In I Chronicles 12v32 we read of the “men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do…”. How we need ‘men of Issachar’ today! What is the Coronavirus crisis (or, rather, the Lord) saying to us? I believe he is saying many things, among which are surely the following:
- We are not omnipotent. We have been encouraged to think that if we do this and do that, long enough and well enough, we can stem the flow of climate change. But we can’t. In a similar way, we can take certain precautions, and develop medical resources to tackle this virus, but we do not have ultimate power over it.
- We are vulnerable. The feared economic damage that was predicted over Brexit is proving to be nothing in comparison with the harm to health and wealth that threatens us in the wake of Coronavirus.
- We need each other. Ironically, perhaps, the more we self-isolate the more we depend on others! What must it feel like to be sent to prison? Many people, especially those of us over 70, are having to calculate a possible loss of many common freedoms over the coming weeks, or even months. Our Christian neighbour has offered to do any shopping for those in our street who may be in need of such help. (Now I do know I am getting old!). Hopefully, we shall see many more such gestures in our society.
- We have had, and still have, the issues of Brexit and climate change – and now this. Who can tell what might be next, until we sit up and take notice of a sovereign God who “is patient with (us), not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9) .
Jesus was once told about some Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. He then went on to refer to eighteen people who were killed when a tower in Siloam fell on them. Were they, Jesus asked, more sinful than others living in Galilee or Jerusalem at the time? No, he said, emphatically. Unless you repent, you too will all perish.
Gratefully acknowledging God’s grace towards us, revealed to us in Christ, let us earnestly pray that many in these days will turn to him in repentance and faith, as they realize human impotence, vulnerability and our total dependence upon, not just other people, but upon our Creator-Redeemer himself.
“I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven. As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he shows us his mercy. Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.” (Psalm 123:1,2)
Your brother in Christ,