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Fr Ray Hemingray has shared his thought for today, Sunday 18th April 2021.

‘Risk and Trust’

Are you the sort of person who is prepared to take a risk? Sometimes in life we need to take a risk. We all know the old saying, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”. If we are too cautious, we won’t achieve anything.

History has given us many examples of people who have taken risks, in order to benefit themselves, the nation or mankind. There were many missionaries in centuries past, who often went into hostile places to promote the Gospel; there have been doctors and scientists who have experimented with new drugs and vaccines on themselves, to try to find cures for major diseases and benefit mankind; there have been explorers in remote countries, who have increased our knowledge of the natural world; and some people who have risked going up into space, to explore beyond our world. These four examples have resulted in: the spread of the Gospel throughout the world; the development of many effective vaccines and drugs; the discovery of plants that can help mankind; and the invention of new materials to aid space flight, which have found uses in our everyday lives. So, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Taking a risk can save life. Think if the natural disasters in recent years, when rescuers have put their lives at risk, going into treacherous underground places or collapsed buildings, or fighting wildfires, in order to rescue people. Some people do these things because it is their job and it is expected of them; some do it when it is not there job, but their priority is to help their neighbour.

What does the Bible say about taking risks? Well, according to my Bible Concordance, the word ‘risk’ does not appear in the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. But there are several passages about trust, an essential ingredient of any judgment about risk. All but one of the incidences of the word ‘trust’ in the Bible are in the Old Testament. For example

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.”
(Proverbs 3:5)

A lot of the passages where you will find the word ‘trust’ in the Old Testament contain the phrase ‘Trust in the Lord’. We have a heavenly Father in whom we can trust to save us.

The Reverend Nicky Gumbel, who developed the Alpha Course, once told a story from the Second World War. During the Blitz, a father ran from a building struck by a bomb, clutching the hand of his small son. Near the house was a shell hole. The father saw it as a place to shelter and so jumped in and held up his arms for his son to follow. The boy was terrified. He could see a dark hole, but could not see his father. His father said: “I can see you – jump!” The boy trusted his father and jumped into the dark, and his father caught him.

Likewise, whenever our lives are at risk, trust in our heavenly Father can make a difference between taking a risk and not taking a risk.

It is tempting to spend our lives trying to avoid risk. The writer of Ecclesiastes, in the Old Testament, put it this way:

“Whoever observes the wind will not sow,
And whoever regards the clouds will not reap.”
(Ecclesiastes 11:4)

We must try not to be daunted by what we might think of as risky situations. I can’t remember who said, “There are no problems in life, just opportunities”. The late US President John F. Kennedy once observed that the Chinese word for ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters, one representing ‘danger’ and the other ‘opportunity’.

Risk challenges us to decide whether we have faith, hope and trust, and more specifically, faith, hope and trust in God. I am reminded of the story in Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 9. A woman had been suffering from haemorrhages for 12 years. She decided to take a risk in fighting her way through a crowd surrounding Jesus, believing that by just touching him she could be healed. After she touched his cloak, Jesus turned and said to the woman, ‘Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.’ And instantly the woman was made well. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

So if we ever find ourselves in a risky situation, it is not a sign of weakness to ask God for help and to trust in him. If we trust in him, it may turn out that we have worried unnecessarily. Winston Churchill once said: “When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of an old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened”.

Whenever we are frightened about our situation in life, and afraid of taking a risk to solve one of life’s troubles, the words of Jesus can be a comfort and encouragement in coping with our worries, doubts and fears:

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30)

Amen.

Fr. Ray