As Christians, we know – and Scripture reminds us – that God can bring blessings out of bad situations, even if we don’t always recognise them right away.

Sometimes these blessings follow quickly after a tragedy or heartbreaking event, as God moves people to bring love to life for those who are hurting. What results can leave us in awe of his wisdom, power and heart for his people.

There have been many examples of God’s grace and mercy in this difficult past 12 months.

In the generosity and compassion shown to shattered people by their neighbours, churches and the wider public, after lives, homes and livelihoods were razed by bushfires, we have seen the very nature of God. In the connections made with and care provided for those suffering and isolated by the global devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic, we experience the very touch of God – even as we keep physical distance from each other.

He suffers with us and knows our greatest fears. This intimate relationship between Father and children is, as the beloved hymn calls it ‘blessed assurance’, even when our pain is beyond what we think we can bear.

Sometimes the good emanating from something terrible may take years – and many seemingly unanswered prayers – to materialise, as God’s will unfolds, in his time. In Genesis we read of the blessings he brought out of Joseph’s betrayal by his brothers – and you can delve more into that in this month’s Bible study.

I’ve experienced this goodness after tragedy or hardship personally. Having lost my dad as a child, I gained a wonderful step-father and siblings after my mum remarried. And, through times of job insecurity, God opened my eyes to his path for me.

In this edition we are privileged to share stories from around our church about God’s remarkable goodness and faithfulness. These offer a small insight into how he can use us to further his kingdom, bringing blessings from even the most trying times, or in the face of the biggest disappointments.

We also bring back some popular sections, including Go and Grow, which this month features wonderful resources for Advent and Christmas. And, mindful of your responses to our subscriber survey, we are retaining Church@Home devotional materials, as you’ve told us they are a treasured inclusion, even for those who’ve been able to return to face-to-face worship.

I pray that in these pages we all see evidence of the hope that only Jesus offers to replenish our souls when hardship leaves us ‘running on empty’ – and the blessings he showers on us and through us, even in the darkest days.

– Lisa

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