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A shot in the dark

Film portrays Churchill's wartime struggles

It is hard to face challenging circumstances alone

FOR Winston Churchill and the country he served, it was the darkest hour. The military force of Nazi Germany had swept through western Europe and looked set to invade Britain as it stood isolated.

That is the frightening setting for the film Darkest Hour, which stars Gary Oldman as Churchill and which opened at cinemas yesterday (Friday 12 January).

In May 1940, the Second World War is going disastrously for Britain. The prime minister Neville Chamberlain is berated by the opposition parties in parliament and, meeting later with his Conservative grandees, decides the time has come to stand down.

The foreign secretary, Lord Halifax, is the popular choice to move into 10 Downing Street, but he declines the invitation. None of the movers and shak­ers want the unpredictable Churchill to take over. They regard him as ‘delusional’ and a ‘catastrophe’. But, as there is no one else to turn to, he is called to the palace for an audience with a King who is also reluctant to make the 65-year-old his next prime minister.

The fear is that Churchill is not up to leading the government. People worry he will be a disaster and the country will be destroyed.

During his first few weeks in power, the new prime minister’s life is a con­stant battle – and not just because of the fighting on the other side of the English Channel. The military top brass and his cabinet colleagues undermine and plot against him. They want to pursue peace with Hitler, and Churchill is left as the sole voice in favour of continuing the struggle.

Even his speeches, today remembered for their oratory brilliance, were met with muted disdain in the House of Commons. A tired and isolated figure, Churchill is left to lament: ‘I am unwanted.’

During this darkest hour, the politician shows his need for support and encour­agement from others. It is hard to face challenging circumstances alone.

The conflicts and hardships most peo­ple face are not military ones. But there may be battles to pay the bills, save an important relationship or cope with a bad diagnosis from the doctor – and these problems are all the harder to cope with if we feel we’re on our own.

When Christians encounter difficult times, they have the comfort of knowing that they do not have to face them alone. They can experience the support of Jesus and know that he will help them over­come any challenges.

As one early follower of Jesus put it: ‘Can anything cut us off from the love of Christ – can hardships or distress, or persecution, or lack of food and clothing, or threats or violence … ? No; we come through all these things triumphantly vic­torious, by the power of him who loved us’ (Romans 8:35, 37 New Jerusalem Bible).

Jesus will help and support anyone who is willing to put their trust in him. Nobody has to battle on alone and isolated – there is help for us even in the darkest times.

 

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