When life gets complicated we need a simple truth to hold onto.
When life weighs heavy we need something to bouy us up.
And this week I have found a simple truth. May I share it with you?
I found it in our home schooling. We have been focusing on Remembrance Sunday, and what it is that we are remembering. It has been difficult to contemplate: the horrors of war in its differing kinds; the sacrifice of so many; the bravery of ordinary folk in out of the ordinary circumstances; the international push and pull of power that can lead to life-changing devastation; the potential within humanity to commit unspeakable atrocities and justify them for a greater cause.
But we have noticed how these things have woven throughout the history of humankind, and not just our recent history.
They are repeating patterns.
Because we are living through a turbulent, unexpected, unsettling period of history of our own, aren’t we? And a word that has been used so much has been ‘unprecedented’. And this, seems to me, is the opposite of a pattern.
Covid – unprecedented. Lockdowns – unprecedented. Partygate – unprecedented. War in Ukraine – unprecedented. Economic crisis – unprecedented. 3 Prime ministers in a handful of months – unprecedented. Climate crisis – unprecedented.
We explored this period of history last year.
Social unrest was high as Civil War raged. Extreme weather conditions were causing hardship with some summers feeling like winter and the River Thames freezing over. Outbreaks of plague were causing fear and panic, and curfews were in place to try and stop the spread. Economic hardship increased due to the ‘war’ at home and there had been war in central Europe for 30 years. And in 1657, Cromwell, as Lord Protector of England (having beheaded the King), danced, drank and feasted at his daughter’s wedding after Parliament had previously banned these very things for everyone else.
So, unprecedented? Really? No, as it turns out.
But patterns? Yes. As a brief look at history shows us, there really are patterns.
And that actually makes me feel hopeful.
Because ‘unprecedented’ makes it all about me – ‘I’ve not been here before and I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to navigate and I might get it all wrong and it’s all just too much – aarghh!’
God has been here before.
And that is the simple truth I have found this week when I have needed something to still my soul.
If God has been here before then He knows what to do! Phew! It isn’t new to Him or news to Him.
And it’s not all up to me to fix, solve, understand, handle on my own. Though I may have a part to play.
I don’t have to feel crushed by the ‘unprecedentedness’ of everything.
My hope is in God.
And God has been here before.
If you would like to sit with this simple truth awhile longer please do click the link below which will take you to a song called Patterns by Christian artist Josh Garrels (apologies if there are some ads)
Have a listen and let your thoughts roam –
- what sorts of patterns can you hear in the music – nice ones, jarring ones, comfortable ones,
- what sorts of patterns can you recognise in your life – good ones, not so good ones, any God ones?
- what kinds of patterns can you see in the world around you, that have repeated through history?
- Does it help to remember God has been here before, with you in the repeating patterns of your life, and with humanity through the repeating patterns of history?
Take some time.
Take your time.
And as you sit with your thoughts may the One who has seen all and knows all, who has been here before, comfort and strengthen you as you have need.