Thursday, 5 January 2017

Count it Joy!

Over the past couple of months God has really been speaking to me about the issue of opposition and facing difficult times, and in particular the last couple of weeks has shown this to me in stark contrast.

Over the Christmas period At the Salvation Army in Mold we have been incredibly blessed by the generosity of the people in our community. We regularly receive donations of food from both Sainsburys and Tesco and in the run up to Christmas we were collecting and distributing food daily. We also, with the help of generous donations from the public, were able to provide hampers to families in need to ensure that they can celebrate Christmas too. We also ran a toy appeal and were able to give children all over Flintshire a present to open on Christmas Day. All in all thousands of people were effected by the work of the Salvation Army and we pray that many of those saw the face of Jesus in the extravagant love we tried to show.  A highlight for me was on Christmas Eve as Father Christmas and three elves went around a local estate handing out food and flowers to the adults, and sweets to the children. The look of joy on both the children and adult’s faces were priceless!

On New Year's Day our church family watched a documentary called ‘our people’ and we saw the life and work of the booths and The Salvation Army. It showed some of the opposition that they faced and the verbal and sometimes physical violence that was faced. We discussed as a church how when God is doing something good in our life and work,  that the devil is unhappy and will often try to cause havoc.

In conversation I mentioned an incident that had occurred just before Christmas. As part of our work we had given out food hampers to the local market traders and businesses. Many people were incredibly grateful for this gift, some people even wept as they accepted our thanks for their hard work in the past year. However, one man, paid us a visit in the centre and very aggressively returned our gift. Along with a lot of foul language he made it clear that he didn't appreciate what we had done and was very unhappy with our idea of giving to the local businesses, as he left I wished him a happy Christmas and that God’s blessing would be upon him! About 5 minutes later I burst into tears!! On reflection I realised that there was obviously more going on it that mans life and that it was simply the devil unhappy with God’s love biding shown to so many. As I relayed the story we all agreed that we must be doing something good as the Salvation Army in order to be facing such opposition.

As the bible says
2 Corinthians 4:16-18  “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

God most certainly must be moving in the Salvation Army in Mold because just two days after that, we had a burglary! Someone in the middle of the night broke into the centre and tried to take a collection tin. They somehow  were unable to take anything, but they left smashed glass, and we were unable to open for business for two days. At first it felt like a major blow. We try to help all people and if this person had come to visit us in the day, we would have given to them any help we could.

 But after a while we came to a point of praise.

Praise that my husband had the fortitude to remove the full collection tin before we shut for the holiday.

Praise that our prayers of protection had worked as nothing was taken from the building.

Praise that this event allowed us to share with others, more publicly how God has graciously blessed us over Christmas and that we were able to help people in the community.

Praise that God is at work and the devil is unhappy.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9  “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

My challenge today is what situation do you need to turn to praise?