Recently I heard it yet again...
A person in pain. A person stumbling through a 'dark night of the soul'. Things are bleak. And this person is told that their faith is too frail. It is too fragile. 'You need a stronger faith'.
I am not convinced. That is cruel. It is unkind. It is bad advice.
The wonderful thing about following Jesus is that there are times when things get frail - but that is OK. Things are not dependent on our frailty but on God's strength. We may lose our hold of him -but he does not lose his hold of us. That is our hope. In Christian conversation today 'hope' just does not grab enough headlines. During those long 'dark nights' the way forward is not so much about mustering up a stronger faith as it is meditating on a certain hope. That is the key.
As we do so let's be inspired by the way God designs the world.
Into the rhythm of a 24hr period he places the darkness of midnight and the lightness of dawn. Dawn always comes. That is a certain hope. In fact, as Bono expresses it, 'midnight is where the dawn begins'. Into the rhythm of the 365day period he places the cold of winter and the warmth of summer. The warmth always comes. That is a certain hope.
And this is the way God designs our lives as we walk with him. Dawn and warmth always comes. And I do mean 'always' ... but then God follows an eternal planner, rather than an annual one and so he may work more slowly than we'd like. And as God walks with these people so also do we need to walk with them through the dark and the cold until the light and the warmth emerges.