Tag Archives: reflection

Post-mortem of a friendship

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I saw you the other day. You were with your husband, whom I barely know, and your child, whom I’ve never met. I saw you, and I was filled with the usual mix of hope and dread. Hope, that you would come over and say hi. Dread, because if you did, I wouldn’t have a clue what to say. But you didn’t, and I left, experiencing the usual mix of relief and sorrow. Relief that I wouldn’t have to find the words to cover the years and spaces between us. Sorrow over the death of a friendship.

If someone had asked me when the sickness in our friendship began, I would have said it was when we stopped living in the same place, but, on reflection, I can see now that the symptoms were there long before. You see, both of us assumed that we would be friends forever, and so both of us took the other for granted. Perhaps you more than me; because I realised one day that I was losing you, and I didn’t want to let that happen. But by the time I realised it was already almost too late.

So I fought. I fought hard. I wrote and emailed, texted (I didn’t call. I don’t like unplanned phone calls). And I received some responses, but it always seemed that they were half-hearted promises, never fulfilled or too late to make a difference.

You have to understand that I don’t blame you, because in the end, I gave up. I couldn’t keep fighting because it hurt too much.

I recognise, too, that the last missed opportunity was my fault. We had actually made plans. I was meant to drive over to see you. But then the day came and I was sick. And as I am being honest, I need to tell you that part of the sickness was out of fear. My life was a mess at that time, and as much as I wanted to see you, I didn’t want to have to explain, and I didn’t have the strength to hide all the stuff I was dealing with. So I cancelled, and you were lovely about it. You said we’d try again soon, that we’d meet in the middle, both make a trip to cover the distance between us. And this meant so much to me, because all I’d ever wanted was for you to meet me halfway.

And that was the last time I heard from you.

It was your birthday a few weeks ago. Social media reminded me. Even if it hadn’t, I would have known. The date is etched into my mental calendar. And again, I faced the dilemma – do I acknowledge it or not? I tried to remember if you had acknowledged mine. In the end, I let it pass. Once again, I was at a loss for what to say.

Maybe I’m a coward. Because the truth is, I have no idea how to fix this, and I’m scared it’s too broken, and I know I can’t do it on my own, and I’m scared that if I try, I’ll get hurt again if you don’t make the effort. Sadly, it becomes easier not to try.

And I’m sorry, I’m sorry that in the end, history and shared experience have not been enough. I’m sorry that I’ve given up, sorry that maybe you didn’t even notice I had. Sorry for any awkwardness if you should come over to chat next time.

Who knows, maybe one day this will all be forgotten. Maybe there’s a chance it will be like old times again.

So you must know, I forgive you. And I hope you can forgive me.

Book Review: 31 Days of Prayer for the Dreamer and Doer

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by Jenn Sprinkle and Kelly Rucker

(Note: in case the slightly stereotypical pinkness of the cover doesn’t make it clear, this is a devotional aimed at women – although that it is not to say that men may not get something out of it as well)

I was made aware of the impending release of this book just before Christmas via an online community of which myself and the producers of the book are a part. I immediately knew that the purchase and shipping of this book from the US would be a very good and necessary use of some of my Christmas money. I then waited impatiently for its release and for international shipping to bring it to me, as I knew I needed to read this book.

Those regular readers of mine with long memories may remember I mentioned that I had started this book back in March, at the dawn of essay season (if you are interested, you can read that post here). Those of you who can count may realise that if I have only just finished the book this week (which is in fact the case) it has taken me a heck of a lot longer than 31 days…! But the funny thing is, I found I was reading each prayer on the day I was meant to. If I had stuck to the schedule I had intended for myself, some of the prayers would not have impacted me in the way that they did. Thankfully I was gracious to myself, and allowed myself to take the time I needed.

As you may have realised, my life is pretty hectic, between working and studying. I also find that studying theology has at times actually made me feel a bit distant from God as I get too academic and forget the reason for studying is to know and love Him better. So I used this book as a daily breather between my day job and my studies, to give me a few moments of peace and focus on God before getting to grips again with the essays. This was so needed. Essay writing is stressful, and it was also our busiest time of year at work, so this book gave me the little bit of space I needed each day to stop and rest and reflect.

Each prayer is on a different topic, and not all of them will be relevant to everyone, but even the ones that I didn’t think would be actually did have something to say to me. The prayers are followed each day by a page of Bible verses related to the topic and a few questions for reflection. Some days I answered the questions in my journal, others I just used them to stimulate reflection which led to writing my own prayers.

The introductions and final section of author biographies gave an insight into the process of getting the book out there and made me feel connected to this amazing community of ladies – it showed me how much they care about their readers.

I know I will keep coming back to this book and rereading it when I am in seasons where I need that daily peace. I also have a long list of people I want to lend it to (or even give a copy as a present!)

If you are a busy person who needs to refocus on God, or a lady who struggles with feeling inferior, or someone with a heart full of dreams who needs to find some focus, I am convinced this book will really help you.

This book is available on Amazon or direct from The {well} Studio.

My Awesome God

My awesome God!

Beyond anything I can understand

More than minds can comprehend

Showing us things unseen

Making the unbelievable believable

We’re waiting for You

Hungry for You

Crying out for You

And boy do You turn up

and turn everything upside down

Defying explanations

Exceeding expectations

Stretching imaginations

So we see more

and want more

and seek more

More of You

This is a poem I wrote on Sunday 4th December, 2010, after an amazing evening at church where some pretty exciting things happened. I’ve moved on from that particular church now, and but I love rereading this poem and remembering all the amazing things that God has done in my life.

Recently I’ve been studying the Exodus and certain aspects of the Law given to the Israelites at the dawn of their nation. I used to get really frustrated at the Israelites and how quickly they forgot what God had done for them in bringing them out of Egypt. Throughout the Law books in the Bible, one phrase is repeated over and over: ‘I am the LORD your God who brought you out of Egypt’ – the Israelites are meant to keep the Law as an appropriate response to what God has done for them.

I say I used to get frustrated, because one day I realised I do the same thing – we so easily forget the good things that happen in our lives as soon as the next crisis comes along. This is why testimony is so important – sharing what God has done is encouragement to others and keeps it more firmly in our memories.

This was an instruction to the Israelites too. One of my favourite brief passages in the Old Testament law texts is this section from Deuteronomy (6v4-9): ‘“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.’

So find ways to remember what God has done for you. Write it down, tell a friend. Keep His words and promises at the forefront of your mind by leaving yourself notes, putting up posters, setting a reminder on your phone… If you have other suggestions please comment!

It is so important to keep reminding ourselves of all that God has done for us, to keep us trusting when the tougher times comes, and to keep us celebrating His love for us. The God we serve is awesome indeed.

a slightly rambly blog post…

Sometimes, when I sit down to write this blog, I really just don’t know what to say. Sometimes this is because there are no ideas, or sometimes, like today, it is because there are so many ideas flying around in my head that I can’t bring a sensible order to them.

So this is going to be short today, but I felt I needed to touch base with the few of you who like to read what I write (thank you so much!) as it has been a couple of weeks since I last posted.

Life just happens sometimes, doesn’t it?! I have had a crazy busy couple of weeks, but mostly in a really good way. I knew juggling working, studying and being a sociable human being was not going to be an easy task, and some weeks are more balanced than others. The last few weeks have been quite hectic (although a lot of fun) and finding time to stop and think has been hard.

A lot of my course requires reflection, and in a few weeks time I would love to spend some time on this blog explaining some of what I’ve been learning, as theology should be the study of every Christian, not just the academics (I still don’t consider myself an academic, by the way, just a geek). We’re now entering into essay season, where I will be summarising and applying what I have learnt over the last five(ish) months, and through that process I hope to develop my thoughts in a way that is sharable and understandable to myself and others. (This is also me apologising in advance if I don’t post again until my essays are handed in!)

But outside of my studies, I’m finding it hard to find time to rest in God’s, reflect, breathe.

Recently I’ve really been challenged (again) about not turning God into a subject to be studied. I’m sure I’ve written about this before. During the Lent season at my church we have been talking about some of our core values as a community. These stem from encountering God, and include belonging to the community and growing in our faith, then extend into serving our neighbourhood and the world.

Last week we looked at growing, and the preacher said something that was so simple yet so profound that it made me stop in my tracks: ‘To grow as a disciple we need to know Christ and His love.’ He talked about the difference between intellectual knowledge and relational knowledge, and I was so challenged.

As a theology student (or even before I was) I have always found it so easy to fall into knowing about God, that sometimes I forget that the important thing is simply knowing God and His love for me. If my intellectual pursuits are not pushing me to a deeper relational knowledge of and love for God, then they are a waste of my time.

So this week I made a change. Instead of getting in from work, watching a bit of tv to relax, and then hitting the books, I added an extra stage in. Before sitting down to study, I spent 5-10 minutes in prayer, reflecting and asking God to help me. I am not good at prayer, so I have been using a guidebook to help me, called 31 Days of Prayer for the Dreamer and the Doer by Jenn Sprinkle and Kelly Rucker (available from The {well} Studio). The first day when I started reading, it hit me so hard how much I needed this book that I nearly burst into tears in the public library. A few days in, I am definitely feeling encouraged and refreshed to go on with my busy life.

As I head into essay mode, I need to remember why I am studying theology – to know God better, not just to know more about Him.

The precious words of God

Psalm 12

In my personal Bible studies I am still sloooowly working my way through the Psalms. There is so much to love in those pages that I am taking my time and dwelling on each one. I make detailed notes, which I have been using to write some of these posts. If you followed my old blog, you may have noticed that these jumped about all over the place, and when I moved to WordPress I decided to be a bit more systematic: starting from the beginning of the Psalms and working my way through. I don’t manage to read and reflect on Scripture everyday, but I am working on this as I think it is vital when studying theology not to forget the point – which is to love God with my whole mind as well as my heart, soul and strength. My notes have got a few Psalms ahead of my blogs, so this week I have been looking back at my reflections on Psalm 12.

If I could meet any Bible character to sit down and have a chat, David would be pretty high on my list. He is such an interesting person – a warrior poet, a shepherd king, a messed-up man after God’s own heart. I often find the Psalms resonate with my experiences today, and Psalm 12 is no different.

In this Psalm, David feels isolated, like he is the only person around who is faithful to God (and this is actually quite common for Bible characters – Noah and Elijah, to name a couple, felt similarly isolated in their faith). David feels like he is surrounded by deceitful people, those who boast and flatter, and he wants God to bring truth to the situation.

The Psalm seems to take a jump here, to God speaking up on behalf of the poor and needy – but one thing I’ve realised as I’ve been looking more into issues of social justice is that deceit is a big part of the mechanisms of injustice, whether it is to trick someone into slavery, to cover up a crime or to keep someone trapped in a life they haven’t chosen. God sees all of this and He is a God of justice who will act – often through us – to free the oppressed. He keeps His promises to us, and He will protect those who seek His help.

Sometimes trying to live God’s way is a lonely and isolating experience, especially in a culture that is increasingly at odds with what we believe, but God is always with us and strengthens us to live for Him. Sometimes those around us will deceive us, and sometimes our culture and the media will try to convince us that we are idiots for wanting to believe in God and live a way that honours Him. Instead we need to listen to what God says – primarily in His Word, the Bible, but also through Christian friends and older, wiser people in our churches. Because, as David says, “The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace” (v6) – they are true, clear and precious, and He will not lead us astray.

Finding God and where to look for Him

In studying theology, I am learning things I didn’t expect to, primarily about God, but also about the world and about myself.

Over the first few months of the course we’ve been asking ourselves: how do we know what we know about God? Where does our information come from? We have been challenged to consider what presuppositions we might hold, and think about how they affect what we believe.

I discovered one of my own this week, one of my deepest and most strongly held presuppositions, in that process, I was shaken.

My presupposition was this:

When I look for God, I will find him. When I seek Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, or even when I catch sight of Him out of the corner of my eye, I will encounter Him and be brought deeper into relationship with Him.

Why did learning this about myself shake me?

Because, for some reason, I expected that having presuppositions was a bad thing, and the academic process has a tendency towards suspicion – something I’m starting to notice in the responses of my coursemates in forum discussions. I felt like someone was trying to tell me this week that I had to be cautious when it came to my experiences of God, in case the worship music had heightened my emotion; that I had to mistrust my reaction to artwork that wasn’t biblically accurate; that I need to separate myself from culture in case it leads me away from God; that I am out of my depth on this course because I want to see the merit in everything.

Of course, I didn’t realise this straight away, my primary reaction was emotional because I feel very deeply. But I think deeply too, and my mind wouldn’t rest until I figured out why I was so hurt by comments that were in no way intended to be hurtful.

Last week I wrote about my words for 2015, and in a lovely twist of God-incidence, this week at homegroup we were talking about what it means to have core values. I realised that this is what picking a word for the year is for me – it helps me to make decision to define my year, but each word gets absorbed into my life. I am still dedicated (2012) to serving God; I am still seeking to change (2013) and grow; I still want to be healthy (2014) in all areas of my life. This week I realised that trust (2015) is already an integral part of my character, that suspicion is quite alien to my nature.

I’ve realised that I cannot be cautious is seeking to encounter God, but instead that I trust Him to be true, even if my motives or emotions or thought processes are faulty.

And I still trust that I will find Him when I seek Him, even if I am searching in places that others wouldn’t think to look.

I love allegory. I love it when God turns up in a place I hadn’t expected to find Him. I love being led to worship Him at a rock concert or listening to a pop song. I love discovering truth about God when watching a film about good and evil, or someone sacrificing something for someone they love, or someone going on an adventure. I love watching tv shows that challenge me and remind me of the terrible state of the human condition and how much we need a saviour. I love seeing people use their talents to create something amazing, because the creative process gives glory to the Creator God, who made us in His creative image (even when the ones doing the creating don’t realise they are doing this).

Yes, I have presuppositions, and yes, some of them will need to be challenged.

But this is one I am holding onto:

“You will seek me

and find me

when you seek me

with all your heart”

(Jeremiah 29v13)

Be on the look out for God and you will find Him, even in places you’re not expecting to see Him.

Why I pick a word

Greetings. We’re nearly a month into 2015, and I realise it’s been a while since I wrote. Well, 2015 so far hasn’t been quite as straightforward as I could have hoped. But more on that to come.

I’m part of an awesome online community and in the run up to the end of 2014, there was much talk about what word we would be picking for 2015. To some this was a new idea and they were keen to know what it was all about, and it got me to reflecting on what it means to me to pick a word for each year.

You see, this is something I’ve done for several years now, and it was good remind myself why I do this. Each year I pick a word that I want to help define that year, to help me reflect and to guide my decisions. Last year I decided to pair it with a Bible verse as well, to help me focus on God and what I felt He would want for me in that year.

Let me give you a brief history of the words I picked and why…

2012 – this was the first time I picked a word. I was serving God in a church and loving it, so I settled for the word ‘dedicated’ because I was giving the year to God, and wanted to focus more on Him.

2013 – unfortunately, many things in 2012 didn’t happen as I would have liked, leaving me with many questions, and basically feeling a bit like I’d gone through the blender. So the word I picked for 2013 was ‘change’ – I wanted to be different, renewed, more hopeful, more trusting, and I wanted to see my life change for the better. This led me to make some brave decisions, to relocate and face new challenges.

2014 – In some significant ways, however, my life had started to get worse. My new job, in a new city, was much more challenging than I had expected, and by the end of 2013 my health was suffering. So my word for 2014 became ‘health’, and my verse was Luke 10v27: “The Scriptures say, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind.’ They also say, ‘Love your neighbors as much as you love yourself.’”

With this verse, I thought about how I could show my love for God by taking better care of myself in each of the four areas of heart, soul, strength and mind. I took this one pretty seriously, and took several pages of my journal to outline how I was going to practise loving God and myself in each area (if you followed the previous incarnation of my blog you may remember reading about this). The trouble was, as I plunged headlong into 2014, some of the lessons took a long time to stick. I got to April and suddenly realised how much I was struggling at my job, and how unhappy I was in the city – I’d been living there nearly a year and felt so isolated and alone. I suddenly knew, for the sake of my health, I had to leave.

I think this was the hardest decision I had ever made.

After a brief holiday, during which I’d admitted this to myself, I returned to work and had a difficult conversation with my boss, the minister of the church I was working for. And as I explained how I’d been feeling, it was like a huge weight lifting off my shoulders. I agreed to stay a few more months, to give the church and myself time to plan our next steps.

Last year’s word brought about such significant change in my life. It helped me realise what my strengths and weaknesses are, and helped me realise letting go is not the same as giving up. It challenged me to remember what my dreams are and gave me the courage to follow them, even if it seems crazy or risky to others.

So as the end of 2014 approached I started to think about what I wanted from 2015. I had several realisations, including the fact that I was finally living in the same town again as two of my best friends growing up, and wanted to make up for lost time with them. Also, for the first time in a long time I am working in a non-Church environment, and I want to build good relationships with my colleagues who aren’t Christians and hopefully have some opportunities to share my faith with them. Third, I realised that as an introvert, I can tend to shy away from social situations as I find them intimidating, but I don’t want to let my weaknesses define me, I want to let them refine me and make me grow.

So the word I have picked for 2015 is ‘relate’, and I’m focusing on the second part of last year’s verse: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’. This means that this year I am trying to make decisions that will help me to build relationships with others and give me opportunities to show them how amazing they are, and how much they are loved by God.

However, as I said at the beginning of this post, things didn’t start out quite how I’d planned in 2015.

I picked up a nasty bug over Christmas, and spent the first couple of weeks of this year feeling decidedly under the weather. I also had spent more money than planned over Christmas and New Years and was starting to worry about whether I would have enough saved to pay my tuition fees for my course. I was also anticipating changing times at work, as I would be taking on new responsibilities, especially with a colleague moving onto another job. Having only been in post for three months, I was worried about how I would cope with the changes. I was also worried about my course, and whether I could cope with the workload

Basically, I started 2015 scared.

But fear is not what I want to define my life. I had a sudden moment of clarity in the middle of my fever, where I realised how scared I was. And I decided not to be scared any more.

You see, if I have learnt anything over the last couple of years, it is that God is so much bigger than any situation I find myself in. And He cares. He cares so much for me that He doesn’t want me to live a life of fear. And He always has a plan. I could never have dreamed a few years ago that I would be where I am now, but He has lead me so gently, that I know so deeply now that I am where I am meant to be. So I don’t need to be afraid.

So I had to pick another word for myself, to help remind me of this every time I start to let the fear in: Trust. And the verse to go with it: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3v5-6).

Since making this decision, I have felt such peace about my finances, my course, my job, and my relationships. It’s not easy, but everyday I am choosing to trust God in everything and asking Him to bless my relationships. I am still learning, but I am also more aware of Him at work.

It’s still early days for 2015, and I am excited to see how it will progress as I focus on trusting God and loving my neighbour. I’d love to hear whether you’ve picked a word for 2015, and what it means to you.

Third Sunday of Advent

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John 1:1-18

This is one of my all-time favourite bits of the Bible. Especially at Christmastime when as we remember how Jesus came to live on earth, became fully human.

When I read this passage, I’m always struck by v14 – “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”. I’m told that a better translation of ‘dwelt’ is ‘pitched His tent’ or ‘tabernacled’

I’ve got a little note written in the margin of my Bible here – “be a tabernacle people, not a temple people. God who tabernacles with us wherever we set up camp”. We can get so fixated on church being a building, God’s house, that we forget that WE are the church, and wherever God’s people are, He is right there. Before the Israelites settled in the Promised land and built a temple, God’s dwelling was the tabernacle, a “tent of meeting” that they packed up, picked up and carried with them wherever they went. When they finished their day’s wanderings, they would reassemble the tent and set up camp around in. God dwelt in the middle of wherever His people were.

Looking back on the last year, and starting to think about the one to come, this is such a comforting message. Whatever this year throws at me, Jesus is right there with me through it all. He, Be came, became flesh and lived as a human. He knows emotions, He lived highs and lows and is right now with me to comfort or rejoice, to laugh, cry or encourage as needed. That gives me hope.

Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Christ into the world, but we can get so caught up in the Christmas traditions that we miss so much of the beauty in the story.

I’ve had several conversations this week with friends about a character in the nativity that is so often overlooked: Joseph. He didn’t have to take on the burden of Mary’s pregnancy, but he choose to still marry her and adopt her child, God’s child, as his own son. He protected the baby Jesus from danger, and then brought the boy up, teaching him and loving him. Joseph’s adoption of Jesus teaches us a profound truth, which is explained in verses 12 and 13 of this passage: “to all who did receive him [Jesus], who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection gave us access to God, gave us the opportunity to become His sons.

I say sons because, much as I love to be inclusive of my own gender, children just does not get across the power of the image. Sons were the heirs, they had all the rights in Biblical times. Everyone who believes in Jesus gains all the rights of a son of God, all the inheritance He has in store for us (women included).

Jesus came. He was born, He lived, He died, He has been through all of human existence and can comfort us and encourage us, He is with us now, Emmanuel, and He welcomes us into God’s family.

face to face

Psalm 11

King David was a man of great faith, even when circumstances were not great. It makes me so happy that we have so many Psalms that were written by (or at least attributed to) him. They permit us to be so honest with God, as we can see that David never minced his words when it came to his emotions, his pain frustration and anger, he took it all to God, along with his praise and worship.

In this psalm we see that David is assured of God’s care for him, he takes refuge in God. People are telling him to be afraid, to flee his enemies, but David trusts in the LORD. He knows that God sees what is happening. David is sure that God will judge those who do wrong, and also that the righteous will be tested, purified, but ultimately they will get to see God.

We may not like the sound of the testing/purifying bit, but it is a promise that is repeated throughout Scripture. One of my favourite verses in the Bible is in 1 Peter 1:6-7: ‘In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ’. I haven’t had the easiest year, by any stretch of the imagination, but through it all I learned to cling ever tighter to my faith, to God who sees me through every trial. I know that I am stronger, that my faith is stronger, because of what I have been through, and I trust that that is honouring to God. Another of the many verses that have enocouraged me this year is Romans 8:28: ‘and we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose’. When I look back on the last year, now, with a little bit of distance, I can see start to see the good in it.

See, the thing is, trials hurt, being purified in a fire is painful, but I want to be pure. I want to have my rough edges stripped away and to be made righteous by my faith in the One who created and loves me. Because there is a promise in this psalm that is echoed elsewhere in the Bible. The righteous will see God. In Matthew 5:8, Jesus promises something very similar, though his words are slightly different: ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.’ I hope that I will have the courage to face any trial that comes my way if it means I become more like God and brings me closer to meeting Him face to face.

a new world coming

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Psalm 10

As I mentioned last week, Psalms 9 and 10 were most likely originally one psalm, and thematically, as well as structurally, there are a lot of similarities. David focuses here in this second part on the attitude and character of a wicked person, and how they may seem to prosper for a time, but shows that God is attentive to the cries of the oppressed and will bring justice.

Sometimes it seems that God just does not care. Sometimes it seems that the world is going to the dogs, evil people are threatening the innocent and everything just feels really messed up. Many situations nationally and worldwide spring to mind. David felt the same way. He describes for us a typical evil person: boastful, greedy, arrogant, deceitful, foul tongued, murderous, scheming and thieving.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that on occasion I can show any or all of these characteristics, but there is one right at the centre of David’s list, in verse 4, that is the key characteristic: ‘In the pride of his face, the wicked does not seek Him, all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”’

It is not what we do that makes us righteous or wicked, it is whom we believe in.

Because the truth is that God does see everything that goes on in the world. He does hear when we cry out to Him in pain and anguish. It breaks His heart to see the horrible things humans do to each other and to the planet. And when we cry out to Him, He will always respond. He will bring comfort with His presence, which is the thing we need most, and sometimes He will bring answers to our questions and relief to our distress.

I can’t answer the question of why there is suffering in the world, why evil seems to prosper or why there are natural disasters, diseases and wars. But David gives us an answer: one day this will all end. In verses 16-18 he says: ‘The Lord is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land. O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.’

God’s kingdom is coming. In some ways it is here already, little glimpses can be seen in the kindnesses we show to each other, when we imitate Jesus and sacrifice our selves to help those in need. We don’t do this to seek approval from God or to be made right with Him. We do this because we have been made right with Him by trusting Him and we want to love others because of the love He has shown us.

A few years ago I heard a talk given by the Rev Graham Cray at the Soul Survivor summer festival. One thing he said has stayed with me ever since, and for me it sums up this Psalm beautifully:

“God does not call us to be holy just to please Him. It does please Him, the Bible makes that clear, but He calls us to be holy so that the world sees the new world that’s coming right in the midst of the old world that’s broken.”