Amazingly I have been at Honington for a year! I arrived as the first Lockdown was well established, and am now beginning to see glimpses of the ‘old’ Honington with social events being planned and hoped for, people who have been working from home starting to come back into their workplaces – even if it is to collect their new laptop (!) – and the trees beginning to grow their green leaves again!
Now I know that the trees probably were not impacted by all the lockdowns as most of us were, but it is a sure sign that things are changing, and the seasons continue in their cycle. As someone who loves the summer, the seasonal cycle is a promise that I hold on to every year as we journey through the dark days of winter as it keeps me focused on what is still to come, a sentiment that is echoed in the Bible.
I am reminded that although sometimes we get low and grumpy (who? me?!) there will always be something different on the horizon…usually better too. There is a wonderful story in the Old Testament about a man called Job (pronounced as though there is an e on the end). He went thorough all sorts of trials and traumas, his friends were no help to him either; his life on the face of is was pretty hopeless. But he remained hopeful, and faithful to God, but hopeful to what was to come. He endured all sorts of horrors, and yet continued to press ahead and live as though his tribulations were not permanent. His story ends when he was very old! When he came out the good side of his troubles, it is said that he lived 140 more years and was prosperous in his old age; he had been faithful throughout suffering, and was blessed beyond measure.
I’m not for one moment suggesting I am in anyway worthy of being compared to Job, but I do sometimes feel that when I have got through the winter in one piece…I could live for 140 years!
So there is some kind of poetic justice to my thoughts this season as I will be heading away on deployment this summer, to a location that will be experiencing winter while I am there…3 back-to-back winters for me in 2021! Can you imagine how I will feel this time NEXT year when I will be able to enjoy a proper summer not in lockdown again?!
As the deployment date approaches, I feel myself drawn back to the stories I have known so well in the Bible: women and men who have been faithful to God and who have endured great hardships. I am drawn to the nature of their persistence, resilience and patience, not losing sight that at times they felt angry and despondent, but that in their strivings they too continued to be drawn back to a faithful God. I know that deployment experiences vary from person, and even from location to location; so I am approaching my preparation with an open mind, and seeking to embrace winter in a new place even. Seeking to arrive in that place as a faithful Christian, a faithful Padre, and a faithful friend – unlike Jobs friends were to him.
Maybe you are feeling a bit like Job and that all seems to be going wrong or you are simply not able to feel hopeful; if that is the case do not struggle on your own, there is a wealth of help and support for you on station. SSAFA, BEN Fund, Hive, Chaplaincy, formal Welfare routes, military charities to name a few. Reach out for help if you need to.
As always, at the Chaplaincy we continue to pray for you and are available to you should you need us.