I believe in the sun even when it is not shining

I believe in the sun even when it is not shining

These are the anonymous words written during WW2, on the wall of a cellar, by a Jew in the Cologne concentration camp. It is unlikely that any of us will face the horror of a concentration camp. But we will all face times of testing, whether it is difficulties in our relationships, illness, bereavement or unemployment. When testing times come, how do we keep going? When dark clouds descend how do we look beyond our current horizon?

You would expect me as an Anglican priest to give a straightforward answer about faith and belief in Jesus – and of course this is true! The complication is that faith has never been about certainty. Even a cursory read of the Gospels unearths many more questions than answers. There is nothing in the life of Jesus to suggest faith was a crutch or wishful thinking. Quite the opposite. He took a risk and bet his life on a faithful and good God. He did this not because life was easy or straightforward but because it was challenging and complicated. His life and death are a challenge to simple answers, lazy paths and the status quo. Faith is not a wall to keep people out but a gate to go through that opens up into the fuller possibilities of our common and frail humanity. Jonathan Sacks puts this eloquently in his book ‘Celebrating Life’;

“Faith is not certainty. It is the courage to live with uncertainty. It is not knowing all the answers. It is often the strength to live with the questions. It is not a sense of invulnerability. It is the knowledge that we are utterly vulnerable, but that it is precisely in our vulnerability that we reach out to God, and through this learn to reach out to others, able to understand their fears and doubts. We learn to share, and in sharing discover the road to freedom. It is only because we are not gods that we are able to discover God.”

There were further words scratched onto the cellar wall that continue; “And I believe in love, even when there’s no one there. And I believe in God, even when he is silent.” I have no idea what you are facing and the trials you have been through. I do know our shared humanity should point us to be more compassionate, more patient and to help one another. Faith is a gate to be opened and explored. You do not need ‘the faith’ to do this, but you do need some ‘faith’ and belief that the sun will shine again in the future. And even if it only shines dimly for us now, we can help it shine for others in the future.  Bob

Revd Bob Bailey