As we consider the major events of 2021 it would be difficult not to include the impact of Covid-19 – both the impact of the disease itself and restrictions imposed by governments. As I reflect on almost two years of the pandemic it would be easy to pick out and focus in on all of the negative aspects, there are plenty after all! However, in amongst our frustrations I think we should also be asking ‘What is God teaching me through this?’ My personal reflections on this are many; here are three:
God is in control
There is a temptation to slip into a mindset that we are in control of everything, and a corresponding urge to micro-manage those things which appear to be getting out of control; that human authority, money and knowledge make the world go round, and are the solutions to most problems.
Except that Coronavirus, this microscopic organism, has brought all of our lives to an abrupt halt irrespective of our earthy standing or wealth. Authority, money, and knowledge – by God’s grace – produced vaccines which have brought respite for most, but only respite. We were reminded on Sunday that with weakening virus variants, God has and will give the immunity that vaccines and medical advances are unable to provide.
The pandemic has been a reminder that God is in control. The Bible declares that not only does God sustain all things (Hebrews 1; Colossians 1:15-18), but governments and authorities have been placed where they are by God (Romans 13:1).
Live Day by Day
I think perhaps I had become too comfortable and content with my life, complacent even; that to an extent I had claimed the good things that God had given me, and I was taking them for granted.
The pandemic and imposed restrictions have been a wake-up call; a stark reminder of the fragility of life, and a call to refocus on those things which are important. At various stages during the last two years I haven’t been able to plan into the following week, never mind the following year. Whilst this has been a real challenge, it has compelled me to live day by day, week by week.
Throughout the Bible, God teaches us to live one day at a time, trusting Him – God’s daily provision of manna for the Israelites in the wilderness is just one example. When Jesus taught his disciples to pray he said:
“Pray like this:
Our Father in heaven,Matthew 6:9-13
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”
‘Give us today our daily bread’ has really stuck with me.
Don’t get me wrong, making plans is good and right. However, once formed we should live day by day, our eyes fixed on Jesus. Once, by God’s grace, our plans are realised we should guard against massaging our ego with what we have achieved, and instead give thanks to God for His faithfulness and provision, taking nothing for granted.
Give us today our daily bread.
Focus on People not Statistics
We’ve been bombarded with statistics every day. Total confirmed cases, cases per 100,000 people, people in hospital, vaccine doses given to name just a few. However, it is the deaths within 28 days which has most troubled me.
You see, in having the deaths within 28 days statistic pushed at me every day I have become desensitised to the fact that thousands and thousands of people have lost their lives, some of whom were saved and some who were lost.
Jesus declared “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10
The apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans, urges us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15
As I continue to be bombarded with statistics, as I continue to struggle with some aspects of our government’s response, I have also been challenged to focus on people not statistics; to become emboldened to share the gospel, to try and walk side by side with my neighbours and colleagues, to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep, and to mourn the lost. To try as hard as I can to not become desensitised by statistics and to focus on people.
Resignation of Australia’s (NSW) Premier
In the month of October 2021 my son in Australia told me he was disappointed about the resignation of his premier as he felt she had been a very good leader.
The news story was about Sydney’s Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, her resignation, and her relationship with a disgraced former MP, Daryl Macguire the man at the centre of a corruption case.
It sounded like trial by media had forced her to “do the right thing”. We can be too ready to listen to false accusations and make judgments, sometimes wrong ones!
Sadly, there are many similar examples, particularly of anyone who governs or is a leader, becoming a target for malicious stories.
In Gladys Berejiklian’s case, we shall never know the absolute truth about how much she knew or was unaware of her partner’s dealings or whether this is yet another attempt at wrongfully smearing someone’s reputation in order to defeat them. She said she could not be a hypocrite and ask others to resign in similar situations without acting with integrity herself, and so she resigned.
Ultimately, only God can really be the judge and know the truth in someone’s heart and their honest or dishonest intentions.
Looking at Jesus’ situation how completely innocent he was yet falsely tried and made to suffer so much pain and humiliation for our sakes! God saw his heart. Jesus wasn’t defeated.
The hope for us is that no matter what we have done wrong – whether seen by others or hidden in our hearts, whether accidental or intentional acts – God knows the truth. He has so much mercy and grace for each of us when we genuinely ask to be forgiven. He sees into our hearts where others cannot. He lifts us from defeat.
How Should We React to Today’s News?
Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings who cannot save……..Blessed are those whose hope in the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.Psalm 146: v3-5
We are saddened as we reflect on the news stories of today, whether it be the Maxwell court case, the horrific stories of child abuse and murder, the Prince Andrew and Virginia Roberts case, the bestowal of honours on those who misled us and many other stories of government mistakes and failed promises. Many will ask simply, why?
A recent article in the Guardian pointed out that those of us who have faith can simply point to human failings and sinfulness, whereas those who try to attribute these failings to social circumstances and poor parenting are really struggling to come to terms with the question and to provide any meaningful answers.
As Christians we also reflect that we too need to be aware of our own failings, our utter helplessness, and our need to turn to God and ask for His help and forgiveness and to put our trust in Him. Those who lead us will fail, sometimes spectacularly and they need our prayers that they will turn to the one who can rescue them and provide them with hope.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.Romans 12:12