As spring is in the air, and snowdrops are bursting out, hopes rise for a better year ahead after so much trauma and fear.
As we look forward to each new day as a gift of God (remember God’s present is God presence with us now), it is time to look away from what is thrown at us hour after hour in the media, and start looking up to the Lord who loves us and is with us.
A colleague shared that last year when the epidemic was rising so fast, as he left to go on a prayer walk in the city where he lives, his first overwhelming experience was a wave of fear. Then, as he paused, he said he heard as distinctly as he had ever heard, the voice of God speaking quietly to him: ”Where is your faith? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?”(Luke 8:25, Matthew 6:27).Or, The Message “why can’t you trust me?”
This virus has brought an attack on our minds as well as our bodies: listening to the media can condition us into thinking that God doesn’t care; but He does. If we believe that God exists, that He rewards those who earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11:6), and that He loves us and is in us because we invited him, why would we choose fear instead of faith? Either we do trust Him or we don’t; if we do, we will look into His glorious face, marvel at His promises to us, and relax and choose to trust that He is with us through this storm. And even if we succumb to this or to any other illness that befalls us, we have our citizenship in heaven, which is our destination, so why spend hours worrying about what may not happen, and knowing where we are headed?
A word for this time I think is “endurance”: many of us have had to endure all sorts of things in life’s journey, and Jesus has been with us all the time, whether we recognise Him or not. When our lives are undergirded with His Word and His promises, we are called to persevere. Enduring hardship is part of life: we have a Saviour who endured the cross, who was raised from the dead who lives now and is in us; and the Holy Spirit within us gives us the power to keep going, to keep looking up, to choose faith not fear.
Sometimes I have found myself assailed at night in my dreams or sleeping lightly, and had doubts coming at me like arrows; I have learned to praise the Lord, and worship him, even in those semi-conscious moments, and as time has passed, as soon as those attacks arise, it is easier to praise Him because that is my “default” – and the peace comes. That has been so particularly in these last 12 months, but the secret is always, to set my mind on things that are above, where Christ is seated, at the right hand of God. We all have choices to make – choosing faith, not fear, and realising this is a long haul, but an hour at a time, where we can sink or choose to rise above the “slough of despond” as John Bunyan put it in “Pilgrim’s Progress,” through trusting Jesus.
The next few weeks, we will continue to have our Sunday worship online, until the situation improves and we are able to meet together to worship – we have published our February worship rota without the service times, but at least you all have the Sunday Bible readings and possible sermon titles; and should the miracle happen and the virus die away – as they do – the usual pattern will re-commence and we will get the information to you quickly.
Lent is almost upon us, and elsewhere we are publishing what we are going to do online for you all – we hope a lot of you will join in on “Zoom.” Do not worry.. do not fear.. God is with us.
Blessings in Jesus,