Time for reflection

Every fortnight people from a farming background, or who have a heart for the countryside, offer a personal reflection on faith and rural life. They hope that you will be encouraged by it.

The pandemic has been difficult for many and I personally found being separated from family and friends particularly challenging.

Perhaps, like myself, you found yourself scanning the news for reassurance – impatient for the pandemic to end, or a cure/vaccine to be found, while hoping that all will be well and the economy will recover. Progress has been made, but we still do not have all the answers that we would like.

In our area the dry weather from March to June was very pleasant, although not without problems as many farmers needed rain for crops and grass. It was great to see people in the community being able to get out into the countryside for exercise, which brought them welcome relief. Many have been able to enjoy God’s creation with the views of the Mourne Mountains and coastline against the backdrop of a blue sky.

Work didn’t stop on farms when the country went into lockdown and I have appreciated having something to occupy my time – the irony being that the jobs I would usually run a mile from, became something I looked forward to.

However, life on our farm did take on a different pace; if milking took longer than usual, it was insignificant, as we didn’t have anywhere else to go.

There were times it seemed to me as if the pause button had been pressed and I was able to reflect on what was really important in life. Suddenly, so many things I had previously thought essential seemed unimportant.

I have had an opportunity to challenge what I place my hope in. The Bible teaches that our primary and ultimate hope is in God; I was reminded that each circumstance during my time on earth is temporary and of my need to place all my hope in God, the only provider of peace.

In the book of Exodus we find the story of the Israelites when they were fleeing captivity in Egypt and God provided all their needs. He sent a pillar of cloud to guide them by day and a pillar of fire to guide them at night. He provided food and the people were told only to collect enough for that day, otherwise it rotted. This was to teach them to trust God that He would provide for them the following day.

This story reminded me that I am not in control of life, but dependent upon God as the source of all life. I can be so busy worrying about the future that I am unable to enjoy what He has given me today. When I am anxious and feel uncertain, I need to place my trust and faith fully in God alone.

In times of uncertainty, God is able to empathise with our grief and suffering, as Jesus died on the cross for our sins. When we face trials and problems, we do so in the knowledge that that there is no human experience to which God Himself cannot relate.

But out of this suffering comes the hope that all who trust in Him will be saved and He has promised to be with us, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Charlotte Stevenson farms with her husband, Jim and son, James, near Kilkeel in County Down. She is a member of Mourne Presbyterian. Having worked at the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s Assembly Buildings in Belfast for a number of years. In December 2017, Charlotte retired.

If you would like to talk to someone about any of the issues raised in this article, please email Rev. Kenny Hanna at [email protected] or call him on 028 9753 1234.

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