3rd May 2020
There’s a well known maxim by which some of us live our lives: “Why pray when you can worry?” In contrast, when Paul was in prison and in chains, he wrote to the church at Philippi, “Don’t worry about anything: instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done.”(Phil. 4:6)
That’s a challenge to our lives and to a broken world, is God really in control? Especially, at this time of a global pandemic and of necessary but wearing lockdown restrictions, where fears and worries for our lives, livelihoods and future of all those whom we love grow rapidly in the hot-house of isolation and lockdown.
Pandemic has introduced great uncertainty to areas which we normally try to manage: our financial security, our future plans. It’s shattered the idea that we are rulers of our own destinies. Following constant news coverage or rechecking the infection curve and daily statistics, or doing all we can to keep in contact with people locally and helping in wee practical ways, all can provide temporary reassurance – a feeling that we are one step ahead. But for Christians, there is an extraordinary assurance that we are not in ultimate control.
In Psalm 121, sung by pilgrims wearily travelling to worship in Jerusalem, along a dangerous path, wondering where to look for help, they remembered God’s promise to “watch over your coming and going both now and for evermore.” God is like a watchman who cares for the city during the night, who never tires. For us too, God’s careful watch promises to cover our whole lives – and deaths – until the end of the age and beyond. Instead of anxiously trying to keep on top of the latest Covid 19 news, turn your eyes upon Jesus instead. This week, why not open your bible before checking your phone each morning, memorise Psalm 121, take breaks from the news, or use your daily exercise to pray as you walk? As we fix our eyes upon Jesus, we can rest secure in the knowledge that God Himself keeps His eyes on us.
Prayer is about opening ourselves to God’s presence and power and possibilities. President Abraham Lincoln, during their Civil War, wrote, “I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for the day.” Jesus made time to pray and taught His followers that we should come to God like children to a perfect father, trusting in his love and power. I do not ask, Lord, that You will think my thoughts for me or do my work for me, but that You will help me: so that what is too hard for me to do alone, and what is too difficult for me to understand by myself, I may be able to do and to understand because You are with me. Teach me to think of Jesus as one who is always by my side. Amen.