Thought for the Week

by Rev Richard Watson, All Saints, Ilkley

NOVEMBER is a month that we particularly associate with Remembrance and with Courage in its many expressed ways. For many, the courage of our war heroes is specially commemorated, whilst for others, the courage of those facing or overcoming personal adversity may be s celebrated. Many stories of courage are brought to us through the BBC Children in Need appeal, which makes us aware of the immediacy of situations of apparent despair that have been totally transformed by courage, hope and perseverance.

Within the past few days we have witnessed the courage of the people of Paris as they have faced the bombing outrage in their city. They have been an inspiration and encouragement to one another as they have come together to support one another through the darkest of times.

I own a New Testament that was presented to a family member serving in H.M. Forces during the Second World War, with a message from H.M.King George VI, which on the inside cover reads: “To all serving in my Forces by sea, or land, or in the air; and indeed to all my people engaged in the defence of the Realm. I commend the reading of this book. For centuries, the Bible has been a wholesome and strengthening influence in our national life, and it behoves us in these momentous days to turn with renewed faith to this Divine source of hope and inspiration. Therefore “Be strong and of good courage for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1v9)

What wonderful words of encouragement!

This message of hope is also relevant to each one of us today as we face our own individual struggles, or uncertainties. God’s word can speak to us today through our reading of the scriptures as well as through the exemplary lives of people around us today, who live sacrificially, or who show extraordinary courage in the face of difficulty, deprivation, persecution, or other adversity.

At times we may have to be filled with the courage to take risks ourselves. When we have faith and hope in God, however, we can trust Him to hold us even through fearful times. Our encouragement comes from remembering that God has journeyed with His people down countless centuries, and has revealed Himself to us in the life of Christ, through His birth and earthly ministry, as well as through His death and resurrection.

God has been with His people in the past; He is with us in the “now” and will be with us in the future. Therefore we can take heart, knowing that the Lord is with us and that in Him we can have the courage to face all things.