Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Fragile but Precious

When people ask me how I am now in the aftermath of recent medical intervention I usually reply 'Doing well - but fragile!'. This got me thinking about fragility generally and especially as we start receiving parcels marked 'FRAGILE' in advance of Christmas. What does it mean and what do I mean when I use it to describe my state of health? The dictionary offers two meanings for the word - "able to be broken easily" and "in a weakened physical state" and so it's the latter sense that I am using. But there is another aspect of the word that takes my interest - the fact that so many precious things are fragile. Glass ornaments, prized artefacts, antiques, sensitive technical equipment, medical kit - all these important and valuable things may be described as 'fragile'.

When faith is fragile it is sometimes open to criticism, especially from those whose faith is robust and strong. Like the man who used to get sand kicked in his face in the advert for muscle-building products, Christians can feel intimidated at times when their faith is fragile. Perhaps in the aftermath of trauma or bereavement, or the barren wasteland of loss and disappointment, faith can be especially fragile as we travel the journey of our lives. Yet this fragility itself speaks to us of the precious nature of the cargo. Our faith - whether fledgling faith like that of Jesus' disciples or bruised faith like that of those of us who have suffered long and hard - is of immense value to God.

You see, just a little faith placed in a mighty God can achieve amazing things! A small and faltering step taken on a strong bridge will get us so much further than confident stamping on a shaky artificial temporary walkway! When we see that someone else's faith is fragile, let's not be too quick to criticise. In fact, when illustrating the power of faith placed in God, Jesus took the smallest of all the seeds in a Middle-Eastern garden, the mustard seed, to show how precious such faith can be. So instead, maybe we need to back off and pray that their small and fragile faith may be placed in a powerful and loving God and so bring forth the fruit that it is capable of producing in the long run.

Till then, I'm doing OK thanks, but fragile!