The calendar year is drawing to a close. It has been a year of transitions and adjustments. There have been atrocities in Manchester and Las Vegas (and all too many other places). The Trump administration has recognised Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, and conflicts continue with North Korea.
In Matthew 24: 6-7 Jesus said that this would be the state of the world until His return. “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.” But so it has been for most years in the intervening centuries.
I will leave the eschatology for another occasion, but would like to here focus on the effects of these things on us as individuals. This has indeed been a sorrowful year with unexpected personal tragedies (such as Manchester). Let us remember to pray for these families even after the news stories have faded from our radios and screens!
Personally, I have only just learned of the death of a friend a few days before Christmas. Again my prayers are with his wife and family. I have also been dealing with the aftermath of my wife’s battle with cancer (which for now she is winning), but the fatigue and post-radiation complications persist. It has made her more reliant on prayer. Prayer is a great strengthener, and we need to remember that rather than to count on our own powers and devices.
I have had the opportunity to preach the word of God more this year. I have been able as well to continue my studies of scripture and to share my findings on this blog. I continue to teach, and I hope I have been able to kindle a fire of inquiry into things divine in my students. Here too, let us resolve to be “ready in season and out of season.”
I have had the pleasure of two cruise holidays, and been able to make a pilgrimage to Santiago. Though at the same time, I have been saddened (along with the world) by the Barcelona tragedies (the terrorist attack during my first cruise and the crackdown on the region by the central government during the second). But isn’t that the nature of life? Joy and peace tempered by sorrow.
Solomon captured this well in Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8,
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
The year has also allowed me a chance to get to know (at least in the community of the blogosphere) many of you. I have been enriched and uplifted by many of your posts, and shared in your triumphs and woes. I thank you for allowing me to share in your lives in this way.