Written by Rev Canon Nigel Mason
There is no doubt that we are living in a period of uncertainty as the impact of Covid 19 continues to affect the way that we live our lives. As I write, the optimism of moving towards a loosening of the restrictions is being dampened by concerns that we could be heading towards the reintroduction of other measures to prevent further spread of the virus.
This uncertainty, along with various scientific and economic opinions, has made it difficult for governments around the world to know how best to go forward; these are difficult times.
In recent days, we have witnessed on our screens the horrific explosion in Beirut that has left many dead, injured and homeless; it has been both devastating and heart-breaking.
There is no doubt we live in a world that is beautiful, wonderful and amazing, but as we have seen it can also appear unpredictable and dangerous.
We hope and pray that such occasions are limited and of course, we wish they didn’t happen at all. However, when they do, what are our support mechanisms for dealing with these sudden and unexpected events?
Many of us look to our families, friends and neighbours to be there to support us, both in practical and emotional terms. At some of our most desperate times, we have been carried and helped by those close to us.
This support and care, we have also seen at a wider level. Within our communities we have been blessed by those who have expressed concern for those lonely and in need. Many have given of their heart and time to serve those who are vulnerable in different ways. Jesus would refer to this as “loving your neighbour as yourself.”
Another means of support has been our spiritual nature; interestingly, in the opening weeks of the Covid-19 restrictions, during a period particular uncertainty and when so much was in lock-down, including our church doors, the BBC on the Sunday morning transmitted a service from a cathedral. Viewing figures for this were estimated at just over 5 million, which a quarter was young people. At times of concern people do turn and look to God to provide hope, comfort and assurance
During my daily time of prayer and reflection I was reading about a man called Jeremiah. He was someone who was living in difficult times. His world had been effectively turned upside down and he and his community were facing uncertain times ahead. It was the 6th century BC and his nation was living in a time of despair. He had survived the experience of seeing his city, Jerusalem, decimated and turned to rubble by a Babylonian army; all around him was destruction. Soon, he and they would be taken from their land and forcibly taken to another land; their way of life gone forever.
It would have been easy, even understandable for him to believe he had been abandoned by God. He may well ask, where is God in all this mess? And yet, his experience of God meant he would pronounce these words.
“Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassion's never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for him.”
As he experienced great uncertainty, he continued to hold on to and believe in a God who remained certain and sure at all times.
As we live our lives let us, if we feel able, put our faith and hope in God; a sentiment reflected in an old familiar hymn:
O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.