In times of struggle, where can we find hope? We're delighted to share our latest blog post from Special Guest Blogger, CEO of Churches Housing Action Team (CHAT) and member of St George & St Paul's Church, Ali Padfield.
Like many people I tend to start the day with a cup of coffee and a quick look at the news and at present it can make depressing reading. Some 'highlights' last week included • Nearly a third of private renters have experienced rent hikes in the last three months in the UK according to the charity Shelter. • Combined with increasing energy bills and rising inflation, radical action is needed to make sure people do not end up without basic necessities. • 60.86% of households in Tiverton West are living in deprivation. And finishing with the news that the traditional Christmas dinner will be nearly 22% more expensive this year than in 2021 – with the biggest hike being in chipolatas (which is concerning when my nephew can eat his body weight in pigs in blankets!).
During my working day I meet people who are having to confront the reality of these headline issues on a daily basis. At CHAT our tagline is 'bringing hope' and it has never felt more difficult. The St Paul’s church building is in the Tiverton West district, and we are seeing a growing number of people in our community who have pressing needs that we simply cannot meet as a church, and in your own lives you will all be connecting with people who are affected by these issues in a variety of ways.
It's easy to feel overwhelmed – what difference can we make when faced with such need? As I prayed (because what else can we do?) I was prompted to shift my focus. Not to focus on the seemingly hopeless situation but to focus on hope. After all, this is the season of Advent – a season that gives us reason for hope and at this time of year more than any other, we are reminded that God is faithful always and keeps his promises – it's where our hope comes from.
Hebrews 10: 23 – 25 says 'Let us continue to hold firmly to the hope that we confess without wavering, for the one who made the promise is faithful. And let us continue to consider how to motivate one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another even more as you see the day of the Lord coming nearer'.
When my focus changes I do not have to search hard to find the hope being given. I thought of the text I received from a friend on a particularly bad day, telling of the overwhelming generosity of the local community when donating to the foodbank, the bacon sandwiches given out at Breakfast on the Go, the cake and chat offered at 'Living Room' to those needing company, children's and youth activities delivered throughout the year and many other initiatives where hope has been and is being shared.
So let's focus on the hope we have in Jesus and continue to actively encourage each other to continue sharing that boldly in this season of advent and beyond.
Hope has a name and His name is Jesus.
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