A few years ago now, I signed up for the monthly newsletter from Care for the Family. It is a Christian charity that seeks to promote strong family life and helps those who face difficulties. The mums and babies’ bible study group that I belonged to had been doing their parenting course. That month the newsletter came with an extra postcard. It looked like a marketing insert with an inspirational picture and a few pertinent words that was meant to encourage a donation. You know the sort of thing that after hanging around in a pile of papers for a few days then goes into the recycling.
This postcard however was not one to cast out but one to keep, in view, on the noticeboard in the kitchen. It was a gift of encouragement and in fact, it then moved with us to the remaining six Army quarters (out of twenty four moves in total) to our final move to our own house here in Bath.
The words were from the hymn ‘Great is Thy Faithfulness’ which was written by Thomas Chisholm in 1923. He wrote it about God’s faithfulness over his own lifetime and it was inspired by Lamentations 3: 22 - 23.
‘The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.’
However, on the postcard were words from the hymns’ final verse:
‘Strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.’
The postcard, that would have been recycling, became very precious to me. I am grateful for Care for the Family’s realistic understanding of family life, recognizing that raising children can be an emotional and physical roller coaster. And for sending that postcard out saying that it is OK that challenges and blessings co-exist and that turning to God can help!
These became important words for me to pray - asking for strength to tackle the difficulties of the day; acknowledging the hope that I have in Jesus and that I can trust in him and hand over my worries; thanking God for his love and the blessings I have.
At this time, we faced the uncertainty and constant change that Army life brings. What is the next job? Where will we live? Where will the children go to school? Add to this the complexities of four children each with medical and additional needs. The making plans, organizing appointments, thinking about the next stage was necessary but casting further into the future and the ‘What if’s. . .? ‘ could often lead to me to worry and despair.
I knew Paul’s instruction in Philippians 4:6-7 is to ‘ . . . not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus’.
But even presenting my concerns in prayer made me anxious! So how could I pray when I didn’t really want to use too many words? Enter the timely and inspirational postcard! I prayed for ‘Strength for today, Lord and bright hope for tomorrow.’
These are words words for contemplation and prayer that we can use every day, especially in these current uncertain times – for strength, for hope and thanking God’s for his blessings.
God knows what is in our hearts, he hears our simple words and we can trust in him because:
‘Great is thy faithfulness!
Great is they faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness Lord unto me!’