Faith Matters

Lent reflection: Faith in the tough times - honest communication

In the first of a series of Lent reflections, the Rt Rev George Davison, the Church of Ireland Bishop of Connor, highlights the importance of honest communication with God

Even in the most difficult times, faith can find a foundation in honest open prayer

THERE are times in all our lives when it is relatively easy to be a person of faith.

When life is good, when things are going well, we look to our Creator and offer genuine thanks for the blessings that we experience.

We rejoice in those blessings as signs of God's love and favour, we immerse ourselves in them and our hearts are glad.

But what about the tough times? For many people, that's our current experience of life - days of uncertainty, of frustration, of pressure at work (or because of the lack of it), of not knowing when, or if, some sort of normality will return to our lives.

What does it mean to be a person of faith now? Where is God's blessing today?

Why does he allow us to endure such trials, be they sickness or suffering, insecurity or loss? How do we face these challenging times with our faith in a loving God intact?

Perhaps we even feel guilty for entertaining such thoughts?

Habakkuk, a Jewish prophet of the 7th century BC, may be a surprising source of help to us.

Life was getting him down. The familiar things that held his community together were disappearing and it felt to him as if God was nowhere to be seen.

In the opening verses of the Old Testament book that bears his name, Habakkuk asks the Lord a few straight questions.

"How long are you going to ignore my cries for help?" "Why have you allowed this mess to happen?" "Why won't you do something to sort things out?"

These are not the measured, respectful words that we might think of when we think about prayer.

They are not beautifully written prayers such as we might use together in church.

They are the heartfelt cries of a person of faith who trusts God, but who doesn't understand and probably even feels as if God might be letting him down right now.

For Habakkuk, this is no time for respectful politeness, it is a time for an honest talk with God.

He will speak truthfully about what is on his heart to one he trusts, even if that is a difficult conversation. And he will listen.

That is the kind of communication on which lasting relationships are built. It allows issues to be dealt with and trust to be restored.

It's the honest open prayer on which faith can find a foundation in the most difficult of days. It's a good place to start.

Bishop George Davison's Lent reflections can be found on Facebook.

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Faith Matters