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A precious gift from God

We have had an addition to our family. Our youngest daughter gave birth three weeks ago to her first child, a little boy. My wife and I are thankful to God that they are both safe and well. This baby is a precious gift from God. We have seen him but have not yet held him because of the present restrictions. We are thankful for the excellent care our daughter received from the consultant and midwife during her pregnancy and, especially, their skills during a difficult delivery.

During our daughter’s pregnancy it was lovely to see the scan photos of the baby in the womb and to see him growing and developing. Those photos reminded us of King David’s words in Psalm 139, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful; I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Every human life is precious and little babies are vulnerable and dependent. We are praying for our daughter and son-in-law to have wisdom as they bring up their son. We do not know what the future holds for them or for this world. But whatever the future holds we know that God is faithful and that he is the One who guides both the history of the world and our personal histories. A Christian song says, “I know who holds the future and he’ll guide me with his hand. With God things don’t just happen everything by him is planned. So as I face tomorrow, with its problems large and small, I’ll trust the God of miracles, give to him my all.”

The birth of a little boy in Bethlehem, more than 2000 years ago, brought light to this dark world. His birth was the dawn of hope and a revelation of God’s love for the peoples of the world. One of the best-known verses in the Bible says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” We pray that our new grandson will one day realise God’s love for him in Jesus and receive the gift of eternal life.

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Thought

When bad things happen

What do we do when bad things happen? A dear friend of ours recently had surgery for cancer. This is not the first time she has had to undergo surgery and now the disease has returned. Since she was first diagnosed and treated she has had regular check-ups and the latest tests revealed the need for further surgery. She and her husband and young daughter know it is a serious situation. How have they responded to this difficult situation? The words of a simple Christian chorus help us to understand how they have responded to this “bad thing” that is happening to them and how we, too, can face similar situations.

“Be still and know that I am God.” Most of us are caught up in the busyness of life. There’s no time to stop and think. When we know we have a serious illness, it is a time to be still. The world rushes on, but we withdraw to quietly reflect on our situation. From her childhood, growing up in Eastern Europe, our friend has known God. She knows that it was God who knit her together in her mother’s womb and that he ordained all the days of her life before one of them came to be. She is in the gracious and loving hands of her heavenly Father just as much now as she was before the disease returned.

“I am the Lord who healeth thee.” Our friend is very thankful for the skill and dedication of the medical teams and for all they have done and are doing. Like them, she knows that there are mysteries in the treatment of serious diseases. Even though patients are given the same treatment, the outcomes may be different. She knows that it is the Lord who heals all our diseases. She has experienced his gracious healing in the past and knows he can do it again.

“In thee, O Lord, I put my trust.” Most of us like to be in control of our lives and feel disorientated when things happen that are too big for us to handle. Our friend has quietly and confidently put her trust in Jesus, her Lord and Saviour. She does not know what the future holds, but she knows that there is nothing in all creation that is able to separate her from God’s love for her in Jesus. So, she is consciously trusting in her Lord to give her sufficient courage so that now, as always, he will be exalted in her life.

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Thought

Love in action in Afghanistan

Last week 10 members of a medical team, working with the Christian organization International Assistance Mission, were shot dead in Afghanistan. One of those who died was a British doctor, Karen Woo. She died alongside 6 American and 1 German colleagues, and 2 Afghan interpreters, as they provided eye care in remote villages in North East Afghanistan.

The motive for the killing is unclear. The Taliban have claimed they were killed because they were Christian missionaries who were telling people about Jesus Christ. Others think the motive was robbery because all their possessions were taken. Whatever the motive, it was an act of mindless evil. International Assistance Mission has worked in Afghanistan since 1966 and provides medical care to ¼ million Afghans each year.

Karen Woo had given up a well-paid job, with BUPA, to work in Afghanistan for minimal financial reward. Her motive for doing this was a desire to improve the lives of ordinary Afghans and spread the word about their plight. On a visit to Kabul in 2009 she gained an insight into how the lives of ordinary Afghan people are being affected by the conflict. She knew that working in Afghanistan put her life in real danger. She was due to be married in 2 weeks time.

The murder of these people was an irrational act. The team was bringing desperately needed medical care to many people who will now have no one to help them. Our own reactions can also sometimes be irrational. We react against the God who made us. We feel, mistakenly, that our lives are better without him, yet every day he showers his blessings indiscriminately on us all.

The lives of the medical team were a powerful testimony to the difference Jesus Christ makes. They were willing to put their lives in danger in order to enrich the lives of others. They came alongside people of another nation and religion to show Christian love to them.

The example of this team reminds us of Jesus himself. He went around “doing good.” He brought healing and hope to many people and restored sight to blind people. Ultimately he came “not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” As he hung on the cross he prayed, “Father forgive them.” Those who live and serve in the same spirit remind us of him and make this world a better place.