Hope in a time of Turmoil

Tuesday 12 July

Pete Greig founder of 24/7 and leader of Emmaus Road Church in Guildford, spoke at the #Sligo16 evening celebration on Tuesday.  Here VOX editor Ruth Garvey-Williams brings you a summary of what he had to say.

It is stunning to be with you here at New Wine.  There is increasing unity here and I heard this morning that you have 92 under-5s here (Is that heaven or hell?)!

We live in a world that is increasingly perplexing and confusing.  Everything around us is shaking.  How are we to live with hope in a time when there is so much confusion?  How are we to be shaken and yet not stirred?  How can we change nations, when nations are being shaken?

The Chinese write the word crisis with two characters… one means danger and the other means opportunity.  We are living at a time of dangerous opportunity. 

When the world is being shaken, as Christians we are not immune.  Yet we are living in times of remarkable opportunity. 

There is an unprecedented openness to the gospel.  People are responding to Jesus in a way that I have not seen in my lifetime.  Wherever the gospel is being preached courageously and consistently, people are responding like never before.

We are living at a time of great unity and reconciliation.  We are working increasingly with the Catholic Church.  Next week, I will be at World Youth Day.  This is a day of extraordinary opportunity.

God is mobilising His people to pray around the world.  We kept saying “Yes” to God and every time we do that it gets wilder and crazier…  Within a few days, I was approached by the Archbishop of Caterbury Justin Welby. He asked us to get people to pray in Cathedrals on Pentecost Sunday.  At Winchester, we had over 1,000 people outside watching on screens.

If we can’t pray together, we can’t do anything together.  When my kids grow up, if they look identical, dress identical, and live in the same house - that is weird.  We need to celebrate our differences.

While Europe is fragmenting the church is uniting like never before.  This is a time of dangerous opportunity.

Psalm 46 - God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble…

The psalmist is writing this at a time of great crisis.  Nations are shaking.  Kingdoms are falling.  Mountains are fallen into the sea (an image of everything that is solid and secure being undermined - chaos out of order).  This is a time of great turmoil.  Into this great shaking, the psalmist says, we will not fear because God is with us.

The antidote to fear is the knowledge of the proximity of God.  Whatever you are going through.  Whatever you are experiencing in your world, He is an ever present help in trouble.

The greatest gift is not the Father’s presents but the Father’s presence.

Our default is to ask Him to airlift us out of our trouble but often instead, He parachutes into our valley of shadow.  He is present with us even in times of trouble.

Our security is not rooted in the stock markets or even in the political systems.  Our security is in the arms of the Father.  Whatever you are going through, He is with you in sickness and health.  He is with you in seasons of favour and in those times when you feel by-passed.  He is with you in the transitions and He speaks into all of the turmoil and He says, “Be still and know that I am God.”

That verse often gets abused.  It is a command.  “Settle down… be quiet…”  It is like when Jesus rebuked the wind and the waves.  What a relief that He is in control and we are not!  Be still and know it.

How do we do this?  At a time of shaking, how do we find confidence?

Reading from Romans 15:13 - God is a God of hope and He is able to fill us with peace and joy as we trust in Him.  Trust is a pair of open hands that enable us to receive from God.  Lack of trust is a clenched fist.   It is a choice to trust God.

My son and I did the three peaks challenge and we had decided we would travel home on the sleeper train.  I had the tickets in the zip-up pocket of my waterproof trousers.  Those tickets were the encouragement to endure.  They were a promise that helped to keep us going. 

The word of God, the promises of God will give us strength to endure when things are difficult as we choose to believe them rather than our feelings.  Sometimes we feel that God is a million miles away but He says He is an ever-present help in times of trouble.  Who are we going to believe?  God’s word?  Or our own feelings? The Father is on your side.  He is with you and for you. 

Fatherhood is grace. When God looks at you trying your best, knowing that you mess up… He is cheering you on.  That is the God who is ever-present for you. You over-flow with hope because God is the God of hope. The more you allow Him into your life, the more hopeful you become.

Our world is shaking.  Our culture needs Bible-believing, spirit-filled Christians more than ever before.  People who are unafraid.  People who are overflowing with hope