No, I am not talking about ‘War of the Worlds’ or some other space science fiction programme but I am thinking about our present day situation of Covid-19 were we are being told to stay in our homes ‘self-isolate’ or to keep our distance from each other now referred to as ‘social distancing’.
This can make a person feel very lonely, separated from friends and family, missing out on birthdays or other social gatherings. Even if we have lived by ourselves in normal times, we were not necessarily housebound, we could venture out, we could have visitors.
With everything that is going on at the minute many people are feeling lonely, anxious and afraid but we as Christians are part of God’s family, we may not be able to meet together as a church but He has promised never to leave us no matter what the circumstances.
In Hebrews 13 v 5 it says
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Similarly, in Deuteronomy 31 v 8 it says
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
And perhaps the best-known Psalm, in Psalm 23 He again spells it out
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
In 2018 Geoff took us through the story of Joseph and despite the circumstances that he found himself in, Joseph had God’s promise that the Lord would be with him. The Bible tells us that the Lord was with Joseph, but that didn’t exempt him from jealousy and betrayal, or the advances of Potiphar’s wife, or her lies that sent him to prison.
Our trial at this time is taking on a different form but we can still praise God for who He is and cling to His promise to never leave us or forsake us. Even though we are stuck in the vicinity of our homes, your neighbours, your family who live with you or the carers that come to help you are aware that you are a Christian and they will be looking at you to see how you are reacting in the current pandemic. Are you panicking, all gloom and doom or are you rejoicing that you have a God who loves you and strengthens you in all circumstances?
Joseph didn’t know it, but he was in training for reigning. God wanted to see how he would react in challenging circumstances. The lesson Joseph learned is this: God is with you even when there is no evidence He is. He is walking alongside you. He is working with you. He is going ahead of you. He holds you in His hand. He carries you. But sometimes in the plan of God things get worse before they get better. That’s when you must tighten your grip and lean harder on God.
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
Hebrews 10 v 35-36
So, we are not alone but we can feel anxious, concerned not just for ourselves but our family, friends, and those without hope who do not know the God that we know.
In Philippians 4 v 6-7 it says
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Again, in the Psalms, Psalm 46
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah. Come and see the works of the LORD, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire. “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
Whenever we are anxious or concerned knowing God’s peace in our lives as His children is a wonderful thing. In 1 Peter 5 v 7 it says
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
What a privilege, but how do I do this, through prayer! When you become aware that you’re starting to worry or to be anxious and losing your sense of peace, take it to God immediately and leave it with Him. Don’t give the devil a foothold. The longer you wait, the greater his hold over you becomes. In theory it seems straightforward but in practice we do find it difficult to leave it with God. So often we pray about something that concerns us and ask God to work and instead of leaving it with Him, we pick it up again and take it away with us.
A couple of things that can help, but need practice, are:
- Give it to God, pray about it, and then start to focus on other things. In other words, redirect your thoughts. Paul writes in Philippians 4 v 8
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things
- Find out what God says in His Word about your situation. The Bible is our guidebook for living so follow His guidance and when you do this, God has promised in Philippians 4 v 7
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Personally, I find the Christian walk to have its ups and downs, I can find myself very close to God and really enjoying His presence, life is great, then I get distracted by events, situations and I take my eyes of Him and all of a sudden I find myself in the doldrums, where has God gone, why has He deserted me and left me in this predicament and at this time with the Covid-19 pandemic that is where some people, saved and unsaved, find themselves, lost and afraid.
So, if that is where you find yourself, the best thing you can do is cry out to God from the depths of your being. Don’t worry about looking undignified, or having people think you have no faith. Every parent knows the difference between a cry of temper or attention seeking and a cry of distress. God is our Heavenly Father so how much more will He recognise our need, so, when you feel lost and afraid, touching rock-bottom, cry out to God.
The psalmist said, in Psalm 18 v 6, 16-19
6 In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help.
16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.
It also says in Psalm 9 v 9-10
The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.
Remember God is our rock and it is us who move away from Him, not the other way around.
2 Corinthians 1:3,4
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
I close with that well-known poem – The Footprints Prayer.
The Footprints Prayer is an inspirational poem about having faith in God. Also known as Footprints in The Sand, this prayer shows how God is always with us, especially in times of need and when we feel that we have been abandoned.
The Footprints Prayer
One night I had a dream…
I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord, and across the sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; One belonged to me, and the other to the Lord. When the last scene of my life flashed before us, I looked back at the footprints in the sand. I noticed that many times along the path of my life, there was only one set of footprints.
I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in my life. This really bothered me, and I questioned the Lord about it. “Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, You would walk with me all the way; But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, There is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why in times when I needed you the most, you should leave me.
The Lord replied, “My precious, precious child. I love you, and I would never, never leave you during your times of trial and suffering. When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.
Remember you are not alone and God, our Heavenly Father, is always there for us.
Stay safe, follow the rules and pray for each other. God Bless.