The peace that passes all understanding

On a recent Songs of Praise programme Simon Thomas spoke about the way in which God has given him strength since his wife Gemma died in November 2017. Simon became well-known to millions of people as a Blue Peter presenter before moving to Sky Sports news, becoming a lead presenter of Football League and Premier League programmes. In November 2017 his wife Gemma, who was also a Christian, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia and died just 3 days later. Simon and his 8-year-old son, Ethan, were devasted. At that time Simon said, “Today I am crushed with indescribable pain. If you pray – please pray for my boy Ethan, precious and in bits.”

On Songs of Praise Simon said he had never truly understood the “peace that passes all understanding.” He said, “I just thought it was a nice place to be, but actually it’s because you feel that sense of peace in almost impossible situations in which to find peace.” In the three days after Gemma was diagnosed, he said, “Everything’s coming at you – we’re wondering what on earth acute myeloid leukaemia is, and is she going to survive? Yet I experienced peace, amidst the noise and fear, that gives me the hope that one day I’m going to see her again.”

Simon continued, “The story of what Jesus did on the cross is what my faith is based on, and yet at times that’s impossible to get your head around and to draw comfort from. At times I’ve literally been holding on by one finger to my faith because it gives direction to everything else. It was the glue in our marriage, and it helps in terms of how we, and now I, bring up Ethan. You know, it’s the reference point for my life.

A hymn was sung at the Thanksgiving Service for Gemma which was also sung at Simon and Gemma’s wedding. The words of the hymn meant a lot to both Simon and Gemma and have given Simon strength since Gemma died. “In Christ alone my hope is found, he is my light, my strength, my song. This Cornerstone, this solid Ground firm through the fiercest drought and storm. No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me. From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny. No power of hell, no scheme of man, can ever pluck me from his hand, till he returns or calls me home here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.”

The Loving Hand that Guides

The success of Chelsea in the Champions League Final was unexpected, but brought great happiness to their many supporters. It was interesting to hear what the commentators said as Chelsea fought back and then went on to win the penalty shoot out as their goalkeeper saved three out of the six penalties he faced. The commentators said, “It looks as if their name is on the cup this year,” and “The result was written in the stars.” The conclusion seemed to be that they were destined to win the cup whatever their opponents did!

Many people are superstitious. They believe in fate and destiny, although it is by no means clear who or what determines this. In some parts of the world people believe their lives are dominated by unseen spirits and they live in fear of offending them. If something bad happens they offer sacrifices to appease the spirits. As the influence of Christianity has declined in Western Europe, there has been a big increase in the number of mediums and the people who consult them. Horoscopes and astrology are now popular. People want to know what is going to happen in the future.

The Bible teaches us that there is one true and living God who is all powerful and all wise. He is a personal God who sovereignly directs the world he has made. He rules in such a way that our decisions and actions matter and make a difference. We are not robots, nor are we at the mercy of blind fate. Our lives are not under the care of someone who acts on whim or out of malevolence. God is good and always acts justly. He is love and is the source of all that is good and beautiful.

One of the great privileges we can all enjoy is to live in daily fellowship with the living God, who has revealed himself in his Son, Jesus Christ. This gives meaning and purpose to our lives and guarantees that everything that happens brings us nearer to the day when we shall see him and be with him forever in heaven. The hymn writer, Anne Ross Cousin, wrote, “With mercy and with judgement my web of time he wove, and aye the dews of sorrow were lustred with his love: I’ll bless the hand that guided, I’ll bless the heart that planned, when throned where glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.”