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07 September 2012

The summer has ended

The summer has ended

As the summer comes to an end and a new season starts, we hopefully look back on memorable moments and refreshing times. We're probably also aware that not all we'd hoped for has been realised. This summer the economy hasn't picked up speed; the GCSE English grading crisis has not been resolved; the relentless rains have damaged our crops… you can complete the sequence from personal experience. For the season that we entered with such hope may not have ended with the change we'd longed for.

"The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved."

The prophet Jeremiah frankly reflects on the end of a season in Israel's wanderings and captivity (8:20). God's people had hoped for peace but no good had come, for a time of healing but there was only terror. With the passage of the season, their hope seems to have gone. While Jeremiah's heart grows faint with grief, he turns to God, the Comforter in sorrow. His lament is full of questions. "Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?"

Life is seasonal. As we transition from one season to the next we need to voice our questions and absorb some of those disappointed hopes. Hope deferred, after all, makes the heart grow sick (Proverbs 13:12). The author of Ecclesiastes recognises that the arc that spans all our seasons is the eternity that God has placed in the human heart, even though we can't fathom what He has done from beginning to end (3:11).

We really can't. The prophet Isaiah reiterates that His understanding no one can fathom. Yet within our limitations, we are not left clueless. For the one who holds our times in His hands gives generously. "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."(40:28-31)

Within the ebb and flow of times and seasons, there is an empowering renewal at work.

In vulnerable conversations, frank laments and prayerful attentiveness, we are reminded of eternal promises, the rays of which already illuminate us. Though questions may remain and hopes will be deferred, we sense again the world that awaits us. There is balm in Gilead. Healing will appear. Strength will be renewed. We will soar.

The summer has ended. Go well.

Marijke Hoek, coordinator Forum for Change