REFLECTIONS & ENCOURAGEMENTS: understanding and growing through the covid-19 challenge.
Bishop Peter Brain Reflection 32: Pandemic bonuses
This week I have been mindful of some wonderful bounties that have been highlighted by the pandemic. Please do not think that I am trivialising the suffering, nor engaging in the trite sayings it is only too easy to engage in. Throw away lines like don’t worry, every cloud has a silver lining or there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, are never helpful nor kind, since they usually flow from feeling helpless and that we have to say something. Apart from that we know that the light at the end of the tunnel is often the train coming! The bonuses I’m thinking of, are things that I may not have appreciated, noticed or given a second thought to, which have heartened, corrected or caused me to either thank God or pray for others. Here are a few:
- Phone calls, visits and notes from friends are always a blessing. Last week Graham sent me a text of a comment Martin Luther had made when he was facing a situation similar to ours: With God’s permission the enemy has sent poison and dung among us, and so I will pray to God that he will be gracious and preserve us. Then I will fumigate and purify the air, give and take medicine, and avoid places and persons where I am not needed in order that I may not abuse myself and that through me others may not be infected and inflamed with the result that I become the cause of their death through my negligence. If God wishes to take me, he will be able to find me. At least I Have done what he gave me to do and am responsible neither for my own death nor the death of others. But if my neighbour needs me, I shall avoid neither person nor place, but feel free to visit and help him (Luther: Letters of Spiritual Counsel. 1527). The balance of Luther’s wise counsel is apt and timely. I don’t think he would have seen last night’s football as either wise or helpful! But it was good to be reminded of my duty to others at times of their distress, personal or global.
- The Langham Partnership email news alerted me to the opportunity of attending Keswick. Virtually Keswick, with Christopher Wright speaking (bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qnds/episodes/player) and Christopher Ash with Bible readings from the Psalms on Hope in Jesus (27th-31st July). A treat without cost of travel, admittedly without the attendant fellowship and singing. As I write, perhaps we could invite a few friends (properly socially distanced) to enjoy this bounty. (email@example.com)
- Persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ are our most reliable teachers and examples in times like this. I was greatly heartened to read in the Open Doors Online, notes of the prayers and responses of our Yemeni fellows suffering not only the pandemic and persecution but chronic hunger and devastation of war.
Maritza*(named changed) writes “It Has Brought Us Closer To Him”
“We pray for each other that the Lord Jesus will deliver us from this pandemic. It has brought us closer to Him and brought us closer together as His children in Yemen. We’re trying to spend more time with our children, teaching them and praying together and praying for the salvation of our people.
Naser* writes “We Will Pass Through This”
“I and many others are feeling the great pressure that the spread of this virus has added to our lives. But when I search, I find that we, believers, carry hope that helps us with the uncertainty that tomorrow will be better and that by the will of our Lord we will pass through this and all the anxieties and fears surrounding us.”
Takia* writes “We Feel His Mercy And Closeness”
“Even in light of the difficult conditions we’re facing, we feel that the Lord Jesus is with us. We feel His mercy and closeness to us. A lot of people complain about emptiness and boredom because of the need to stay home more, but I’ve found it to be a valuable opportunity to pray, draw closer to God and feel the affection of His hand outstretched to His children.”
These are bounties that I need to keep me thankful to God for His promised grace in all circumstances (Heb. 4:16 & 2 Cor. 12:8-10) by helping to keep me from discontent and self-pity and granting me grace to grasp the opportunity for a witness, similarly winsome and Christlike. Drawing, even dragging from me, generosity and thankfulness to God for all His benefits, both temporal and eternal. Bonuses indeed.
Peter Brain 18th July, 2020