St Paul famously wrote:
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. (Romans 8:22)
I like the analogy because it is an honest yet hopeful one. For me, it recalls Israel’s liberation and birth as a nation through great suffering in Egypt. It recalls Jesus’ death and resurrection, the suffering that is turned into glory as he rises to become the firstborn of the new creation.
Our own life stories are full of groaning and loss leading to new beginnings. When painful change comes, we discover that we are not forsaken, as God again and again pushes us out into a new life, whether or not we want it. Life goes on, and we come to embrace our new situation. Sometimes the new life is extremely difficult but we learn (with God’s help) to live again. And, of course, all this dying and living along the road of life prepares us for our last letting go and rising to new life from our death.
Our nation, like many, is living in the valley of the shadow of death – to use the words of Psalm 23. We are those who can say “I will fear no evil for you are with me.”
Our hope in the midst of difficult times is always that God will bring good out of such times. And in these dark times there are many stories of human courage and God at work. But our hope goes deeper….
God asks us to work with him to re-shape our world, so that the groaning of these days will not be in vain but bring into being a better world, one that looks a bit more like God’s kingdom. And that begins in prayer. In a focus on God and his will. As Jesus teaches us in the Lord’s Prayer.
And that leads into the re-imagining of our world. How do you re-imagine the world post Covid-19? I’ve tried to distil ten words for me (but couldn’t cut it down from 11!).
- Consider the earth. Honour its children by protecting their inheritance.
- Love yourself, but do not think you are more important than anyone else.
- Get involved. Don’t leave other people to fight for the world you would like to see.
- Honour the work of society’s carers.
- Love your neighbours. Value people above all things.
- Be willing to make sacrifices for the common good.
- Embrace the responsibilities of your wealth.
- Choose co-operation over competition wherever possible.
- Do not covet the stuff you see advertised. Learn contentment and generosity.
- Take the time to seek out truth. Reflect on what you believe and why you believe it.
- Remember that you will die. Leave the world a better place than you found it.
What would yours be? And how do we do it? Back to prayer again. And again. And again.