It wouldn’t be surprising if you were well over COVID – sick of hearing about it, tired of socially distancing, sanitising your hands and remembering not to touch your face. I know I am.
How wonderful it would be, once 2020 clicked over to January 1, 2021, if all such things simply disappeared. Yet even if they did, we’d still be dealing with the global aftermath of lost businesses, jobs and savings, shattered economies and the pain of 1.7 million lives lost. And climbing.
People have not been able to farewell loved ones who have died, support those who are sick, or celebrate with those who have married or given birth. Problems with mental health and isolation are still very much with us.
In the early months of the pandemic, we at Anglican Media noticed how many turned to prayer – entreating our great God for mercy, healing, endurance and wisdom for ourselves and others. Admitting to the Lord of all that we had no control over this small virus. The COVID prayer page became the top-rated section on sydneyanglicans.net as we all struggled to put our prayers into words.
I wonder, are you still praying regularly about these things? Or, as the troubles eased in Australia, did you turn your mind back to the everyday matters of this world? Perhaps the past week or so has prompted you to pray again, but perhaps you need to be reminded, as do I, to “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)?
We can (mostly) rejoice in our circumstances in Australia. It’s a great sorrow to miss seeing family, have travel plans turned upside down and not be able to sing carols in church on Christmas Day. But what about the US, which has more than 23 per cent of the world’s COVID cases, passed the sickening milestone of 320,000 dead before Christmas and is adding up to 3000 lives to that list every day? Or India, which now has more than 10 million cases of its own? Or the many countries and regions in which lockdown or greater restrictions have returned to try and deal with a second wave, third wave or new strain of the virus?
No one is untouched. Think of the small African nation of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) – which lost its Prime Minister, Ambrose Dlamini, to the pandemic earlier this month. Consider the need for a vaccine to be available to all, as well as the efforts of countless thousands of medical staff around the globe who are grappling with COVID deaths, patient disbelief and personal exhaustion.
Yet “there is no Rock like our God” (1 Samuel 2:2), and we should give thanks that people have come to Jesus in the midst of a year of turmoil, finding refuge in him. As God’s people, we should also continue to show the servant-hearted love of Christ in whatever situation we find ourselves.
The fact that most of us will have been able to celebrate a relatively normal Christmas season should not just be a cause for thanks – it should drive us to even more earnest prayer. Let there be thanks with entreaty. Celebration with intercession. Joy to the world... and plenty of knee time.
Shall we pray?