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Christ's courage is a light in the darkness

Rev Steve Stockman


Sending someone a text message or an email lets them know you care

Sending someone a text message or an email lets them know you care

Sending someone a text message or an email lets them know you care

It has been said that you can take the 'Sunday', 'Monday', 'Tuesday' etc off your calendar, because every day is just the same old, same old.

As a family, we have been watching a film together every night we have been locked down. Groundhog Day was one of the first. We are glad. It would be too close to the bone to watch it now.

Many of us were aware that this would be a marathon, not a sprint, and in marathons you often hit the wall.

I've been doing the Everest In A Month Challenge: 1,000 step-ups a day. If your step is high enough, you can do the equivalent of climbing Everest. My step is not big enough and a dodgy knee slowed me down. I started in April but, a week into May, I am still on the mountain. The first 350 steps every day are easy, the next 400 are tough and the last 250 you could nearly sprint.

In this tough time, it is exhausting learning new practices, being confined to our homes, crossing the street to avoid neighbours, fearing for loved ones going to work on the front line and grieving for family members who have died. No wonder we are weary.

As a pastor, I have been encouraging my congregation to find comfort in God. I believe that God is tenderly compassionate. I believe He is not a God out in space, but a God who lived among us and understands.

Jesus hit the wall. The night before the Cross, He prayed that God would take His suffering away. In prayer, He found a second wind and got off his knees to get through the Cross and the ticker-tape finish of resurrection.

God, therefore, empathises. Jesus is able to sympathise with our inner turmoil. You can seek him in the monotony of just another day and the anxiety that brings.

Yet, there is more. Jesus shows tender compassion, but He also gives us an example of tenacious courage.

We need courage right now. Courage to battle through the monotony as we wait for lockdown to be lifted. It will save lives if we can dig in and see this marathon through.

Jesus's example is an inspirational one, whether you believe Him to be God or not. Here was a man who showed fortitude and inner strength to make His way through an unjust suffering.

His claim was that He did it for others. He asked us that we follow Him. We need to follow with His tenacious courage in this marathon.

Maybe we should all see another day not as another tedious day, but as another day of opportunity.

There are many ways that we can actually ease the struggle of others. A phone call, a text, a letter sent (remember those?) or a social media message might make all the difference for someone who feels alone or under pressure.

Let us not underestimate the power of knowing that someone is thinking of you. To be remembered. To be known.

There is a very simple, yet profoundly powerful, opportunity for every single one of us to love our neighbour.

As well as the tender compassion of God and the tenacious courage of Jesus, there is the tireless creativity of the Holy Spirit. We are all invited to involve ourselves in such creativity.

Imagine what is achievable from our kitchens and front rooms. That might, in itself, ease our tedium as we reach out to help others through the marathon of these coronavirus times.

Rev Steve Stockman is minister of Fitzroy Presbyterian Church, Belfast

Apt Bible readings

Some Bible readings for the week ahead:

Monday: John 10:1-11

Tuesday: Psalm 31:1-5; 15-16

Wednesday: Matthew 26:36-46

Thursday: Philippians 2:5-11

Friday: Romans 12:3-8

Belfast Telegraph