Christ is Risen. Alleluia!
Some years ago I had a back operation and spent 6 week incapacitated, healing. My condition had never caused me to have six weeks of inactivity, through all the pain and the suffering, I still went to work, still achieved things, and yet now as part of my healing, I was unable to do normal everyday things. This was really brought home in a major way because during that period we had a massive flood in KZN and our church was inundated with flood water. I was able to walk at the time, not far and very slowly but I walked down to the church and watched the waters rise and I could do nothing. I could not pack the sandbags that were so desperately needed, I could not prevent the disaster that was unfolding in front of me. I have never felt so helpless. All the things that I could have done before, my healing process now prevented me from doing. Things that previously I had, had to fight through the pain threshold and just get on with, I could now not do, because I was healing. My days of healing were often harder than the days of agony that I had endured, prior to my operation when I had not able to get out of bed.
I share this experience because, today it helps me. It reminds me that healing is not an easy process, healing requires patience and a long-term view. When I was a suffering victim, I just had to overcome the pain in the moment, grit my teeth and push through. Now I had to think carefully. If I didn’t live this moment correctly, I’d just be back where I started, only now with the opportunity lost for complete healing. Today I am grateful for those six long, challenging, transformative weeks. (To set your mind at ease, the church survived the flood – in fact, it was the best carpet clean the church had had in years!)
We are inexperienced at the things that count most in life, our modern lifestyle is one of escapism and denial and to be honest, delusion. We seldom have to face our problems head on, because we can always just throw a little money at the problem. This Crisis has shown that wealth is not an antidote for suffering. One thing that has been consistent in our Governments approach to this pandemic is that the people come first. It is a reality that hundreds of thousands of people will not survive this pandemic. It is true that the economy has crashed, but we are focusing on building a new social compact, a new way of living, not just an intensified way to uphold an economy. As South Africans, this is a critical moment in time. As ambassadors of the Kingdom of God our role in the reintegration into the post lock-down era is critical and is why I used my example of a slow healing.
This is a time of healing!
Next week is not going to be a return to normal, it feels like I have said this ad nauseum but it cannot be overstated. The Lock-down will be phased out and as the Church gathered, we will not be returning to corporate worship for some time, and we need to embrace this and maintain the principals of social distancing, because this is the way forward.
As we interact with the world, we need to show leadership, we need to respect the difficult decisions Government has made and we need to lead the conversation around a positive renewal of our social compact. “Always be willing to give an account of the hope that you have within you” (St Peter), find that hope, live out of that hope, embrace that hope. A hope that is built on your faith in a God that heals. A God that invites you into an everlasting relationship.
The writer of Lamentations reminds us that there is a “time for this.” At the heart of his message is this imperative that we must do what must be done in the season that we are in. And this season, for us, is a season of Matthew 6:6 – “Go into your room shut the door and pray.” And we must stay there until we are called out one by one to share the love of Christ. When you are called back to work you will be tested in every way to see how your relationship with God has grown and intensified and how your faith has empowered you. Non-believers will be convinced or otherwise of the value of faith, by how the Christians share their experience of “the time for this.”
We still have some time to get our lives right, to embrace “this time” and draw from the well which is Christ and reorder our thoughts, our minds and hearts. We need to use this time to truly understand what is happening, truly understand the now. We need to receive the healing and understanding of ourselves in this different context. We have two dangers facing us this week. The first is an intensification of our concern over the uncertainty and the other is a denial of the reality because the end is in sight. Our resolve to live in Christ and with Christ and through Christ means that we resist both those temptations and continue to seek the fullness of the present.
It is not too late to use this once in a life opportunity to reset your priorities and repent and reorder your life. Government has offered a financial package to just about everyone to in-still some hope, but we can receive real hope, by seeking the Lord our God with all our heart all our soul and all our strength, we live for the Kingdom of God and we need to hold onto our faith to empower us.
To rework St Paul’s thoughts, “I am convinced, that neither, COVID-19, nor retrenchment, nor pay cuts, nor uncertainty, nor failing economies, nor anything else in all of creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Jesus Christ our Saviour.
You are called to be a witness to what spending time with God can do for you. As you go back to the world, that is what the world will be looking for, from you. A testimony that in the hope that it is not bread alone that will bring healing to our world!
Prepare yourselves for action, Galatians 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.”
You will need these to successfully move forward and you will get these through a deeper relationship with God.
I am trying to encourage you to deepen your relationship with God. I am exhorting you to be careful not to see the end in sight and ease off on your seeking of God, be careful not to see the possible return, as a consolation. You need to give your all to today, to prepare yourself for what lies ahead.
We are entering a new phase of the crisis cycle and it comes with a lot of uncertainty and challenge. We need to approach with our minds alert and be open to change. This is what is means to trust God. To open ourselves to experience the journey and not run away from it.
Be assured of my prayers!