Problems come in all shapes and sizes.
The shape and size of the following problem fits a king-size waterbed – once very popular, but now, not so much! Some years ago, the Reader’s Digest recounted the story of the owner of a waterbed who woke one morning to find a small pool of water on the bed. Determined to fix the puncture, he emptied the bladder, then rolled the heavy mattress outside and re-filled it in order to locate the leak more easily.
Suddenly, the enormous bag of water began sliding down the steeply sloping lawn. Though he struggled to stop its progress, his best efforts proved fruitless. The runaway mattress came to rest against a bougainvillea shrub whose long, razor-sharp thorns rendered the mattress utterly unfit for further service!
Disgusted, its owner dismantled the water-bed frame and threw it out. He then went shopping and purchased a new, conventional bed. But the next morning, he awoke to find a pool of water in the middle of the new bed. The upstairs bathroom had a leaky drain-pipe!
On a much grander scale are the problems encountered by so many people in rural and outback areas of Australia today. I’ve just received a letter from the director of the Uniting Church’s Frontier Services – an arm of the Church that works tirelessly to support ministries to people living in remote areas of Australia. Tragically, reports from the field are indicating that more and more people are struggling with increasing mental health issues arising from devastating bush fires, the worst drought in recorded history, the devastation of floods, the Covid-19 pandemic and now, in many areas, a horrible mouse-plague!
Issues facing folk in the bush, and many of their tragic tales are just too difficult to share. Suffice to say that the mental health situation is critical.
John, has been involved in some heartbreaking tragedies during his 18-years as a Frontier Services Bush Chaplain. However, 2020 and the first couple of months of 2021 have been, by far, his toughest.
The number of suicides and domestic violence cases has skyrocketed in the Pilbara region in Western Australia where John works.
All cases are heartbreaking, but the one that affected him incredibly deeply was a 16-year-old boy who was bullied at school – and subsequently took his own life. It’s not just individuals, but also the partners, family members and the small communities that suffer.
Sir Walter Scott was one of the bravest, most inspiring men who ever lived. In his 56th year, failing in health, his wife dying of an incurable disease and seriously in debt, Scott wrote: “I often wish that I could lie down and sleep without waking. But I will fight it out if I can.”
Perhaps it’s worth remembering that when we’re in trouble, we usually want God to remove the problem –whereas he’s more inclined to help us to use adversity to make us stronger.
Jesus faced the enormous challenges of that first Easter with a strong, quiet resolve to trust his Heavenly Father explicitly. That trust was well-placed. God never let him down. And so, the culmination of the troubles he faced was resurrection – and victory!
In similar vein, God will never let us down if we have the courage to seek his will, to pray and allow him to guide us through.
That’s what Jesus did. And that must be good enough for us all!