Yesterday Isaac – our ten year old – leaned over the back seat of our car to look into the boot for something, and somehow managed to get his head stuck between the headrests. I thought at first he was joking and left him there for a bit as we played along with it, but after a while I realised he was serious! I tried to help him wiggle his head in all sorts of directions but in the end, I decided it really was stuck. Somehow his head had gone in, but wouldn’t come out. He looked like someone in the stocks – with head through a gap and hands either side pushing and pulling to be released. He wasn’t upset about it at all and actually thought it very amusing. And it was! We were all laughing, especially as he suggested we call the fire-brigade to release him. In the end it was quite simple – we just needed to collapse the seat to allow his head to be released. But it was one of those funny, memorable moments that made us all smile.

It’s good to smile. Good to laugh. Good to see the humour in things. That’s especially important when life is dull or – even more so – when it’s tough and you’re pain. I’m struggling to write this blog this morning as I’m in great pain with a bad back. It’s been twinging a little throughout the summer and I probably didn’t help it lifting boxes last week, but yesterday evening it ‘went’ as I lent over a table and now I can barely walk as it keeps locking up. We’re praying it’ll settle down (as it has in the past) and we know the Lord has the power to heal it in an instant but at the moment it’s a real struggle.

Lots of people live with pain. Physical pain. Emotional pain. Probably a lot more severe than my back pain, which I hope is only temporary. How do we cope in times like that? When in pain, I’m always consoled by the words of Scripture that remind me that the Lord is with me and gives ‘strength to the weary and power to the weak’ (Isaiah 40:29). And I also look around me at good things to celebrate – which is what God says in Philippians 4:4 we should do. So for instance I’m happy that our friends Luke and Hannah Smith had their second child yesterday – Aaron. And that yesterday Pippa Winterburn and Al Elmes got married. Wonderful!

If you’re struggling today, hard as it may be – look beyond your pain and look for something to celebrate. And of course look to the all-powerful God for healing and transformation of your situation. But if it’s not immediately relieved, hang in there. And, if you can, smile. Watch a funny film. Enjoy a great joke. Or chuckle with me, as I recall again Isaac with his head stuck between the car headrests!