Posted in Letter
There can be few lonelier places at this time than a person in the ICU of a hospital struggling with Covid19. Even the attentive hospital staff who are by their side are faceless behind their masks.
This week we are taking time to remember and commemorate the ending of the war in Europe in 1945. After Dunkirk, when Britain stood alone against the might of the Nazi war machine there must have been many dark days and months when survival, never mind victory, against a foe much more deadly and evil than the current pandemic must have been in doubt.
The book ‘Intercessor’ by Rees Howells shows that even though Britain may have thought she stood alone; the Lord God was there fighting the battle and working through the prayers of the intercessors and the nation to stand against the demonic forces at work in the Fuhrer and his close associates.
I was encouraged by the report on the news that Tearfund have commissioned a survey which shows that since the lock down far more people are engaging in church services; on line, watching them on the television or listening on the radio than ever would be going to ‘church’ on a Sunday. More people are also saying they are praying and believe that prayer does make a difference. Major Ian Payne of Chatham Salvation Army Citadel told us his Sunday morning attendance is more than double his usual numbers and three people have been in touch with him to say that through his preaching they have given their lives to Jesus, even though they do not usually attend a service! Hallelujah praise God!
Our enemy, satan, may think he can win during these dark days but his end is certain. We do know the end of the story, we have read the book!
There was a time over 2,000 years ago when he thought he had defeated God’s plans once and for all. It was Passover, in a little back water province of the mighty Roman Empire. Jesus, the son of God, had come to Jerusalem, his capital city. But the Jewish and Roman authorities conspired to have him executed in one of the most barbaric ways known to man.
In Matthew’s gospel it says: From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “My God my God why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27 45-46
We can’t begin to comprehend the anguish of Jesus, Son of God, who had never been separated from his Father before being completely abandoned as the sin of the whole world was laid on him and the Lord Almighty in all His holiness had to turn away.
John, an eye witness of the crucifixion, tells us Jesus’ last words: Jesus said “It is finished.” With that he bowed his head and gave up his spirit John 19:30
These words echo Psalm 22 and are the opening and closing lines of that Psalm. It has been suggested that this Psalm could have been running through Jesus’ thoughts as he hung on the cross; they bear an uncanny echo of the events of his execution.
On the cross Jesus triumphed: over sin, over disease, over death, over satan. And because of his victory he could promise never to leave us nor forsake us. He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell with us, our teacher, and encourager, the one who gives us gifts and empowers us. Even if the circumstances of Covid 19; social distancing and the lock down have isolated you Jesus’ promise holds good. He was the one who was abandoned by God so that we need never be alone.
Although the victory is assured the battle still continues and will do so until Jesus returns again to Jerusalem to establish his eternal kingdom. During this time there is as much work to do as ever. God does not ‘furlough’ his people. We are his children and we are also priests and prophets and warriors. He gives us gifts and empowers us so that we can be co-labourers with him. As Rees Howells was called to intercede for our nation in the battles of World War II so the Lord is calling us to engage in prayer for the country at this time.
Covid 19 is a real and present threat to life. Our nation will not emerge from this unchanged. We each of us can play our part, not just staying home and saving lives or clapping for the NHS and other front line services at 8pm on Thursdays. The Lord has other work for us to undertake in praying for
- Key workers
- Our Government as they make crucial decisions which will affect us all
- Small businesses as they struggle through uncertain financial times.
- Children missing out on vital education
- Families caught up in the pressures of lock down.
Not sure how to pray? The Lord’s Prayer is a good starting point.
‘Our Father, who art in heaven Hallowed be thy name Thy Kingdom come Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven...’
Graham and Katy Hill, Local Church Leaders