Someone reviewing Jane Austen’s Emma at the weekend asked why we need yet another adaptation of it? The answer, of course, is so that soppy people like me get the chance to have a cry and a romantic moment. No-one believes that there is anything ‘true’ about Emma – it is a magnificent fairy-tale.  But magnificent for all that.

Of course following Jesus is in no way like being part of a Jane Austen novel, except when we are stymied by a sense of disconnection. We believe that God has in mind a happy ending, but in the present that seems a long way off. So in justification for my soppy moment, I would say that the scriptures are full of moments when the people of God declare how wonderful God is, even when everything around them is going horribly wrong.

The psalms are especially good at it. And why? Because, like Jane Austen, the authors recognised that there is a profound human need to make something true with our words that we believe in our hearts. As when the guy in the black dress declares that a couple are married (at that moment, by the will of the couple, and the assembly, rather than a month before or week after), so in the psalms we declare what we know is true, even when a part of us is struggling to believe that, say, God is good. By declaring it, so we tell our souls, it IS true.

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