My feeling is that this is for many the most terrifying passage of the pandemic so far. If not terrifying then certainly the most anxiety inducing. Increasingly it is the case that we are aware of people within our direct circles of contact who have contracted and recovered from the Corona-Virus or worse, have been hospitalised, been placed in induced coma, or sadly have succumbed in tragically quick time. For many confused, afraid, concerned, and grieving people their cry might well echo the Psalmists words – ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me [us]?’ (Psalm 22:1).
For many of us, if we are being honest it takes very little for us to feel as though the universe is conspiring against us personally even if the issue at hand is that one is running a few minutes late and cannot find their keys. ‘Why are you doing this to me Lord?!..’ For some this is a state of mind which sits pretty near the surface and reappears with surprising regularity. As though life is a challenge because God is acting as the Gods of ancient Greece; playing with the lives of mortals who are mere helpless pawns in their amusing games and schemes.
This side of the Christmas and New Year break we are seeing a heightened sense of vulnerability made all the more acute because we all felt that the finish line was coming into view, that rescue is on its way if we can just hang on a little bit longer. And I am sure it is. But along with the saving force which comes in the guise of vaccine, there is another manifestation of the fear-driven spirit for survival, a rush for the front of the vaccination queue. There is an anxiety that we are so close but equally the enemy is closing in. There is rightly sadness for those who have come so near but didn’t escape the clutches, a growing sense of tension with each day’s bleak statistics of daily cases. Where is the boldness of faith that looks beyond these frail clothes of flesh and blood? Where are the cries of triumphalism ‘death where is thy sting?’ (1 Cor 15:55). How quickly we are drawn into death’s dark vale.
Illness and the threat of Death, the hope of light and salvation. We are bold, and then we are scared. We are human. What we know if we continue with the Psalmist through Psalm 22, and work through Psalm 23 with honesty and truthfulness, is that we will arrive at the Glorious Psalm 24 which starts with the line ‘The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein’. And finishes with the burst of triumphal song:
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.
To where are we looking for our salvation in these days? To Christ? To vaccines? To Christ in the vaccine? We are for now caught out. We are trapped between our sense of frailty and our bold statements of faith in a loving redeeming God who comes in the person of Jesus to give us faith in the resurrection and of life with the eternal Father. We are like children, God knows. But through all I pray we find strength and comfort in a Psalm 24 centred life, whilst accepting that many of us will from time to time be caught up in the despair of 22, or be moving through the mixed experiences of 23. No matter what, for me there is one reminder that sustains me and I pray it helps you also – to be regularly told ‘The Lord is with you’. I pray all of us to know this deeply as the truth it is.
The Lord is with you all.
Charles Maasz, CEO