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There are so many things with which we are bombarded in the News that I simply do not understand, and one of them is this problem of illegal immigration.

We have a long history in this country of welcoming refugees fleeing from persecution and war. We welcomed Jews in the 1930s, fleeing Nazi Germany. In the 1970s we welcomed Ugandan Asians, fleeing the regime of Idi Armin. This very year we have welcomed Ukrainian refugees, fleeing the war in their own country. All this is good. It is part of loving our neighbour: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Matthew 25.35)

But illegal immigrants crossing the channel in small boats is another matter. It is clear that this is a criminal operation, in some cases exploiting the needs of genuine refugees from countries like Syria and Afghanistan, but also smuggling people, especially young single men, into Britain for purely economic or criminal reasons. Why can’t we stop all this? Why can’t we put the young men from stable countries like Albania on the next plane home? I do not begin to understand it.

I have discovered over the last few years that I am not very good at dealing with frustration, whether over things like immigration or other things nearer home, like Covid lockdowns. I tend to fret and fume. So how can we deal with frustration? We seem to live today in a culture that expects there to be a quick fix for all life’s evils, medical, political, financial, judicial, whatever. It is a lie. Whether we like it or not, there is no quick fix for the suffering and evil in the world. We have to learn to live with it.

I guess that this is the first thing to recognise: that there are many things in life that we can’t change. We live in a fallen world in which there is much suffering and much evil, and we can’t change it. We see so much suffering throughout the world about which we can do nothing. So what can we do to avoid or relieve our frustration? It is not rocket science: we can do whatever we can to help those around us: to love our neighbours as ourselves, serve others, give whatever help we can. Some of this suffering inevitably falls on each of us in one form or another at some time in our lives, perhaps throughout our lives. But we can still devote ourselves as much as we can to helping and serving others.

There are other matters about which there are other people, particularly leaders, who can do something to change the world. For them we can pray: for wisdom, courage, perseverance, inspiration. And, of course, we can always pray for miracles. We worship a God of miracles who has performed miracles, in the national and international, as well as the personal sphere. In bringing these things to the feet of God we can perhaps leave them there for him to deal with in his almighty wisdom and almighty power. But it is not all going to come right in this world, and we must be prepared to suffer, as individuals, as a society, as a nation, as a race.

But lastly, we can, as always, look forward to the life of the world to come. “In the shadow of your wings will I take refuge, until this storm has passed by.’ (Psalm 57.2) It will pass by. “Everything passes; God never changes.” (Teresa of Avila). One day, “All shall be well; and all shall be well; and all manner of things shall be very well.” (Julian of Norwich)


Next week; Generosity is not dead.

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