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TROUBLES

Last week I told of two remarkable experiences that I had had of generosity. This week, not so good, a tale of troubles.

I recently noticed a bad scrape on the front near-side bumper of the car. Not guilty! At least I don’t remember doing it myself, and don’t know how, when or where it was done. Regardless, I booked it in to be resprayed at a local vehicle paint-shop: £180.

I drove home one day through a veritable cloudburst. The next day I found that the carpet in the foot-well of the off-side back seat was awash with water. No sign of any leak in the door or window. Where was it coming from? Since then the water has gone on coming in. Every day I squeeze out several sponge-fulls, and it goes on coming, even on a dry day. The garage tells me that it is a fault with this model, that the back bumper and some of the other bodywork has to be taken apart in order to clear some pipe that drains the chassis.

Who knows how much that will cost?

Last Thursday, as I was writing this blog, there was a sound like a car crash in the kitchen. The washing machine was on and doing its final spin when there was this sound of banging metal. I rushed out and switched the whole thing off, opened the door, took out the clothes, and found that the drum was broken and immobile. The mechanic is coming today, and I can only expect him to say, “You will have to get a new one.”

They say that troubles never come singly, and it never rains but it pours. These bills in the run up to Christmas will certainly not be met by our pensions. It is not the end of the world. (This is not a plea for crowd funding!) We have some modest savings to cover these sorts of eventualities. But it has brought home to me that no-one is that far from financial trouble.

We have got used to the idea that the Welfare State and Rishi Sunak will always bail us out if we are in trouble, with benefits, furloughs or fuel subsidies, but there are limits to what the Government can do. Back in July I wrote about the wild-fire that swept through our old village in Norfolk, in which 11 families had lost their homes and all their possessions. The churches and the village rallied round, family or friends took them in, and quantities of clothes and utensils were given to tide them over. Where they will all be left financially in the end I don’t know. But, in greater or lesser ways, many of us are going to encounter financial troubles in the course of our lives, even in the 21st Century and even in the developed world. That’s life. But Jesus said to his followers about the necessities of life, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” It is a promise that I have lived by for over 60 years, and God has not let me down yet.

There are obviously other sorts of trouble, like diseases and broken relationships. Again, only too often these troubles seem to pile up at certain times in our lives. Again I turn to words from Scripture: Psalm 46.1 says, ”God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” It may not be that we always see miraculous answers to our prayers though, if we are aware of it, we can often see signs of his good providence. But he is present, and he will help us and strengthen us. Troubles are never easy, by definition, but we are not alone. We have a Creator and Redeemer who loves us. One of our old church-members was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease which was already advanced. Being told this by the doctor, he replied, “God see me though.”

On his tomb-stone it says, “God saw him through.”

­­­_____


Next week: my response to the Bishop of Oxford’s Essay on homosexuality and the church.

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