Weekly Update - 16th April
Dear sisters and brothers,
What is the weather like with you? It’s a beautiful day outside; not like last week when we experienced the rather strange weather of blue sunny skies one minute and snow the next. It did feel rather odd – as if the weather can’t decide if it is winter or spring.
It is not the only strange mixture we are experiencing at the moment. Whilst there is a definite sense of optimism as the vaccination programme continues to go well and more and more restrictions are lifted, I am very aware of the increasing number of people who are feeling the strain more and more. If you are one of those who are finding that you are more anxious or finding it harder to cope – be assured that you are far from alone. And if you are one who is finding things a little easier, then it is worth being aware that for many that is not the case. It does seem rather strange, however, that as things look a little brighter, for many their emotions are more wintery.
I have often found comfort in something Paul wrote in his second letter to the Corinthians when he recounts a time that he and his companions were “under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life” (2 Cor 1:8). There are two reasons why I find it comforting that even Paul, with his great faith and understanding of God, could have found himself in such a depth of despair. The first is simply the recognition that he experienced the strange mixture of great faith and deep despair – like snow on a sunny day. If he struggled in such a way, I shouldn’t expect to avoid such feelings. And when life is hard, I shouldn’t be too hard on myself for finding it so. The second comfort comes from the fact that Paul shows us that reliance on God is the route to deliverance from despair. He is even able to say later on in the letter that though they were hard pressed, they were not crushed; though perplexed, they were not in despair (2 Cor 4:8).
Someone told me recently that they had been unable to sleep because of their worries and concerns so they began to recount to themselves what Jesus had done for them and how much God loved them. It didn’t mean that all the troubles went away, but they were able to sleep. I know that that sounds easy, and it isn’t – but it again reminds us that in the midst of our troubles God is not far from us.
And there is one more thing to learn from what Paul writes to the Christians in Corinth. He tells them that part of the reason he continues to set his hope on God is that they are helping him by their prayers. He urges them to continue to pray so that “many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favour granted us in answer to the prayers of many.” In these strange days of sunshine and snow, hope and anxiety, faith and despair – please continue to pray for one another so that we might together give thanks to God.
As always the notice sheet, including details of our services in Cairncry Centre, and the words for the online service are enclosed. May you know God’s peace and strength.
With love from Sarah and myself,
Rev. Ian Aitken
52 Ashgrove Road West
Tel. 01224 686929
Aberdeen: Stockethill Church of Scotland
Scottish Charity Number - SC030587