I want to start by wishing you all a happy New Year! Although I think you will agree 2021 has certainly not started in the way we hoped it would. I’m sure that after the pain of not being with family at Christmas and the promise of a vaccine, we were all hoping for a better start.
Discovering that we were going into Lockdown again the night before our children were due to start back at school was too much to process at first. Having already laid out their uniforms and made their packed lunch, it was a shock that we would now be juggling home schooling and work again. Others will now be unable to work at all, some returning to working from home again and others struggling to keep up with the added pressure a lockdown brings. For others it means the isolation will increase and their visitors or opportunities to meet with others in person will vanish. I certainly wasn’t prepared for it, having chosen to steer clear of the news for a while.
So what do we do?
Where do we look in a situation like this? What comfort can we find in our various restricted circumstances. Well a friend sent me a verse from Psalm 91, and its tenderness surprised and comforted me. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.
The start of the Psalm 91:1-4 reads:
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’
Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart
Strange but true
Believe it or not, these words are about God. Yet it is a strange way to refer to our Father in heaven isn’t it? A Father who like a mother hen protects and cares for her chicks. It shouldn’t surprise us that God is bigger and better than the language we use, or the categories we think in, after all he is the creator God and we are his creatures. It is wonderful that in God’s perfect love he is more than the sum of a mother or father’s love. In his love God chose to communicate with us through many authors and genres, including records of historical events, poetry and prophecy. Then there are the stories and parables that Jesus used, God has used words, events and imagery we can understand and comprehend to convey something beyond our comprehension. So yes God is like a mother hen, or an eagle protecting it’s young. God is the ultimate refuge, the most secure ‘place’ on earth.
Too good to be true
Then we add to the wonderful imagery a promise that seems too good to be true. You can probably guess the part that I am referring to: Surely he will save you…from the deadly pestilence. If there was ever a time we needed to be saved from a deadly disease it is now. Yet unlike some people who falsely claim that Christians will not suffer, Jesus is clear that this life will never be free from pain or distress.
So is God our refuge or not?
Jesus certainly is our only hope in life and death, no matter what situation we find ourselves in. He will certainly bring us his protect and save us, however the final deliverance comes when Jesus returns. At the moment it is like waiting for the kettle to boil. We know it is going to happen and when it does our wait will be over but the time has not yet arrived. By the way I am not comparing Jesus’ return to a nice cup of tea, I don’t even drink tea, what I am doing is trying to remind us that it could be that soon.
Everything will change
When Jesus does return everything will change, for those who love him there will be no Covid, no disease, no dementia, no cancer, no death. When Jesus returns to gather his people there will be no pain or sadness, no isolation or loneliness, only constant family gatherings in a family made up of multitudes, who no longer have to socially distance. So in the mean time we can rest in the truth that nothing, no virus, not even death can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. We can find comfort in his motherly loves and refuge. We can find security in his ultimate power and authority. We can be consoled in our loneliness knowing that Jesus is God with us, now and forever. Maybe 2021 will be the year we welcome Jesus back, or maybe we will just be that much closer to his return. The good news is that he promises to be with us whilst we wait.