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In her Monday morning message to the pastoral team Jane Coates encourages them (and us) to stand firm

13 October 2020

Every Monday Jane Coates writes Monday thoughts and prayers for the Pastoral Care Team. This is something she has done every week since May 3rd. Here Jane shares the message she wrote and sent out on 28th September. 

Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous and strong and do everything with love. 1 Corinthians 16 v 13-14 

It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us and He has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first instalment that guarantees everything He has promised us. 2 Corinthians 1 v 21-22  

When tragic hits and our circumstances are unstable, challenging, uncertain, scary, isolating and bleak- what can we do? Where do we go for strength, perspective and understanding? What is there to keep us on track and to prevent us folding and crumpling? 

When Phil and I experienced a very bleak time in our family we held on to the knowledge that God is faithful, that God is constant and loving and that God is completely trustworthy. We stood firm in the knowledge that He had always been our faithful God through the many years that we had walked with him. This was the foundation stone on which we planted our feet. As He had been with us in the past- He would be with us now and on into the future. We planted our feet and we stood firm.  

Covid days may make us feel isolated and anxious. It is hard to meet with family, friends and church friends. We may know of those who may have received a difficult diagnosis, an uncertain time with employment, a financial concern, tensions in a relationship, a troubling family situation or mental wellbeing issues. How do we stand firm during these times and help others to stand firm? 

I appreciate the tributes that were recently paid to Chadwick Boseman, the Black Panther Marvel star, who died suddenly, at the age of 43, after his four year battle with cancer. During those 4 years he was able to stand firm. He had never discussed his illness publicly and had continued to work on blockbuster films throughout his treatment and surgeries during that period. He was standing firm without drawing attention to his very real concerns. For that, he is a superhero. 

Chadwick had openly spoken about his faith in God during difficult times. On one occasion, he had been selected for a role in a soap opera that involved playing the role of a stereotypical black man. After questioning the producers on the portrayal of the character he was dismissed from the role. He trusted that his disappointment would lead to other opportunities. When he addressed a group of graduating students at Howard University in 2018, he spoke of his faith, quoted Jeremiah 29 v 11, and spoke of God’s purpose being the essential element of who you are. “You are on this planet, at this particular time in history and your very existence is wrapped up in the things you are here to fulfil. Whatever you choose for your career path, remember the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose.” 

After his death, the NAACP one of the leading civil rights groups in the US wrote, “ for showing us how to conquer adversity with grace, for showing us how to ‘say it loud’, for showing us how to walk as a king without losing the common touch, for showing us just how powerful we are. Thank you.” 

The encouragement in these difficult days is to stand firm but not in our own strength but in God’s strength. To fix your feet. Instead of giving us strength to face whatever situation we need to face, He becomes our strength. It is His strength. Strength made perfect in weakness. 

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