Thought For The Week 5 April 2020
During this lock down period I have been contemplating what it all means. Why is this happening? Is there a higher purpose to it all? Is God saying or doing something in the midst of this upheaval that we are to pay attention to? Perhaps you have also asked similar questions. I’ve noticed that the conclusions I come to depend very much on the filters and influences through which I see the world.
For example, I have been listening to American Pastor Peter Scazzero who speaks a lot about the need to slow down from our fast pace modern life in order to more fully be present to God. Busyness robs us of the ability to be calm and still in God’s presence and makes us spiritually unhealthy. So perhaps Covid 19 is a forced Sabbath for the world, putting the brakes on production and consumption, forcing us indoors to be still. But then this is a particularly western and affluent view; there is no rest in the refugee camps or for the millions of Indian migrant workers walking home to their villages.
Recently I have become more interested in the state of the environment- climate change and all that. With this filter on I see the Covid 19 virus as a message from creation to do things differently, more sustainably than we have. Already we see positive effects on the environment as water ways and air quality improve. But of course, that will only be temporary and we will go back to our old ways as soon as we can.
Perhaps some will see this as a judgement from God upon a wicked world. Perhaps heralding the end of the world as we know it and the imminent return of Christ. This filter sees all catastrophes this way.
But my favourite theologian, NT Wright, makes the point in an article published by Time Magazine (https://time.com/5808495/coronavirus-christianity/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=editorial&utm_term=ideas_covid-19&linkId=85382093&fbclid=IwAR2bLXBzk8OIUxdOEj33hl26j4BstnxI_3f1q8HMvTo-B3xS2iX5o8c-LqQ) that our culture is influenced by rationalism which is always looking for cause and effect answers. It’s why we ask why.
The Bible gives us another response to this challenging events. It calls us to lament. In Wright’s words; “Lament is what happens when people ask, “Why?” and don’t get an answer. It’s where we get to when we move beyond our self-centered worry about our sins and failings and look more broadly at the suffering of the world”.
When we engage in lament, crying out like the psalmist “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me for ever?” (Psalm 13), we invite God into the midst of our trouble and pain and find real comfort and strength to endure. God never promises to remove the trial, but he will carry us through it. I pray that you would know God’s comfort at this time and we think beyond our own inconvenience to the real suffering beyond our borders and lament for the suffering we see around us.
Grace and peace,