Aunty Nan was a sister of Our Lady of Africa who lived in the Belgian Congo for many years. One of her actual blood sisters, Molly, spent a year with Nan’s community where the order taught and ran an infirmary. Molly worked in the school office. The sisters were often in conflict with the authorities over corruption, which was rife. This led to a local government official paying a group of guerrillas to attack the convent.
Aunty Molly was terrified when the attack happened, but Aunty Nan was amazing. She herded some of the sisters to the chapel and locked them in; then she and Molly went to face the attackers. Molly was shaking as they passed the bodies of several dead sisters. When they drew near to the fighting, Molly collapsed by a doorway from which she was able to witness what happened. Nan walked into the courtyard and the guerrilla leader, bore down upon her. Molly was sure that she would be killed but before the man got to Nan, one of the workers stuck a knife in his back. Nan got down on the floor next to him and cradled him until she was covered in his blood. The last thing he saw was a look of pure love. Molly said it was the greatest example of trust in God she had ever seen.
I love the book of Ruth which tells a story of trusting faithfulness. Having experienced tragedy, Naomi and Ruth return to Bethlehem from Moab. It is Naomi’s home town but Ruth is a foreigner and a widow and has to learn to trust in God’s care. It teaches us, as Job does, that there are some things that we have no control over, and which have to be left in the hands of God.
Sheila Cassidy once wrote a book called 'Sharing the darkness' in which she said: ‘Faith is the willingness to outstare the darkness.’ Amazing words and yet often I meet people who have the most incredible burdens to deal with and yet who are willing to trust in the goodness of God despite the difficulties they face.
One of the challenges of faith is always, will we trust God and believe that God will be present and that therefore all will be well? That is what Jesus had to do on the cross. He had to trust God in his darkest moment, and it was that trust in God that led Him through death and into life. That is the invitation each of us is given: to open our hearts and minds to the risen Lord, to learn how to trust in God, and to find life in all its fullness.