A famous American preacher was invited to England to give a sermon at St Andrew’s Parish located out on the edge of London.
And, for many years afterwards, whenever he recalled the experience, he spoke of a conversation he had had with an elderly member of St Andrew’s congregation: a man in his eighties.
The old man told him what it was like on the nights of the great World War II bombing raids, especially on the night that for him was the worst of all. He said that as he stood in St Andrew churchyard looking out over the City of London, he could see the whole central part of the city in flame. The sky was filled with black smoke, as far as he could see.
With tears in his eyes, the old man said: “It seemed to me that everything was lost—-the War, England, all the values of civilization. I found myself asking, again and again: Is there any hope? I found myself crying like a baby, but then, there was a sudden gust of wind, for just a moment. And it blew the smoke away just long enough for me to see the Cross of Christ atop the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral. And the instant I saw it, I felt a surge of hope within me and I stopped weeping because I remembered once again that there is a power that is greater than all the powers of evil, a power that would see us through and that would live on.”
The triumphant cross standing tall amid the flames and clouds of destruction—-that’s what it means to see things from God’s long-term perspective, and from the perspective of faith.
God has the bigger picture. And sometimes we have to persist in our prayer as did the woman in our Gospel reading today (this evening). She had that much confidence in Christ’s healing power. She wasn’t going to give in to despair and doubt—-she would not take ‘no’ for an answer. Jesus recognizes this and says to her: “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.”
So, don’t give up on prayer, and know that the power of the Cross will see you through. Try to remember this thought when you are tempted to doubt: God did not bring me this far to abandon me now.
God will NOT abandon me, and I will trust in his saving power!
But this image of the cross amidst the black smoke also has a significance, I think, given the events happening in our country, and around the world. We sometimes wonder: Where are we headed? And there is much fear, anger, hatred and violence. We know that these types of responses usually get us no where. So, amidst the confusion that surrounds us, try your best to keep your gaze fixed on the right things, and have confidence that although it may seem as if the darkness is prevailing, we see in that gust of wind what has been there all the time, and will never be taken away—-the cross of Jesus Christ , our Lord and Savior. Remember this in your own journey of faith, and remember it when it seems that our world is coming apart at the seams. Don’t loose sight of who you are and what your faith tells you and asks of you.
Is there any hope? Of course there is! There is a greater power that will see us through.