I wonder how you feel about February. – traditionally February fill-dyke? Is it dreary and wet but fortunately only 28 days long? Or perhaps you see bulbs beginning to flower and the days getting longer and think to yourself that however bleak the weather is just now, warmer and sunnier days are on the way.

One thing that may make you a bit depressed in February is realising that you haven’t managed to keep all those good resolutions that you made at the beginning of the year. Perhaps Dry January got a little damp, or the diet went to the wall when you saw a really delicious cake in the coffee shop or the daily exercise didn’t survive the reality of cold mornings and a comfortable bed. But, on the other hand, you can always start again and hope that this time you will do better, especially as you now know the pitfalls that made it hard the last time.

February can seem like a time when nothing much happens. The excitement of Christmas is over and Easter still a long way away, even if the supermarkets are already selling Easter Eggs! But one thing that does happen is Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day, closely followed by the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday. For Christians, Lent gives us an opportunity to look at how we’re doing and renew some of those resolutions which we’ve somehow managed to neglect. Some people give up things for Lent. Often this seems to include chocolate or alcohol, so this may be a good time to start a diet. Others think about what they could do to help others and make this their focus, or try to be more disciplined about praying or reading the Bible. Sometimes we may fail, just as sometimes we don’t manage to keep our New Year resolutions, but we have the promise that when we recognise where we have failed, God will forgive us and help us when we try to do better next time.

It may well be an on-going process. One Christian described it as stumbling again and again, but always being picked up by God through faith in His Son. He loves us and forgives us and can bring us to the light and joy of Easter. One of God’s great gifts to us is the gift of hope. However bad things seem, we always have the hope of a better future. We do not need to be afraid because God is with us, whatever happens.

Revd Glynis Bell