As the ‘second wave’ of Covid-19 intensifies, nearly one quarter of the UK’s population is back under lockdown and much of the rest of the country is threatened with it. So far, rural areas are less affected, but everywhere is seeing the loss of jobs and businesses. For all of us, any return to ‘life as we knew it’ is some way off, if ever. And, with the coming cold and dark days of winter, feelings of uncertainty, isolation, loneliness and fear will increase, especially if contact with family and friends and support networks is denied.
In such troubled times, how are we to be faithful followers of Jesus and lights to the world? Here are some suggestions.
Protection, provision and peace. We need to know, and pray for those around us to know, the Lord’s protection (Psalm 46: 1-3), provision (Psalm 37:19) and, above all, His peace. And, as Jesus (John 14:27) and Paul (Philippians 4:7) made clear, His peace does not depend on ‘all being right with the world’, but on our being ‘right with God’ (Romans 5:1).
Patient endurance. Throughout scripture, we are urged to be patient, especially in times of trouble (eg Romans 12:12). Many are seeing in the current global pandemic signs of the ‘end times’: when Jesus set out the signs that would precede His return, he urged us to respond with patient endurance – by which we shall ‘gain our lives’ or ‘save our souls’ (Luke 21:19; Matthew 24:13; Mark 13:3).
Perseverance in prayer. Like any adversity, the current situation calls us to persevere in prayer, yet to do so with thanksgiving and rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Jesus urged us to persist in prayer (Luke 11:5-13, 18:1-8). Many of the Psalms were written as prayers in times of trouble and provide rich resources to inform our own prayers (eg Psalms 46, 91, 142).
Personal discipline. As well as prayer, we need to do what we can to keep fit and well physically (and strengthen our immune system) (1 Corinthians 9:24-27), to study God’s word (2 Timothy 2:15) and understand the times (1 Chronicles 12:32), and to connect with His creation and the changing seasons (Psalm 19:1-6, 104). Further, as far as possible, we need both ‘time alone’ and ‘time together’, both regular solitude (in the ‘inner room’ or a ‘desert place’) and regular fellowship (albeit it at present largely online).
Practical preparation. Finally, we need to be wise and prepared for what may be to come (Proverbs 21:20, 27:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:6), to put our affairs in order, and to provide for (physically and spiritually) those entrusted to us (Matthew 24:45-46).