As a Christian I am supposed to believe - and, indeed do - that God is in his heaven and the world is unfolding as it should.

That the creator and sustainer of the universe has it all under control and that, in the end, all will be well.

That he still loves the world to which he sent his only son as a sacrifice for sin; and that he hasn't turned - and won't ever turn - his back on us.

But I have to admit that sometimes that belief is stretched almost to breaking point. And this is one of those times.

All around me I see chaos - locally, nationally and around the world. Everywhere I look there is murder and mayhem, violence and brutality, poverty and abuse, starvation and sickness, war and hatred, ignorance and illiteracy, greed and exploitation.

And most of those things are lurking right here on my doorstep.

I cringe when I read that two poor little mites - twin boys just three months old - have been beaten to death.

I cringe when I read that a veteran schoolteacher, who devoted her life to educating children, has suffered a similar fate.

I cringe when I read of a 19-year-old man gunned down and another young man wounded in a gang shootout.

I cringe when I read of the rising tide of poverty in this blessed and well-endowed country and that 8 per cent of our population - more than 330,000 people - are considered to be suffering "severe hardship".

And that was in 2004; there will be many more now.

I cringe when I read that family violence is epidemic and that each year police receive more than 45,000 calls relating to domestic violence, involving more than 200,000 people. And that the number of recorded assaults by men against women continues to increase; there were 7526 last year - more than 20 every day.

And then, as I leaf through the pages of this newspaper with increasing dismay, there comes a flash of brilliant analysis - and my hope revives.

In this case it was Guy Body's cartoon on Tuesday in which he depicts a corpse on the ground being inspected by two policemen. "Not another murder?" asks one. "Hard to say - this one's been dead quite a while," responds the other. The corpse is labelled "community".

And I cheer up a bit because I know that at least one other New Zealander recognises and understands the reality: that our nation has lost its sense of community and therein lies the kernel of all our grief.

There are, of course, hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders who either know or intuit this is the case, and many of them proclaim it unceasingly.

The trouble is that nobody - particularly those in a position to do something about it - takes any notice.

Then I turn another page and I get angry when I read that hospitals are turning away patients because they can't cope with the annual winter influx of illnesses; and I rail yet again at the mismanagement that leaves them bogged down with paper-shufflers and short of frontline staff, facilities and equipment.

I get angry when I read Treasury thinks the cost of fighting crime, at $9.1 billion, is too much and the very next day suggests money could be saved by allowing minor crime to go unpunished.

This in the face of overwhelming evidence, from the United States in particular, that cracking down on petty crime - the introduction of the so-called "broken windows" and "zero tolerance" policies - caused rates of both petty and serious crime to fall suddenly and significantly, and to continue to drop for the following 10 years.

This is the same Treasury, incidentally, that is about to rob us of our 5c coins because its bean-counters - bureaucrats with calculators for hearts - want to save a few cents and have chosen to save them five at a time. Guess who'll pay in the long run?

Yet we have allowed it to happen without so much as a whimper.

When a nation won't even fight to keep its coinage, there isn't much hope, is there?

I get angry when I see the local councils talking about large rates increases, striking fear into the hearts of those on fixed incomes and pensioners in particular, because for decades councillors have bought their way back into power by underspending on the basics - roads, footpaths, water supply, sewerage, rubbish collection, parks and libraries - and by providing the city with expensive luxuries.

I get angry when I see the exploiters of the oil industry hike the price of petrol to a point where it will bring hardship to many of our poorer citizens.

And as if all that isn't enough, there is nothing but bad news coming in on the international wires.

The latest is the new outbreak of ignorance, bigotry, hatred and barbarism in Israel and Lebanon, which is just another episode in a continuing saga.

Once again Guy Body nailed it superbly with his cartoon of an Israelite and an Arab slugging it out with clubs in 8 billion AD.

He got it right: There will never be peace in the Middle East between Israel and its neighbours, at least not until Christ returns in all his power and glory to rule the Earth. I just hope he doesn't wait 8 billion years.

In the meantime, I guess, as that great Israelite leader Joshua once said: "As for me and my house, we will [continue to] serve the Lord."