Faith at work: a barrister under pressure

Ian Miller

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you feel utterly out of your depth? In a situation where if you do not succeed the stakes are high? Perhaps you have worked conscientiously at something and yet you do not feel up to the task? It is in those situations I find it easiest to trust God; I am acutely aware of my own shortcomings and my utter dependency on Him. I pray to Him at regular intervals throughout morning, noon and night as I translate my fear, if not sheer terror, into the sort of faith and trust that should characterise my life all the time.

A few months ago I had one of those situations. Unfortunately, I cannot give too many details as the case is now the subject of further proceedings. If you have read this column before you will have gathered that my practice consists largely of personal injury and landlord and tenant. One day, a little while ago, I was contacted and asked to represent a number of people in an area totally outside my expertise. "I hope that you turned down those instructions in accordance with your Code of Conduct" I hear you say. Well not exactly. You see the issue was one I felt rather passionately about. I am afraid I can only leave you to guess what it was but there was a clear injustice being perpetrated (in the Christian sense: God's will was undoubtedly not being done). So I said to the solicitor making the enquiry that he should see if he could find someone who was better qualified to do the case and, if desperate, come back to me. He came back and so, with the caveat (lawyers specialise in them) that I was not acting within my area of expertise, I took on the three day hearing. I spent hours working through the papers and getting to grips with the law and I prayed and prayed for those involved, for God's help and for the right outcome. I was a bundle of nerves before the hearing and did not stop praying when in the court room (albeit that my prayers were silent; for God's benefit and noone else's). By God's grace we were successful.

What is the temptation when such a 'trial' does go well? I find that it is quickly to forget the feeling of my own inadequacy and my need for His help; it is to forget God's role and to put myself in His place.

In a talk he gave recently, Rico Tice reminded me of a great verse:

You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today. (Deut 8:17-18)

The principle is surely that we should remember that it is God who gives us the ability to be successful in all situations (whether that success is winning or simply doing the job well). It is great that he is able to use us in our weakness to bring glory to Him. But would it not be wonderful if we were consistent in our prayer, trust and dependency on Him in all that we do rather than just when such situations make us so aware of our need for Him?

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