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Spare a thought

"I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers." Ephesians 1. 16

Watching the film 'Military Wives' put me in mind of my former comrades. Occasionally lionised, usually ignored, these are the men, and now women also, who train to put their lives on the line for our protection and to do our government's foreign dirty work. Just as worthy of our appreciation are the families who have to cope with the constant disruption and uncertainty of their absence, all the while dreading that knock on the door and the appearance of a brace of smartly dressed harbingers of bad news.

While we are stressing about Christmas, they will be preparing for yet another extended period of separation, rendered all the more poignant by the ever earlier festivities driven by our increasingly desperate media. Everyone knows it's what they signed up for but that doesn't make it easy.

The apostle Paul certainly knew how to encourage through appreciation. The letters from him which are preserved in the New Testament reveal his sense of responsibility for the growing network of early churches, many of which he had founded himself. They further reveal Paul himself as a man who was humbled by his shameful past, as a persecutor of the movement he now embodied, yet as a leader who was not afraid of administering discipline where it was needed. What made him effective was the sensitivity with which he handled people and the sincerity of his own actions. Paul's habit of beginning and ending his letters with fulsome expressions of appreciation and commitments to pray are prime examples.

When we pray for people, we are expressing at least 3 things: that we care about them, that we want the very best for them and that we trust God to deliver we cannot. So let's hear it in heaven for those who are following Jesus, consciously or otherwise, in being willing to lay down their lives for those they love...



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