Wales has been in lockdown for fifteen weeks. Can you remember anything like this in your lifetime? Restaurants, cinemas, theatres, gyms, swimming pools, non essential shops, offices, schools, all closed. Beaches, parks and leisure centres empty. 316,000 workers have been furloughed in Wales, 240 jobs lost at Airbus in Wrexham, hundreds of jobs threatened at Castell Howell Foods in Carmarthenshire, and talk of redundancies at the Steel works. This is following the devastating loss of life: 1.507 people have died in Wales directly as a result of Coronavirus. We are facing a crisis like no other, and this in the Twenty First Century with all our medical and technological advances. The world is looking to Science to find the answers and guide us out of this crisis and back to normality. But Science is not God. It can only describe, test, predict and advise. Politicians are not God either. They can only listen, assess, debate, make choices and communicate to a waiting, anxious population.
Do you feel that your arms are feeble and your knees are weak? You are not alone. But never forget, God is still on the throne. He is unchanged and unchanging. He is still the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1 v 3) These are not empty words, they are true and we may prove them in our lives today for our good and for a strong witness to those around us.
Brief Devotional: Feeble Arms and Weak Knees
Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees! ‘Make level paths for your feet,’ so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Hebrews 12 v 12,13
These verses come at the end of a long passage in Hebrews that speaks about perseverance. At the beginning of the pandemic many of us turned to this passage for instruction and comfort. We encouraged ourselves and others to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross” v2. We knew that we needed this spirit of perseverance, and this example of our dear Saviour. The passage goes on to speak about discipline. It tells us to “endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons” v7 Like a wise father, God disciplines us for our good. It is a sign of his love for us. It never seems pleasant at the time, just as our parents’ discipline was never enjoyable. But in the end, if we receive it in the right way, it produces a harvest of righteousness and makes us more holy. “God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness” v10 So if we understand what is happening to us; if we interpret it as discipline from a Heavenly Father, we should respond in the right way and even benefit from it.
Many people in the world are asking whether they will be changed as a result of lockdown. They wonder if the things they have experienced will have a lasting effect. Will the care and concern for neighbours continue? Will their priorities change? Will they have a new appreciation of life; a new love for the world around; a new desire for a better world? Surely things cannot go on the way they always have in the past. The “new normal” has to be better. Well, we know human nature. When it is devoid of the grace of God it cannot fundamentally change. We have already seen signs of the old selfishness and anger as crowds gather in beaches and fights break out.
But we are encouraged to strengthen our feeble arms and weak knees. We can be better as a result of this lockdown. We can be more righteous, more like our loving Lord Jesus, more holy. If this discipline is not to be wasted on us, we must understand what is happening to us; we must examine ourselves closely and seek to put to death whatever we still find in us that displeases God, we must draw near to God and make godly resolutions that by his grace we will keep when this is all over. That is what is meant by strengthening our arms and our weak knees. Do not crumble under this. Rather use it to build a better life for your Saviour. Determine to build those level paths ahead of you so that those who are lame will be strengthened by your example and find healing as they travel along with you the path that leads to life. There are plenty of people all around us who are feeling quite lame at the moment. Let us be those who, knowing our God, are able to show the way ahead clearly and confidently. God helping us, we will do so!
Brief Prayer Requests
1. Give thanks to God for answered prayer for one of our sisters. She was due to go into hospital for an operation to repair a macular hole. The eye surgeon looked at her scans the day before the operation was due and discovered that the macular hole has healed itself. He has never seen this before in any other patient. We thank God for his mercy and love towards our sister.
2. Continue to pray, please, for Linda. As I write, she is still in Morriston Hospital.Praise God the antibiotics have finally started to work, but she remains in a poorly condition. Remember her family.
3. Every church that was able has gone online during lockdown. We should pray for those who have not been able to hold any form of service or prayer meeting during this time. Many are small fellowships whose future was uncertain before and now even more so. Pray for isolated believers who lack the fellowship that many of us have enjoyed over these weeks on the phone, by letter or on the internet. Pray also that the Lord will use the services that are online for his glory. The gospel is going out but we have no idea how it is being received or even who is watching. Pray for preachers to find the right texts and to have the right words to communicate the greatness of the gospel in these desperate times. Pray that people will be touched by the power of the Holy Spirit as they listen.
Finally, for those who are following the daily readings, here are the readings from this Wednesday. We are approaching the end of the book of Psalms which we started on week 2 of lockdown. When we finish Psalms we will go back to the New Testament and pick up our readings in the book of Acts.
Wed 1st Psalm 126,127,128 Thursday 2nd Psalm 129,130,131
Friday 3rd Psalm 132,133,134 Saturday 4th Psalm 135,136
Sunday 5th Psalm 137,138 Monday 6th Psalm 139
Tuesday 7th Psalm 140,141 Wed 8th Psalm 142,143
Warmly yours in the Lord Your Pastor Jeremy 29th June 2020