Inspired by a favourite poem of many I hope we can be encouraged to know that the Lord does more than walk with us in these difficult times, but carries us through the challenges of Covid lockdown. As I walked through the snow yesterday I was reminded that we are not on our own and the footprints are not ours, but those of the Lord who will carry us through.
Be encouraged by the Book of Jonah — it doesn’t take long to read
In the belly of a whale is a dark place to be and Covid is like a whale that has swallowed us up and trapped us in a frightening darkness. We are all wondering how we are gong to get out of this!
I read the book of Jonah again, and again, yesterday and was encouraged, again and again, that God is determined to save the world and uses individuals, like us, to do it. The Jonah attitude is overcome so that God can mend the broken world before it breaks any more. Jonah didn’t want to do what God was asking him to do so ran away from the responsibility, and, I’m sure, we’ve all done that at some time. “I can’t!” or “I won’t!” is the answer God often hears as we try to do things our way only to run into storms that swallow us up in the darkness of fear and doubt.
As we feel our life ebbing away (Jonah 1: 7) we remember our Lord and pray and we are saved from the impossible place we found ourselves. Our prayer is answered for a purpose and that purpose is to proclaim the message we have been given so that more people will be saved from the mess the world is in. It’s amazing what prayer and repentance can achieve when even the most wicked of people embrace the message, but instead of rejoicing we can be angry when the prison doors burst open and so many sinners walk out!
It’s exciting to imagine that God’s grace and compassion is so great and love so powerful that even the worst among us can be saved from the darkness or, to consider how a criminal at the end of the gospels is promised a place in Paradise! (Luke 23: 39-43) We might be among the community of Nineveh who have done a lot wrong, but there is hope for the future if we hear the message that Jonah proclaims. Or we can be called like Jonah to go and proclaim the message so that God’s will is done and the Kingdom can come — and God forgives our reluctance to go where we are sent.
There is a lot of anger found in the Church and many people deny their responsibilities, or run away from doing what they are called to do but God overcomes our Jonah attitude with a love and compassion for the great community in crisis. We, like Jonah, can be God’s voice or, like the people of Nineveh, can be the people who hear the message he delivers and respond. That is so encouraging in this Covid crisis so don’t lose hope.