In this world, some things cannot possibly be.
Moses couldn’t possibly have parted the Red Sea,
Peter could never have preached with authority
Or walked upon the Lake of Galilee,
Slaves to sin could not possibly be set free,
Sarah couldn’t have experienced maternity,
Israel couldn’t be redeemed from captivity,
Bartimaeus couldn’t possibly ever see,
Love couldn’t have changed the course of history.
Everything, with Jesus, is a possibility
During Advent 2022, I followed Tearfund’s daily emails, “Bless the Peacemakers”. These messages were prayer requests for Tearfund partners working in conflict-ravaged parts of the world. Some of the situations were so bad as to be almost beyond human endurance. You saw instances of war, gangs, vendettas, trauma, community strife; and wondered how anyone could make a difference. The prayer requests, though, were supported by evidence of how Tearfund projects are succeeding against the odds because partners step out, not in their own strength, but in God’s. As Jesus told his disciples, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27, Matthew 19:26)
This acrostic was written after I had visited the Isle of Cumbrae (a favourite haunt). It’s an unlikely place to find a cathedral, but the Cathedral of the Isles is small-but-perfectly-formed. It has had a chequered history since its construction in 1849 and at times it seemed impossible that the cathedral and its college could remain open. As I wandered round the grounds, I marvelled at how it had remained a place of worship, a centre for residential retreat and venue for classical music; recently, its woodland has been restored and a maze created. This had at times seemed impossible. Sadly, the residential college has once again suspended its activities but perhaps God will answer prayer and find a new way forward for it.
Across the road stands the island’s new church and church hall, opened in 2019. A decade ago it seemed impossible for a small island community to leave behind their Victorian church and build a modern one. But there it stands, testimony to God’s promise.
The Bible contains many references to God purposing things that seemed impossible to people: Sarah having a son (Genesis 18:14), miraculously healing a severely epileptic boy (Mark 9:23), God restoring Jerusalem after it had been sacked by the Babylonians (Jeremiah 32:17), or a virgin bearing a child (Luke 1:37). God’s power and the obedience of a faithful person are a formidable combination. As Paul wrote to the Philippians I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).
Whatever difficulties we may be facing, God never expects the impossible of us. We have a God who is full of possibilities. We cling on to that knowledge when we are sad, and rejoice in it when we are happy.
(Impossible appears on my New Testament: The Early Church page).