Prior’s Reflection 2020
I hope you are all staying safe and well. I wanted to send a message in the context of these challenging times.
Despite the desperation of so many people struggling to come to terms with the impact of Covid-19, I don’t perceive an absence of God in what is happening in the world today - quite the opposite. It is a great leveller; almost a “factory reset” for humanity in terms of who and what we value, what we need, and in whom we place our trust. I believe that a biblical event is unfolding; not the end of the world as some would have us believe, but a preparation for better things to come when we are in a position to receive them. The world will have taken a step closer to the Kingdom of God when this is over, and those who have died to bring it about are surely in a better place and understanding that their mortal fears were misplaced.
- What a wonderful God we have—he is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does he do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us. You can be sure that the more we undergo sufferings for Christ, the more he will shower us with his comfort and encouragement. (2 Corinthians 1:3–5).
- We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed and broken. We are perplexed because we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we keep going. These bodies of ours are constantly facing death just as Jesus did; so it is clear to all that it is only the living Christ within who keeps us safe. That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our inner strength in the Lord is growing every day. (2 Corinthians 4:8-10,16).
On a day to day basis it is easier to connect with the New Testament; it is a simpler message to understand and more closely reflects our 21st century lives. The Old Testament messages are more difficult as they are clouded by outdated sociological values, but there are some wonderfully comforting and transformative messages for us in times of crisis. Consider Isaiah with his message of hope for the future of humanity:
- So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. For I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs. I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set pines in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together, so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this. (Isaiah 41: 10-13, 17-20).
At times such as we are facing today I see the messages of the Old and New Testaments coming together in a way they seldom do. We are mortal and we are weak, we can be wiped out in a moment and our only true help is to trust in God and look to what follows. And yet, if we want proof of the presence of God, we see it most clearly in the kindness and sacrifice of individual people who have adopted the principles of the Gospel.
We will be together again soon. Let us keep in our prayers those of us who are unwell, and those who work to heal us, both spiritually and physically. Most of all, believe now more than ever in the awesome power of God, the salvation of the risen Christ, and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. And let us not be afraid to pass that message of hope to anyone who needs it at this time.
God bless us all