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3rd November: The Way (11) -- Clouds on the Way

Jesus said: Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. John 14:1

Travelling the Way is no fair-weather jaunt. True, God's sun will shine magnificently at times, and we shall want to sing and step out enthusiastically. But there will also be clouds on the Way and perhaps storms and floods. The Master made this very clear to his disciples, especially as the coming cross began to cast its shadow over him. This was to be a real part of their experience, as of ours, even though we live in the light of his resurrection victory. He spoke to them not only of the clouds gathering over them, but also of reassurance and strength. He wanted them to be prepared for what lay ahead. Some were to face martyrdom (two at least, Peter and Andrew, according to tradition, on a cross). Some were to face persecution and daunting challenge and, in John's case, exile. `In this world you will have trouble', Jesus said, `But take heart! I have overcome the world' (Jn 16:33 NIV).

Still today some who follow the Way face opposition, persecution and even death. For some the pressure is not so hard, but no less real. All may be assured that nothing can separate them from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 8:39). Those who know little of `external' persecution and pressure may still experience the clouds that seem to come less from outside than from inside -- doubts, depression, changing moods, spiritual dryness. We know that these often have a physical basis and may call for medical and/or psychiatric management. They may point to the need for honest spiritual re-thinking.

The vital thing is not to allow them to come between us and God. The Way can be rough, but it is The Way. It will surely get there. Despite feelings, which cannot always be lightly dismissed, faith depends on facts, especially the ultimate fact of the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The English poet, William Cowper, who died in 1800, had more than his share of clouds on the Way. His adult life was dogged by bouts of melancholic insanity. Yet he kept his faith. His hymn `God moves in a mysterious way', written two centuries ago, still retains its appeal. One verse particularly, coming from deep personal experience, should encourage those burdened with clouds on the Way.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye sometimes dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Further reading: Jn 15:18-27, 16:1-4, 20-33. Rom 8:28-39.


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