Perhaps one of the greatest challenges for many us to face as we go back out into the world is the fact that if you have lived out your life in Britain, then unless you are into your eighties you have had no personal experience of war in this land, no experience of real starvation, no experience of horrific easily transmitted disease, we’ve had an NHS service to provide us with medicines and hospitals, state pensions to keep us at least fed and clothed. In short, in terms of what other peoples in this world have had, and still do have, we have had it very easy indeed.
And now something new has come onto the scene that is hitting all countries alike. For some this is simply another problem to contend with on top of all the others that they already face – as one African church leader said “I’d rather die from Coronavirus than from starvation” For us we have no reason to think like that, for we are not faced with any equivalent choice.
Now, for the Christian, one good that should come out of this is that we better identify with our overseas brothers and sisters. Romans 12:15 reads – Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. The idea being that we should truly empathise with others if we are to properly fulfill the command to “love our neighbours as ourselves” and this should help us to better empathise with our brothers and sisters in so many lands where they face far worse than this on a daily basis.
But we are still faced with a harder normality that we previously faced. In the Old Testament David, from a young child, faced the attacks of wild animals as he shepherded his sheep, later he faced numerous attacks on his life from the king, he then fought in numerous hand to hand battles. That was his “normality” And here is what he wrote about it:
Psa 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Psa 23:2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
Psa 23:3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Psa 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Psa 23:5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Psa 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Just consider v4 for one minute – Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death even if that is what I am called to face, the reality that I now walk closer to death than before, even in its very shadow…..I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. God is still with me, His protection is still around me, His good purposes still for me! And we have God’s provisions to comfort him. No one is absolutely sure as to what he refers to as God’s rod and staff, but many believe, and it would fit the sense well, that it refers to God’s Word or Law and God’s promises. In other words what God has given us to reassure us, and guide us, and guard our minds and hearts and lives.
Friend, many have described what faces us now as a “new normality” and that might well be a very good description of it. But the important thing for us is that it hasn’t changed God, or our relationship to Him, or His love and provision for us in any way! – He is still my Shepherd, and He still steers my life until I reach that final glorious event when I leave this damaged, fallen world and enter into His presence where I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever
As we face this new normality may it be with that over-riding assurance. I am eternally safe in the everlasting arms of my heavenly Father!