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He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147.3

Some people can't bear to watch the news because it is so full of gloom, suffering and strife. And those are just the headlines. Behind every tragedy are real people, real communities, real ecosystems - being damaged, sometimes beyond repair. Behind every front door, even in places unaffected by high-profile crises, lurk myriad examples of suffering and abuse. And the shame of it is that churches are not unaffected either.

There can be no doubt that most of this is down to human misbehaviour. Our capacity for evil can even make so-called "natural disasters" or "acts of God" worse, in the way these are addressed - or not. But it's easy enough to pronounce judgment and pin blame. Identifying a cure is much harder. There are some who reach for a quick fix, others state that they can never forgive.

The Gaelic word cùram embraces several meanings including responsibility, worry and religious conversion. In its versatility and subtlety it reveals a keen awareness of the complexity of life: how does our response to God influence our attitude to the world around us and guide how we intervene? Cùram expresses all of the actions in this brief question. So does the description of God's activities in Psalm 147.

Whatever it takes and how ever long, God heals those who are injured: no rush to judgment, no quick fix. Some might argue that is not the way Jesus worked: didn't he pronounce judgment on the unrepentant, didn't he perform miracles of healing? Indeed, but didn't he also bear with those who were not healed and didn't he also die as a ransom for sinners, regardless of their willingness to repent or forgive?

Life is complicated and, if we really want to make a difference, we need to take care in how we intervene. That means being prepared to take the long way around. At other times if may require us to leap into action straight away. We shall never get it completely right and we shall spend a lifetime learning and changing. The Good News is that we have a Good Shepherd as our guide, friend and healer.



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