August is often called 'the silly season' - a month typified by the frivolous news stories as our politicians take time off.
How different 2014 has been. Journalists have brought us stories of unimaginable misery from Iraq, Syria, Libya, Ukraine and elsewhere, coupled with dire warnings of chaos reaching our own shores as jihadists from this country return to Britain.
The unremitting stream of bad news this August brought to my mind Jesus's warnings to his disciples of difficult times to come: 'When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified, for these things must take place ... Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues, and there will be dreadful portents ...'
No end in sight
The New Testament is almost universally pacifist, exemplified in Jesus's well known remark in his Sermon on the Mount. 'But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.' Despite this we have never been promised that conflicts around the world will cease. Quite the reverse. Jesus and the other New Testament writers envisage that they will continue.
There is much in the New Testament preparing people to face persecution and other adversity. 'Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place...' Jesus tells his disciples.
The Bible is always very realistic about human nature, including its dark side which from time to time will manifest itself. Peace across the whole of God's world awaits the time when God's kingdom comes in all its fullness in a new creation. Then: 'They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.' (Isaiah 11: 9)
Living in a troubled world
So if The Bible does not lead us to expect endless peace and tranquillity in our world any time soon, what does it have to say about troubled times such as this?
Firstly, whatever happens, God will be with us. Nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God, St Paul reassures the early churdi, 'And remember, I am with you always,' Jesus told his disciples.
Secondly, we are to make the most of the time we have: 'Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil.'
Thirdly we are to be people of Peace: 'Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.' And finally, the best for God's creation is yet to come - I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us,' writes St Paul. For a time is coming when: 'the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away' Amen. Come Lord Jesus.