Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely, he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honour him. With long life, I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
Psalm 91 NIV
There are times when it just feels that there is no way forwards- in the past couple of weeks I have reached that place personally and have felt that I simply couldn’t find a way out of the hole I felt like I was in! As many of you will know I am currently off work having been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after a period of dealing with a number of very upsetting incidents!
I am glad to say that having been diagnosed I am now of the path to recovery and I would like to thank those of you who have taken the time and trouble to contact me and offer me and my family support at this tough time for us!
For us as a nation we have again seen tragedy strike in the cruellest way this week with the horrific scenes in Manchester- many people have asked the question ‘why?’ and to be honest we could spend a significant amount of time debating why someone would carry out such a hate fuelled act as this.
For those in pain it can seem that there is no hope, no way forwards and that things will never get better- I speak from experience of losing people I love and care for- both close family members and friends who I still think about and remember even though they are gone! There are times of the year when this becomes more acute but as time passes I now focus more on all the good times and happy memories rather than how or why they died.
I shared the beginning of Psalm 91 with a couple of people this week- it is a piece of scripture that a good friend had sent to me when she found out I was unwell- it spoke to me in my dark place and reminded me that as a Christian I am not going through this alone- in Psalm 46 we read ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble’. We are not alone in our troubles and in pain- The Lord has placed people around us who love us and want to help- but most importantly God is with us in our pain!
I know from speaking with friends and colleagues that I am not the only person who is personally struggling- in different ways and in different circumstances many of the people you see around you at work, at church or elsewhere will have areas of their lives that they are finding difficult or troubling- If you are one of those people today then I want to encourage you as someone who is in the midst of the storm of life that there is a hope, there is a way forwards and that things will and do get better; in scripture we read:
1. The pain won’t last forever
He will wipe away all tears from their eyes. There will be no more death, no more grief or crying or pain. The old things have disappeared. – Revelation 21:4
2. Praise God, even when it’s hard
Why am I so sad? Why am I so troubled? I will put my hope in God, and once again I will praise him, my saviour and my God. – Psalm 43:5
3. Give your burdens to God
Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. – Matthew 11:28
4. When you are weak, God is strong
His answer was: “My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak.” I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ’s power over me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9
5. Keep your eyes on Jesus
I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me; he freed me from all my fears. The oppressed look to him and are glad; they will never be disappointed. – Psalm 34:4-5
6. God will strengthen you
But those who trust in the Lord for help will find their strength renewed. They will rise on wings like eagles; they will run and not get weary; they will walk and not grow weak. – Isaiah 40:31
7. Don’t stop praying
Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times. – Romans 12:12
8. God has got your back
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. – John 16:33
Maybe you feel hopeless today. You are in a dark place, overwhelmed by the situations you are facing and wondering when it will ever get better. In times like these, I encourage you to explore the hope of God’s Word and tell God how you are feeling- he will listen! Importantly don’t suffer in silence- talk to each other and look out for those around you who are struggling!
I have quoted this before but I want to really try and encourage you if you are struggling today as I really believe it:
‘You’ll get through this. It won’t be painless. It won’t be quick. But God will use this mess for good. In the meantime, don’t be foolish or naïve. But don’t despair either. With God’s help, you will get through this.’
I hope to be back at work as soon as I can and I would ask for your continued prayers for my family and I – In the meantime look after each other!
Branch Leader Hertfordshire C.P.A.