17th August 2016
There are seasons in our lives when life is really tough. Perhaps it’s illness or relational breakdown, maybe it’s disappointment or delay, or perhaps it’s the loss of a loved one.
The hardest season in my life was a number of years ago when my Dad passed away (an untimely death due to leukaemia at the age of 55), compounded by my wife having two miscarriages in the course of the following year (one at twelve weeks and one at twenty weeks). Life was really tough and for a number of years I felt like I was living life in greyscale – life had lost its colour. Without God and the friends and community around me, I don’t know how I would have endured that season; they taught me what it means to ‘mourn with those who mourn’ (Romans 12:15). And in the years that have followed it’s been a privilege to see the outworking of what Paul writes about in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 as I’ve been able to support and comfort others:
‘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.’
I can’t remember when I stumbled across the following poem by Annie Johnson Flint, but the truth it conveys has been of enormous encouragement to me. I have found myself giving copies of it or mentioning the words to many others who are in difficult seasons.
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labours increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.
His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
What a difference it makes to know this God of grace, strength and comfort! He’s the God who says, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Corinthians 12:9).
If you’re currently in a difficult season, I’d encourage you seek Him – to trust Him to be all He says He is. The Holy Spirit strengthens and comforts us directly but God also uses friends and those around us as a means of His grace. So ask for help, get people to pray with and for you, don’t isolate yourself, find someone to speak to.
If you’re not going through a difficult season, I encourage you to grow in your relationship with God, to invest in friendships and get increasingly connected in God’s family – build strong foundations and relationships that will serve you well when the storms come.
And let’s all be on the lookout for those who are going through a tough season – to be God’s means of grace and to point them to the One who ‘giveth, and giveth, and giveth again’.
Brett Melville oversees all aspects of Communications at King's. He is married to Jo and they have three young children.
Steve Tibbert will be back in September.
Posted by Brett Melville
Steve Tibbert leads King’s Church London, with sites in Catford, Downham and Lee. Over the past fifteen years the church has seen continued growth, both in size and diversity. Steve is also involved in Newfrontiers and regularly coaches other lead elders. His book, Good to Grow, was published in July 2011. He is married to Deb, and they have three sons.