For many of us 2020 will have been one of the worst years that we can remember. I for one will be very happy to welcome in
2021! We have seen extreme weather events as well as the global pandemic which brought months of lock-down and economic
crisis. As I write this I am aware that there are still four months of 2020 left, and I wonder what they will bring!

The events of this year have shattered our illusion that we are in control: we do not know if there will be a second wave of
infections; we don’t know what will happen to the economy, our savings (if we are fortunate enough to have any) or our children’s

2020 has brought home to us the uncomfortable truth that we were never in control of our world or of what happens to us. Some
Christians have proclaimed that these events are the herald of ‘The End’. But when we take a look at history we see that for
hundreds and hundreds of years God’s people have faced unexpected disasters: plagues, floods, hurricanes, droughts. This is
simply the reality of life for most of the people of our world for most of history.

The Bible and Christian thinkers have seen times like these as times of testing: not that God sends these terrible events - this is
just what life is like in this broken and fallen world. Peter, writing to Christians facing torture and execution at the hands of the
Roman authorities says, “you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith - being more precious than
gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire - may be found to result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed”
(1 Peter 1:6-7).

You only know whether gold is genuine when it is tested by fire. And just as fire reveals genuine gold, so when we face the tests
and trials of life, reveal the genuineness of our faith by drawing us closer to God our Father.

When we face the tests of life, it is not a sign that God has abandoned us. It is an opportunity to grow in faith; to trust that God is
with us right through the storm; right through the valley of the shadow. Often we cannot control what happens to us, but we can
choose how we will respond.

The God of the Bible, the God who meets us in Jesus is a God of the Cross and the Resurrection. The Cross tells us that God
has not and never will abandon us whatever trials, problems and adversities we face we do not face them alone. The
Resurrection tells us that God will ultimately triumph, even when the forces of chaos seem to have won.

2020 has been a very hard year for so many people throughout the world. When the storms batter us, we have to decide where -
or in whom - we will put our trust.

The words of Psalm 23 have been very close to me throughout this year:

God bless you,

Thought for the Month
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You spread a table before me
in the presence of those who trouble me;
you have anointed my head with oil
and my cup shall be full.
Surely goodness and loving mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.