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Commentary

Hanging tough with a smile

We need to be resilient as Christians these days.

John Benton, Editor

Figure Image

But it’s possible to do that in an unChrist-like way. Spurgeon tells a wonderful story about a hard-headed Christian leader who was rather unwavering and grim. He describes a man travelling by train, who was putting his head out of the carriage window to see the way ahead. When the guard came along, recognising the man and seeing him with his head out of the window, he spoke up saying: ‘You must not put your head out.’ ‘Why is that?’ said the clergyman. ‘There is some ironwork under one of the bridges,’ replied the guard ‘and it might get damaged if your head struck it.’

Thankfully not all church leaders are like that. (Though some are !)

National Trust

Not all is gloom and doom for the gospel these days. But some things are quite depressing, not least, for example, the fact that this year the National Trust plans to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexual practices but, as far as en has been able to ascertain, has nothing scheduled to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation which shaped our history and doubtless touched on many of their properties. Such things are galling, even offensive to many Christians, but of course the politically-correct powers-that-be have no concern about offending the followers of the Lord Jesus.

However, whereas we might lament the way our country is going in our prayers before God, it will do us no good to become grim and hard in our stance for Christ. In fact it might help us much more to rejoice and even to laugh a little, especially as the Lord is on the throne and working out his purposes. The Lord laughs at his opponents (Psalm 2) and Proverbs 17.22 tells us that ‘A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones’.

Rubber ducks

I was reminded of this not too long ago. There had been an incident and a young ex-pat Christian worker, Phoebe, not long in the country, had ended up in a rural prison in Asia. The only Westerner in the women’s wing, sharing a cell with four local women, she was far from home, cut off from fellowship and terribly alone. Sometimes we need to hang tough for Christ. A colleague, Veronica, found out where she was and visited. She brought encouragement through kindness, God’s Word and prayer. And it strengthened Phoebe, making all the difference.

Veronica knew the power of humour and one thing she did was to give her young friend a tiny rubber duck that quacked when you squeezed it. It raised a smile. When Phoebe got back to the cell, the local women looked quizzically at the duck. Then Phoebe made it quack and they all fell about laughing. Could they each have one? On another visit Veronica brought in some more. The women were delighted. Soon after, Veronica was visiting the prison again to see Phoebe. As she approached, the guard frowned and looked at her quite sternly. She pretended not to notice. Then just as Veronica came up, suddenly she heard ‘quack, quack’. She looked up. There was the guard with a great big smile and one of the rubber ducks! They both laughed. Veronica’s visits had not only strengthened Phoebe spiritually, she had bridged a gap and brought a new atmosphere to this sad prison.

(By the way, the story has a happy ending – not too long after, everything was sorted out and Phoebe released).