Lent: the time of year when we think about struggle, both personal and against evil. Everyone experiences hardship; our world is full of difficulty, both global and closer to home. We may be grieving, we may be worrying, if we look deeply there is probably never a time when we have nothing to concern us and so, at Lent and especially on Ash Wednesday, we give ourselves the chance to consider difficulty within a Christian background.
There is much in the Bible to reassure us however that can feel like little comfort when you’ve just received bad news. When we are in the middle of being bullied, or when someone dies we can feel a long way removed from the Bible but it’s not God’s message that fails to help, rather it is misunderstanding or mistiming. Telling someone that hard times are, ‘part of God’s plan’ isn’t necessarily helpful when they are consumed with fear or misery; just being there is what is important. Equally, when faced with endless news reports about war, famine or even visiting a children’s ward in a hospital it can be challenging to think how this fits in God’s world. What we need to be clear about is that bad things are bad. Evil is evil and God doesn’t wish it on us. He didn’t have a predestined plan for us that included suffering but, through faith, God strengthens us and, one thing is certain, whatever we encounter, God loves us so much that He will work it into His plan for us. He will love and guide us through the difficulties and celebrate the good things with us too.
Romans 8:28 (ESV) And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.