The Covid-19 virus pandemic lock-down is much longer than first expected. It has disrupted life, rather than put it on pause. But we need not be pessimists.
More people than we’d feared have seen family and friends suffer. It has been impressive to see those on the front line of health and care provision.
Many have had immense difficulties with money. This has led to a spike in the demand for foodbanks and also in the number of homeless as house shares suddenly ended due to the need for self-isolation.
For others it has been a time of huge change in expectations. In our house we’ve been learning a lot in the first month about using what we’ve got. The second month established new routines. But the third month is more challenging: even with some relaxation of social restrictions; even if video calls are made. We now wonder ‘how long this will continue?’ Are things getting better, about the same or getting worse?
To guard against pessimism the Bible encourages us to pray*, for then we are engaging with the God who is at work in the world. ‘Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.’ (Philippians 4v4-6). The apostle encourages thankfulness, as it is not our automatic habit. He reminds us of the nearness of God. God is near in terms of being present with His people. He is also near in a second sense because the return of Jesus Christ is also ‘near’ in time. He is returning for His people to be with Him forever in a new world that has no mourning or crying or pain.
The discipline of prayer enables us to unburden ourselves before God and hand to him the overwhelming situations which cause us anxiety. This is why the consequence is fabulous: ‘And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus’ (v7). We won’t find this peace by another means however many resources we throw at our problems. This peace is a gift from God, who we know is in overall control.
So, let’s be those who pray in every situation and discover God’s peace.
*Note: I have produced a series of talks on ‘How to pray’ based on the Lord’s prayer which can be found on our YouTube channel and also posted on www.christchurchstone.org.