The last year and a bit have been hard for many, many people. Even for some of us oldies (I’m pushing 63 myself), it has been a time unlike any other we can remember. The huge change since early 2020 has been a shock to the system. Early on things were changing rapidly, but as the months wore on, so many of us became tired, so very tired. Now, there is hope that the darkest days are generally behind us, though thousands upon thousands of families have lost loved ones and many who have had Covid-19 are still struggling with ongoing symptoms. For some, such difficulties are still to come.
So where has God been in all this? For Christians, this sort of question is difficult to answer. I don’t think any Christian can honestly say they have the complete answer.
However, we do know someone who does and it is someone who has suffered immense pain and suffering himself. The bible teaches that Jesus was “in very nature God”, yet was born as a human being into this world where there was so much pain and suffering. He knew and knows what it is to suffer.
There was a state-sponsored attempt on his life as a baby, he was a refugee as a baby, he was brought up in an ordinary family in an occupied country and when he began his public ministry around the age of 30 he had “nowhere to lay his head”. He was betrayed by a close friend, arrested, beaten, scourged and then nailed to a cross to die a horrific death. On top of that was something that we struggle to understand, his abandonment by his Father. On the cross Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?!” Those words are the opening line of Psalm 22, one of the psalms that he, as a Jewish man, would have known by heart. It was this psalm, which Jesus prayed on that cross.
Yet, the day Jesus died, the day we call “Good Friday”, was followed by Easter Sunday. Jesus had died on the cross to pay for our sins (the actions and attitudes that separate us from God), to make a way back to God for us. His Father demonstrated his acceptance of what Jesus did by raising him from the dead early that Easter Sunday. There was an end to the darkness.
Those who love and follow Jesus Christ, who know his forgiveness, have a hope that God has given us. If you read the whole of Psalm 22, you will see that despite the horror of the first verses the psalmist (King David) is able to trust God through that horror and have hope. It isn’t a wishful thinking, but a hope based on the God that David knew. For Christians, things are clearer than they were for the David, who lived hundreds of years before Jesus did. For Christians we can see that Jesus conquered death and promised the same for those who turn to him.
Maybe we will get back to some sort of normality this year, but there will always be things that life will throw at us, things we can’t handle. Yet there is a God who loves you, who wants to be with you through those bad things (and in the good things too). In the relatively comfortable West, we so often ignore him, yet elsewhere in the world many people are driven by their circumstances to look at what is really important in their life. They have come to the conclusion that what matters above all else is knowing the God who loves them. Covid-19 has turned our lives upside down. May it lead to us knowing that what matters above all else is the same for us too, knowing the God who loves us, both now and for all eternity. Want to know more? Grab yourself a bible and read about what Jesus said and what Jesus did in the New Testament. Maybe you heard about some of it when you were young and in Sunday School and have distant memories of it. If you look again now and dig deep, you’ll meet the Jesus who has been through it all himself and wants you back.
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