Food for Thought

GOD IS OUR HELP

Life is not easy at all and, during difficult times, we must dig into God’s Word to get the comfort, encouragement and hope we need.

There are so many things in this world that can make us feel hopeless, disappointed and depressed. Listening to the news is one of them.

I’m writing this article whilst listening to stories being broadcast about a teenage boy who was killed by a man wielding a sword in east London, and police storming a building at Columbia University to remove pro-Palestinian students protesting against the war in Israel.

Whilst we know that news in the media is not particularly positive and upbeat, it’s also a fact that our world is filled with much pain and suffering – whether it’s our own, that of people we know, or in the wider world.

The important question we must ask, however, is what does God have to say about pain and suffering? The good thing is that He says a lot through Scripture, and His Son, Jesus Christ, showed us that good things can come out of suffering.

1 Peter 5:10 makes it clear that suffering builds spiritual resilience and strength: ‘And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.’

James 1:12 highlights that believers who overcome suffering will get a reward from the Lord:

‘Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.’

And 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 emphasises that people can learn great wisdom that can be shared with others during times of suffering: ‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.’

When you serve God, no experience is wasted – even if it is a time in one’s life, filled with more shame than pain, even our mistakes. Paul wrote in Romans 8:28 – ‘And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.’

Life can be hard and challenging times will come, however, when we recognise God is with us, and that His Word contains all we need to overcome our difficulties, we’ll come out the other side spiritually strengthened and joyous.

WINDRUSH GENERATION VALUES

As Windrush Day approaches, it’s a good time to reflect on the values espoused by those Caribbean people who answered the British government’s call to come and rebuild war-torn Britain.

The values they arrived with were rooted in Scripture and reinforced by the churches and homes they grew up in. And they lived them out, passing them on to their children. I’m not sure if the children of the Windrush Generation have done as good a job, but here’s a reminder of some of those sayings and values:

1. People should respect themselves, others and their elders.

2. Individuals should honour their parents and love their family well.

3. Being truthful is a must. Who remembers the old adage ‘A liar becomes a thief’, often uttered by Caribbean parents?

4. “Don’t follow friend” (i.e., don’t hang with people who are negative or lean towards criminal behaviour) and “Know your own mind” (i.e., be an independent thinker).

5. “Don’t be bad mind” (i.e., don’t be spiteful, malicious or jealous).

6. ‘A good name is better than riches’ (Proverbs 22).

7. An individual should value education and be prepared to work hard for what they want.

8. Be generous and do good to others.

9. Love, pray and serve God.

We will and do fall short of living up to these values. If we have lost sight of them and have taken on some of the negative mindsets and behaviours prevalent in modern society, let’s take stock, reflect, and ask God for the strength and grace to re-introduce these age-old, positive and life-affirming values into our lives.

THE STRENGTH OF MEN

Growing up as a child of the Windrush Generation, two-parent families were the norm in the Caribbean community.

Many Black people of my generation have a story to share of the disciplinarian Caribbean father who wasn’t afraid of using physical discipline to keep his children in line. Of course, there are variations to this theme, but there’s no mistaking fathers were a feature of Black family life.

They weren’t perfect, but they were present in their homes – unlike now, where too many children have no experience of being fathered.

As a community we need to be reminded that fathers are necessary. IMHO they are the protective backbone of our community, and their absence from families is one of the reasons we’ve seen a rise in gangs, youth violence and crimes.

Men, like women, are part of God’s glorious creation. Let’s recognise them as such and pray that they are restored to the position they need to be in our homes.

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