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‘Circumstances beyond our control’

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‘Circumstances beyond our control’

Have you heard this phrase recently: ‘due to circumstances beyond our control, we have been unable to…‘ ?  As a nation, we find it extremely irritating when snow and ice hamper our ability to carry out our day-to-day affairs.  It leaves us with a sense of powerlessness, of helplessness… yet, on the up side, it reminds us of who, ultimately, is in charge! And it’s something we need to be reminded of frequently.  Somehow, if we’re not vigilant, we reclaim areas of our lives from God’s jurisdiction and proceed to make a mess of them.  There’s certainly nothing like making a mess of things to remind us to hand everything back to God and let him take control once more.  St Therese of Lisieux once wrote ‘the memory of my faults humiliates me and prompts me never to rely on my own strength.’*  And conversely, of course, the memory of times when we’ve trusted God and he has led us safely through our difficulties prompts us to rely on divine assistance. Not being in charge, in control, makes us feel vulnerable though, and it takes a good deal of trust to let God rule our lives.   I’m reminded of these lines from a hymn attributed to St Columba:

Alone with none but thee, my God, I journey on my way.
What need I fear when thou art near, O King of night and day?
More safe am I within thy hand than if a host did round me stand.
My life I yield to thy decree,
and bow to thy control
in peaceful calm, for from thine arm
no power can wrest my soul.
Could earthly omens e’er appal a man that heeds the heavenly call?

Imagine St Columba arriving from Ireland as a missionary to sixth century Scotland.  He experienced great hardship (and no doubt more than a spot of inclement weather!), yet his trust in the Lord must have been absolute, if only for the reason that there was no-one else in whom he could place his trust!  We’re swift to turn to the Lord in times of trouble –  I’m sure there have been plenty of petitions from drivers on European roads recently – but in better times, we can be tempted to think, ‘it’s all okay now.  I’m in control, I can do it all myself.’  In those times, we’d do well to remember the above words from St Columba and also the closing lines of the hymn:

‘Tis not from chance our comfort springs.
thou art our trust, O King of kings.

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* Maurice and Therese: The Story of a Love p. 135

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