We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged.
I have sacrificed my afternoon for you to come in out of the glorious Devon sunshine and write this. Although, to be honest, I think I was just getting to that stage where someone was about to say - "You look a bit red" and you realise that your skin feels a bit sting-y. It's a bit weird here because the heat and a cloudless sky are accompanied by a near gale force breeze. (Hence the photo above - Californian Poppies - not blurry but blowy)
We are all in full GCSE mode still. Anyone with offspring will know that exams are not just confined to the person taking them. Everyone else in the family is either helping revision, or being supportive or trying to make sure everyone is happy or worrying or all of the above.
Like most sane people, I am a great believer in education. Education is how people learn things. Some things may prove to be more useful than others. But, whether it's being taught why Sylvia Plath didn't just cheer up a bit and have a Magnum in the garden, or what difference it makes to you that two men digging a hole in Whitby take an hour to do it if they use bigger spades, education is a "good thing", I think we all agree.(That's a statement - not a question - Fruit of Womb Two!)
Education though, takes many different forms. I saw some in action this week when I was walking to work. A dad was walking his little girl to school and she was unhappy. Very unhappy. She toddled along behind him, lunch box in one hand, school case in the other, sobbing her little heart out. She did not want to walk. Her dad then turned round and quietly said, "Act your age, you need to walk, it's not very far." He then took her case and her lunch box from her and pressed on to school with a very vocal little person following behind. She was such a little chicken, I wondered why he didn't just scoop her up and carry her - if only for a quiet life.
He was right though, she needed to learn. He was prepared to do everything to help her - taking away her bags - but he wouldn't do it for her. I suppose loads of you are ahead of me now, but I did think how often I have thrown up sulky prayers which go along the lines of "You are God - You can therefore do anything. So why are you not getting me out of this mess?" Sometimes, just to add insult to injury, I will add. "You say you are supposed to love me. hah" Slightly embarrassed but it's true.
I do know though, that the idea is that I am supposed to learn from God. I am supposed to mature and to grow into someone who looks as though they have spent time with someone who is better than them and whose wisdom and goodness is having an impact. This will not happen if I get lifted out of every crisis, many of which are of my own making, like some kind of spiritual episode of the A Team. This is not to say that God doesn't intervene miraculously, and that we are not to ask for that. When I was very ill a few years ago, a "well meaning" Christian person informed me that God was not our "all bases rescuer" I had two things to say to that - fairly graciously actually.
a) That's very easy for you to say as you are not the one with the life threatening diagnosis
b) I think he is just that - my all bases rescuer. Just not always the way I would want him to be.
It's all a learning process and sometimes it's painful. We still have to go though things - lots of things. There are times when, although I suspect that nothing would make God happier than scooping us up and carrying us through life; the wisdom of God means that all he does is take our Marvel Avengers lunchbox from us, so that the load is a bit lighter and encourage us from the sidelines.
This made me think about Tim Vine gently satirising the "Footprints" poem. (he is a Christian and it is therefore allowed) You know the bit when the Christian asks - "Why Lord, when things were most difficult are there only one set of footprints?" and Jesus answers
"My beloved child, when you look back and see one set of footprints, it is then I should tell you that at that point I had decided that it might be more fun to hop!"
Have a good week. One last thing - if you haven't voted for Sherlock at the BAFTAS, I will not be very pleased. You know who you are. PS Will actually also accept a vote for Great British Bake off.