cellist in the Sarajevo City Opera, was practising his cello in an upstairs apartment. Beautiful Sarajevo; a centre of European art and culture had been transformed into a living hell as sniper fire and bombardment from the nearby hills that overlooked its neighbourhoods and streets rained down upon its terrified citizens daily.

    Across the way from Smailovic’s apartment, a line of people queued at a local bakery, when without warning, a missile exploded in the midst of the crowd. The cellist, shaken by the blast ran to his window and looked out onto a scene of horror. Twenty-two innocent people lay dead, men, women and children.

    Smailovic was left determined to make a stand against such evil and decided to do what he knew best, to play his cello. The next day, dressed in formal black-tie, he took his cello and sat amongst the rubble and ruins of bombed buildings and cultural landmarks. In honour of all who had died, in defiance of the horror of war, day after day he would sit for hours playing stunning and emotive pieces of music. A haunting photograph captures the scene; a sign of hope in the midst of despair. Beauty rising from the ashes.

    The great mystery of the Christian faith is that an infant child, born into confused and dysfunctional circumstances could in fact be the Saviour of the world, the Prince of peace. We all face challenges, hurt and pain all around us but in Christ there is hope. Beauty can rise from the ruins and rubble of our broken lives.

    Lord Jesus, you put a new song in our hearts today. Give us eyes to see your hope in the midst of despair. Amen.

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