If someone had told me a month ago that the world would come to a near standstill, I would not only have ridiculed the unfortunate individual but also concluded he /she was suffering from temporary insanity. Up to one hundred and fifty-one countries are under attack from an invisible enemy that cares not about age or who/what you are. Rich and poor, young and old, all are at risk.
During the past couple of weeks, I’ve at times wondered whether humankind is being punished for something – greed, gross inequality, excessive decadence, taking pleasure in oppressing those less fortunate, vanity, untold arrogance and pride, and for those at the very top, a futile belief in their own invincibility, to name just a few of our calamitous faults.
But the reality is that our God isn’t like that. He is patient, compassionate, and forever loving and kind.
‘With everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you, says the Lord your redeemer.’
Isaiah 54 vs 9
Whatever the cause of this unprecedented pandemic, we can be rest assured of two things;
1. It most definitely isn’t from God.
2. We can always rest in his everlasting kindness.
The challenge for many of us is that we still have the same expectations as those biblical followers of Jesus. They expected, or more accurately desired a great warrior-king, a leader of miraculous signs and wonders. It is our thirst for signs and wonders that tempts many of us to attribute some kind of divine hand or imprint to this present situation – ‘is this from God, or did God allow it in order to teach us a lesson? When will God reveal his miraculous hand? Etc’.
Thanks in no small part to a church connect group, I learned something new and hopefully life changing this week. In Luke 24, when Jesus joined Cleopas and his companion (sorry, no idea who the other chap was) during their walk to Emmaus, their description of him is an apt example of our conscious / subconscious search and longing for miracles, signs, and wonders; an inherent desire for demonstrations of power and might.
‘He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.’
Luke 24 vs 19 – 21
In other words, they had hoped he was something more. A great and mighty warrior that would deliver them from oppression maybe?
Last week, a few days before the UK lock down, a close friend called me, and as soon as I answered, she said;
“Hey Segs, I’ve made a list of a few individuals I’ll be frequently checking up on during this period, and you’re one of them, so be warned.”
As someone that at times experiences periods of feeling a little low, those words were very comforting. And for me, they represent how our God of everlasting kindness wants us to be.
This is an opportunity to take a pause and recognise what is most important – loving our neighbour as we do ourselves.
Let’s focus more on the things that truly matter.
– praying for God to comfort those who have lost loved ones
– praying for those struggling to cope during this period of lock down
– praying for those who are sick to get better
What matters is the here and now, how we can help those in need; remembering those we don’t know in our prayers, and dedicating more time to calling or messaging those we do know.
Loving, kind, patient, forgiving, selfless, compassionate – this is who God is, and it is who he has called us to be.