Lent Week 3 – Friendship

Every week during lent we will be posting a short devotional thought which we hope you will find a blessing.

Things aren’t always what they seem

‘There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror!’ 1 John 4:18

I grew up in India. For the first ten years of my life we lived in a place called Purulia, just west of Calcutta, or Kolkata as it is now known. My older sister and I were free to play outside our large garden, roaming paddy fields, and looking for frogs in the tiny pond over the road.

When Steph was sent to boarding school, I spent more time on my own and loved wandering the dusty road outside our mission house. I don’t remember being afraid, or at least not until the time of day when dusk was approaching. I think we used to call it ‘Go-dhouli time’. If anyone speaks Bengali, please correct me if I’m wrong, but it was the time of day when the cows came home and I think the expression is translated as ‘the dust of the cows in the last rays of the sun’.

The cows would shamble along our road from the fields where they had spent the day, kicking up clouds of dust, picking up some speed, and making quite a noise, or at least it seemed that way to a six-year-old child. The only problem was that I thought they were following me. Convinced they were speeding up with the sole purpose of catching me, I would run for home with my heart pounding in my chest. I wouldn’t feel safe until I had opened our large wooden gate and slammed the large metal latch down behind me. I could then watch them pass by in safety.

Looking back I wonder why I never told Mum about my fears. It never occurred to me that the cows were simply going home. It’s so easy to feel fearful when we don’t need to, when we don’t know all the facts and misinterpret the situation. All I needed was to share my fears and someone would have put me right.

The Bible tells us not to be afraid over a hundred times. God places a lot of emphasis on this subject. He knows we are human and open to doubts and fears just as much as we are open to his love and compassion. I guess growing up, physically and spiritually, means getting a sense of proportion and choosing to turn fear out of doors.

Jenny Hawke – Extract from ‘Elephants in the Rush Hour’

Lord, sometimes my fears get the better of me,
looming larger than life itself,
and blocking my view of the truth.
You tell me, ‘Do not fear’,
and I would agree
if only I could do it.
Lord, help my unbelief,
wrap me in your love,
take my hand
and teach me.

Children like Prem arrive at Purulia and are often in a state of fear. They may have been stigmatised, bullied or badly treated because of leprosy; but they may simply like any of us, be afraid of hospitals, of new places, unwelcome needles or an impending operation. As they meet the wonderful team of doctors and nurses, fears settle. For longer term patients, warm friendship means that children who need to be left by parents returning to work, feel at home. Children’s laughter echoes out at times around the wards. This is not just a hospital. Let’s pray today that it continues to meet those fearful eyes with love.

You can make a donation to support the projects in India and Nigeria mentioned in our lent devotionals.

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15th Mar 2017

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Opinions are the authors own and not necessarily those of The Leprosy Mission Scotland.