As expected, then, the Government has extended the Lockdown for another three weeks. And even though we know its the right thing to do, many of us will not have greeted the news with enthusiasm. Another three weeks – at least – for some of us to cope on our own, to deal with noisy children, an awkward partner, maybe even an abusive one; another three weeks to worry about where the money is going to come from, if we will have a job to go back to; another three weeks to worry about vulnerable family members. Some of us will be wondering this morning just how we are going to cope.
May I gently direct you to Romans 5, verses 1-5? and particularly verses 3-5? “we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Paul knew what it was to really suffer, as I said on Wednesday evening – shipwrecked, tortured, almost killed, imprisoned, starved…quite a list! Yet still he had hope because he knew that God was with him, and for him, that God loved him, and that God could bring good out of any situation, even a really bad one.
I include the quote from Christopher Reeve today because I believe it is one we can take to heart too – here is a man trapped in his own body for years after a horse-riding accident in 1995 until the day he died in 2004. Every day must have felt like an eternity for him. Yet he chose hope. Hope does not disappoint. God’s hope certainly doesn’t – we’ve just seen why as we celebrated Easter last weekend.
Don’t give up hope. Remember that God has not given up on us and that if we let Him, we could actually grow in our faith during this most testing of times. Just as Joe Wickes gets people stretching their physical muscles on a daily basis, if we allow Him to, God can get us stretching our spiritual muscles and growing stronger in our faith. It might be uncomfortable, even painful, but in the long run we will emerge stronger and fitter and healthier.
So please, don’t despair – look for God in the middle of your situation and trust Him to lead you through. Because He can, and He will. As the rather hackneyed phrase goes, “I can cope because God gives me hope.” In fact we can do more than cope – Romans 8v37, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” may we all know that to be true, whatever our situation, as we turn to God for the strength to persevere and to grow more like Jesus.