Melbourne has now been under a curfew for a week.
What an amazing sentence to write.
I’ve always figured that to be under curfew would mean I was living in a country under martial law or something similar; where there would be the threat of violence and war.
Even living in the Middle East for a couple of years, in a country that had numerous political assassinations, bus bombings, a short-lived war with its neighbour, and military checkpoints throughout the area I lived, there was never a curfew.
It’s a strange and sad sentence to write.
And it’s a reality that already feels like it’s taking a toll.
I’m not sure how you’re looking at this if you’re outside Victoria but the people I know here are feeling the weight of it. There’s the emotional toll; a coming to terms with the shock and awe of being in such a lockdown again and all the feels that come along with that. There’s a psychological impact as people wrestle with their own mental health, anxieties and negative thoughts about what the next six weeks are going to look like. And then there’s a relational cost as the alone-ness continues the loneliness of isolation drags on. Then there are all the other stresses and pressures this new lockdown brings: loss of employment or lower job security, financial pressure, family pressure at home, and the overwhelming stress from remote learning for young families. It feels like a dangerous cocktail.
Is there a positive in this at all?
Let’s be honest, sometimes it seems hard to see any.
Nevertheless, positives or not, there are some truths worth holding on to. Because, despite what is happening in our lives—despite the pressures we’re under, and the strain of the day, there is still a God who is with us, who cares for us, and who brings hope into our lives.
He Is With Us
Even though we’re all surprised by how 2020 has turned out, God is not.
For all of history God has been fully aware of, and involved in, the world we inhabit. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He hasn’t changed. He remains steadfast, he remains faithful, he remains a God of love. He remains a God who looks upon his creatures and seeks to be with them, to know them and he be known by them.
God has not disappeared. He hasn’t gone on holiday. He hasn’t run away. No, God is with us. He is with us in the confusion and the chaos, just as he is with us in our health and in our happiness. He is with us, as Jesus says, through his Holy Spirit:
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you … If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him … Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:18,23,27)
How reassuring to know that God is with us. As followers of Christ we can know that he is with us. That upon his death, resurrection, and ascension Christ didn’t leave this world to its own devices. Rather, Christ has given us his peace, a peace that surpasses all understanding, a peace through his Spirit and worth holding onto in this season.
He Cares For Us
And just as Christ is with us, so too he cares for us. As the apostle Peter urges us, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
When we feel all is lost, when we’re under pressure, when we’re despondent, when we’re angry, when we’re in tears, when we’re annoyed, when we’re anxious, when we’re fearful, when we’re worried, and when we’re none of the above, Christ still cares for us.
However we might be feeling, and in whatever situation we may find ourselves during this curfew period, Christ cares.
He cares for the overwhelmed parents juggling remote schooling and their own work from home.
He cares for the single person stuck at home with little relational contact with friends or family.
He cares for the bored student trying to make their days somewhat productive but seeing no point.
He cares for the grandparent confined to their home without grandchildren running through their house as usual.
He cares for the worker who has just lost their job who now faces months of uncertainty.
Christ cares for you.
He Brings Hope to Us
This time of curfews and COVID threatens our sense of hope, purpose and identity. We understand hope is diminished because of all the feelings, the restrictions, and unwanted changes to life. But in Christ we find hope restored. Christ is our hope. He is our hope in this season and our hope in eternity to come.
This hope doesn’t come from some positive feeling, nor even a positive action or thought. It comes from Christ and the cross. Ironically, through death comes hope. Through the death of Christ comes the hope of Christ. For through the death of Christ comes the hope of knowing we are forgiven, we are accepted and loved as we are, and we are at peace with God.
Through the death of Christ comes the hope of Christ … the hope of knowing we are forgiven, we are accepted and loved as we are, and we are at peace with God.
As we recognise, and perhaps even more so in these strange days, we are not in control we may come to realise that there is little we can do to save ourselves. Whether it be an internal or external struggle we are familiar with the exhaustion that comes from those constant waves beating down upon us. And so as Christ goes to the cross for us he takes with him our exhaustion, our frustration, and our brokenness from life in the world.
As we put our faith in this Christ on the cross Paul reminds us in Romans 5:1-5:
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Are there greater words than this!?
May we know that hope this week. During this time of curfew we might be isolated and lonely. We might feel be angry and hurt. We might experience disappointment and sadness. Our feelings will be what they are. And yet, what we can know and be sure of a greater reality beyond our feelings: Christ is with us; he cares for us; there is hope.
And perhaps that’s the sentence we ought to be really amazed by.
First published at joncoombs.com