2 Corinthians 1:3-4 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. (NRSV)
At the end of my dad's funeral service nine years ago, my mom gave me his personal Shona language hymn and prayer book. It is neatly bound in leather, and contains some bookmarks with his handwriting and underlining of his favourite prayers and hymns. This has become my treasured companion, and I sing and read aloud prayers in my own language from the book.
My dad meant so much to me, and our relationship was built on love, trust, and acceptance. Growing up as an African child meant many nights by the fire listening to stories about my ancestors and life in general. Most of all, my dad had a forgiving heart, and he was full of humour. He also was a mentor for all our children, who have continued to grow in their faith and cherish their grandfather's Christian values.
I was the closest to my dad, and he would always seek out my opinion before making decisions. I lived with the constant fear that I would disappoint him. I felt overwhelmed, but humbled, by his trust in me. When my parents retired from active ministry, they moved from the city centre to a small town, and on their visits, they always stopped by our house first to call my siblings and other relatives to inform them that they were in town. Many family meetings were conducted in our house.
My relationship with my father can be likened to what our relationship should be with God. He is our greatest comforter: loving, forgiving, and faithful. He is always there for us, and never abandons us in our time of need. He has provided us with the Bible to be our daily companion and source of strength and inspiration. In these turbulent times of global financial crisis, insecurity, and uncertainty about the future, it is befitting that we as Christians put our trust in God by consoling others and leading them to Him for salvation and the peace that passes all understanding.
Prayer: Gracious Lord, forgive us our sins, and teach us how to pray with reverence and fear, and how to trust You even when life is difficult. May we acknowledge Your presence at all times: You are the Messiah, coming to save us from this broken world. Above all, may Your will be done. Amen.