As I write, we have just been reminded, as a people and a nation of the great evil that exists in the world. Twenty- two people, including young children, have been killed in a terrorist incident at a concert in Manchester. The impact of the attack will be felt far and wide, as a generation of young people who have perhaps not been aware of such incidents suddenly wonder what is around the corner. Is it safe to go to a place or event that would, until today, have appeared safe?
We in Northern Ireland, or at least those of a certain generation, are only too aware of the lasting impact of terrorism and evil. We recognise that while the memory for the wider public will fade, for those connected, those who are injured, those who have lost loved ones, the pain will never disappear.
We all at different times and stages in our life have to deal with pain and loss. Often it comes at us in unexpected ways and from a direction that is not anticipated. As Christians, we are not immune from suffering. Just because we follow Christ, it does not mean that we will have an easy life.
So where do we turn, how do we cope in such circumstances?
Paul, in the opening of his second letter to the Corinthians, tells us that it is from God he gets his comfort. It is only having experienced such comfort that Paul is in turn able to bless and comfort others. The same is true for us as Christians – we can give comfort to those around us. However, in doing so, we need to be careful that we are neither glib nor giving platitudes that everything will simply be okay. Eugene Peterson reminds us that in Lamentations we see “suffering … is not an ominous disaster to be avoided but a difficult, healing operation to be accepted” and in it we see a pool of light that points us to God.
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.
So in a week where the world has been shocked again by terrorism and sorrow and fear, as Christians, let us share the comfort that God has blessed us with, with those whom we meet that need comforted.
Yours in His service,