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Monday, 2 January 2012

I know how you feel! ("Oh no, you don't!")

During my time as a full-time parish minister, there were occasions on which I had the unwelcome, but necessary, task of conducting the funeral service for a stillborn child, or one that had survived a very short time after birth.  These were, as most folk would understand, difficult situations.  It was my custom to visit with the bereaved family on one or two occasions prior to the funeral but, while I could be sympathetic, I was unable to say the words: "I know what you're going through."  My two healthy children were in the manse, growing like Jack's beanstalk and, as the saying goes, eating my wife and me out of house and home!

I thought of all of that as I heard, and read, today's reports on the Prime Minister's New Year "address to the nation".  He stated that: “Of course I know that there will be many people watching this who are worried about what else the year might bring. There are fears about jobs and paying the bills. The search for work has become difficult, particularly for young people. And rising prices have hit household budgets. I get that.
We are taking action on both fronts. I know how difficult it will be to get through this. But I also know that we will.”

 "I know how difficult it will be ..."  To continue the pantomime analogy of 'Jack and the Beanstalk', "Oh no, you don't!"   And how could he?  With his personal wealth, added to that of the lovely Samantha (Mrs C), bolstering a Prime Ministerial salary, on top of still-generous expenses, held together with the other financial perks that accrue to someone in his position, there's no way that he knows how difficult it is.  Let the PM spend a year with no income other than a state pension, or the "average" wage of a working man, or the benefits provided for a genuine claimant.  Then, he can tell us that he knows how difficult it is!

I am happy to give the PM the benefit of the doubt, and accept that he is genuine in his concern for others - just as I was genuinely concerned for the parents of those dead infants.  But please, Mr Cameron, don't insult the British people by telling those of us who have to get by over a year, on a fraction of what some footballers earn in a week, that you know what it's like for us!

That's the difference with Almighty God.  At the Incarnation that we have just celebrated, He entered our time-space continuum; took upon Himself human flesh; and lived the life of the humanity that He had created - yet without sin (Heb.4:15).  He experienced all of our emotions; He knew what is was to be hated, betrayed, unjustly condemned.  And He even experienced death - the cruel death of crucifixion.  

When He says, "I understand", we may be certain that He really does. 

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