Reflections from a “vulnerable” Grandad confined to home.
Context: 24th March 2020.
On level three alert and preparing for level 4. The News Channels pump out the national and global statistics of the COVID -19 pandemic. The contagion in Europe is mind boggling. Italy, Spain and France seem to be competing in a race to “score” the most confirmed cases and casualties. The army trucks are on a slow march to the crematoria.
Even in our Land of the LongWhite Cloud, 40 new confirmed cases, plus two more probable in just 24 hours. Total today has reached 151 and rising. Four are community transmission. Six are stable in hospital level care. Twelve have recovered.
What is happening to our communities, our nation and planet earth?
Human fear and anxiety are pushing the trolleys of panic buying. Selfish instincts have kicked in for some. The hoarders ignore the needs of those who have liquidity only for a couple of days. How sad for the new mother desperately in need of infant formula. The sin of selfishness is always a reality for those who have not found the God given peace through faith in Jesus Christ.
A Historical perspective:
Living with anxiety and fear of the unknown is not new. My parents were married on 1st August 1942. My Dad, Frank, was on final leave from the army. He was to spend the next two years with the army in the Pacific War against the Japanese Imperial Army. Thankfully he survived being a Gunner on an Anti-Aircraft Artillery defending the Allied landing strips.
My mother, Nancy, returned home to live with her parents and younger siblings. She continued working in the Bruce Woollen Mill. Their wedding photo is precious, Dad in army uniform, his original choice of best man was already flying Bombers over Italy. Mum’s twin brother stepped into the breach. Mum at four feet eleven and a half inches looks radiant in her white dress with her best friend as bridesmaid. Their honeymoon was delayed two and half years. Returned soldiers were given free tickets on New Zealand Railway for two weeks. My mother was a woman of deep faith, which enabled her to live with natural anxiety, wondering whether her husband would come back and what shape he would be in.
Psalm 46 reflects on a world in chaos, natural disasters, earthquakes and war. Yet this wonderful prayer begins with God. “God is our refuge and strength, and ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear ……”This is a Godly world view, not a sceptical agnosticism, nor a secular ideology of personal rights.
Fear is a God given alert system about potential risk. The human classic responses to danger are usually described as “fight, flee or freeze.” The prayer of the Psalm invites us is to get focused on God, who has been the refuge and strength of countless Jews and Christians for centuries. Our contemporary culture is largely dominated by secularism. Christians and agnostics alike have subtly been seduced by pop psychology, to react or respond to our emotions and personal experience. This pandemic “lock down” gives us the opportunity to go deeper in our relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. We are invited to stand against the temptation to react in fear, or to become anxious or to potentially developmental health problems.
“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.”
Holy God, Creator of the Universe, you have been faithful through the course of history. You have been the Refuge to shelter many from the storms of life, persecution, wars, drought and pandemics. We join with your people of every age singing your praise and giving you glory in our worship and daily living.
We praise you for Jesus Christ crucified, risen and ascended, you give us hope in life and in death. We humbly come to you confessing that sometimes we allow our natural anxiety and fear to control our thoughts, words and actions. Too often we react impatiently toward those around us.Too often we leap to justify ourselves. Too often we react and cause tensions in our relationships. Too often we allow our selfishness to dominate over caring for the needs of others in our homes and community.
Risen Lord Jesus, in your mercy hear our humble confessions. Grant us your assurance of forgiveness of our sins, in your beautiful name. We praise you that you won the victory over evil and death on the cross of Calvary. God raised you to Resurrection life to give us hope in this life and for eternity.
Come Holy Spirit, empower us to live in Jesus’ victory, whether we live or die because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We thank you for the Hope you give us in this broken world. Refresh us each day from the streams of the river flowing from the city of God. Help us to build hope in this broken world.
We pray that amidst this pandemic alert, your people in every continent will exalt your Holy name, through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Go well in the Lord my friends.