I, Tobit, walked in the ways of truth and righteousness all the days of my life.....When I was in my own country, in the land of Israel, while I was still a young man, the whole tribe of my ancestor Naphtali deserted the house of David and Jerusalem.....All my kindred and our ancestral house of Naphtali sacrificed to the calf that King Jeroboam of Israel had erected in Dan and on all the mountains of Galilee. But I alone went often to Jerusalem for the festivals, as it is prescribed for all Israel by an everlasting decree.
After I was carried away captive to Assyria and came as a captive to Nineveh, everyone of my kindred and my people ate the food of the Gentiles, but I kept myself from eating the food of the Gentiles. Because I was mindful of God with all my heart, the Most High gave me favour and good standing with Shalmaneser, and I used to buy everything he needed.
(Reading: Church in Wales Lectionary, from New Revised Standard Version)
What on earth has a veritable 'fairy story' from the Apocrypha* to do with us today, you may wonder? I say 'fairy story', because it feels like a 'tale,' with angels and demons appearing.
Tobit lives in dangerous times under a hostile regime in Israel, for the people have turned away from God to worship Baal. Once Assyria invades Israel, and he is taken captive to Nineveh, things become worse. Nineveh is a city steeped in evil, as we have seen with Jonah, who runs away after God sends him there. Although Tobit rises to an important position in the Court of King Shalmaneser, he is always in danger, and his brave actions to keep his faith and help others, lead to the next king, Sennacherib, placing a death warrant on him.
What can we learn from Tobit? Well, we need to look at the enormous moral strength of the main characters, of Tobit, Tobias and Sarah, which comes from their complete trust in God.
Today, we may face huge challenges. We may have lost our job or business, be struggling to keep a roof over our head and feed the family, feel isolated and alone, or scared of being incapacitated or dying. These worries can get out of control, especially at night. We need to face them from a Christian perspective - to serenely trust in God's loving care, while doing what we can to help ourselves.
* The books that are in some Bibles, between the Old and New Testament.
Loving Lord God,
keep us ever close to You
when life seems hard
and the problems of the day
Give us the strength
to turn to You with everything
that worries us,
and not to give up.