Andy Murray recently wed his long term girl-friend, Kim Sears, in a ceremony at Dunblane Cathedral. There was a special poignancy about the choice of venue, as the Cathedral was the place where the town looked for spiritual comfort following the terrible events of the Dunblane Massacre in 1996.
On the Sunday after the tragedy the Minister at the time, Rev. Colin McIntosh used these words: “Give us the courage to dream that our joy will return”. Andy Murray was one of the children in Dunblane Primary School on that terrible day when Thomas Hamilton lost his mind and went on a shooting spree killing 16 children and a teacher. Andy Murray hid under the Head Teacher’s desk.
What a contrast then when Andy and Kim were able to celebrate their love with what seemed like the whole town turning out to share the joy of their wedding day. And so the words of hope expressed all those years ago somehow found a particular fulfilment in that moment. Joy returned to Dunblane.
When we suffer, it can seem very hard to imagine that one day joy will return. It takes courage to hold onto that dream, and yet hold on to it we must. As Christians we are people of joy. Joy is an aspect of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) and Jesus spoke to his disciples about having a fullness of joy through their faith in Him (John 15:11, 16:24).
This does not mean that we deny the reality of our immediate pain and suffering. It does not mean we have to retain a stiff upper lip and refuse to acknowledge the reality of our sadness, confusion and anger when faced with awful things. But it does mean we can and should look forward with the eye of faith to a time when our joy will be restored and mysteriously discover that even in looking forward that joy starts to become a present reality. The Apostle Peter put it this way: “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” (1 Peter 1:8)
May the Lord grant to all of us who suffer in whatever way the courage to dream that our joy will return. He did it for Dunblane. He can do it for you, and He can do it for me.
Mark Wickenden, Minister