Hope not Fear

From the desk of Rodney Shotter

My father and I used to enjoy watching a comedy programme on TV entitled ‘It ain’t arf hot mum’. It featured a group of ENSA entertainers putting on shows  for troops stationed  in the Far East during the second world war. It was led by a Sergeant Major called Snudge. Of course being a comedy things always went wrong during shows but Snudge’s reply during the ensuing panic was to shout “Have no fear, Snudge is here!”

Today we are still in the grip of the Covid 19 pandemic.  The summer brought some relief but new surges of infections and death has reduced our confidence in the measures of dealing with it. There is a resurgence of fear and dismay for the future. But have no fear, God is here!

 I hear Isaiah shouting to us words from God:

Christians believe that Jesus is with us through all the vicissitudes of life. That through the strengthening power of the Holy Spirit we will prevail, without fear, but with hope because of the firm promises of Jesus.

‘So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.’ Isa. 41:10.

Some may say, ‘Yes.  OK but my friend who is a Christian has got Covid and is seriously ill with it and in a Coma, or like me may say, ‘Why?’, when someone you know who is firm believer dies as a result of Covid infection.  Or, maybe, as a result of restrictions you have lost your source of income. We Christians are not exempt from contagion or loss of income, but we should not fear it because we know the Lord is with us and we stand on his promises. One of these is that Jesus promises he will be with his disciples (believers) always even to the end of the age. (Matt. 20:28). Jesus does not promise that we will be protected from infection of any kind, or loss of a job, but we do read: ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten , that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life Jn.3:16 That is an amazing promise. All we have to do is believe in and trust Jesus – to believe that He is the way the truth and the life (Jn.14:6) and we are assured of life after life. A life free from pain and disease. It promises that whatever we experience in the here and now is of little consequence, except perhaps as a preparation, to a future life in eternity. And that should remove fear, uncertainty and depression from in our lives and give us cause to be thankful and joyful. 

Nevertheless, every Christian needs to take note and act on the Proverb: ‘Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to the body and nourishment to your bones.’ Pvb.3:7-8.

The lockdowns and quarantines we are experiencing as a Nation remind me of when the Israelites were taken into exile to Babylon (2Kings.17).  Both righteous and unrighteous Israelites were in the exiled population.  Interestingly, these righteous individuals never lost their faith or trust  in God during their exile, they kept in touch and connected. It was through their prayers and continued righteousness in exile that God promised restoration.

“For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come to pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity”—Jer.29:11-13.

We Christians have a duty to pray for our nation and the world at this timeWe are called to a life of hope, not fear. And so let us pray for a strengthening of our faith to live this life of hope. For hope and fear are at opposite ends of a pole.  In the midst of their exile many Israelites maintained this atmosphere of hope, that one day they would be restored to Zion, and continued to sincerely worship God.  

We read in Psalm 145:18 ‘The Lord is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth.’

The Lord our God will restore us and heal our Land, but we need to take note of the exhortation in Psm. 33:12 ‘Blessed is the Nation where God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.’

We as a Nation need to turn our sights back onto God. A National Day of Prayer would be a start. At the very least a call for all Christians to come together as one body to pray, not necessarily in the same place or time, but regularly.

Let us be counted among the righteous in this time of exile, and let us pray the prayer: ‘Will you not revive us again that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your unfailing love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation. I will listen to what God the Lord will say; he promises peace to his people, his saints- but let them not return to folly.’ Psm.85:6-8