For the past two Thursdays at 8.00pm, people in our street have come to their front doors and shown their appreciation for those on the NHS frontline by prolonged clapping of hands, a laudable and touching demonstration of gratitude and admiration. For a variety of reasons, however, I have not joined them.
One reason is that I do not share the feeling of helplessness that began these demonstrations when they originated in Italy and Spain - the perplexity that Jesus spoke of...
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
Another reason is that those to whom the appreciation is directed cannot hear the clapping: most of them are too busy in their hospitals or are trying to get a little sleep after long hours selflessly helping others. It is not that I do not share admiration for those doctors and nurses; I am married to a former Great Ormond Street nurse and midwife and we often watch hospital documentaries showing the ongoing, selfless dedication of such people. Dedication is always their way, not just in this present crisis.
I have been wondering how to respond to anyone who questions my lack of participation in the clapping, or suggests I am uncaring. The answer seems obvious: rather that applaud those who cannot hear me I have decided to turn to the One who hears our prayers, the Creator of all things, including viruses, to ask him to bring this awful scourge to an end.
Scripture has numerous examples of plagues being brought to an end, and in every case, faithful men like Moses and David had pleaded with the LORD in prayer.
I can, of course, do this any time, and I try to remember to do so every day, but I have decided 8.00pm Thursdays would be particularly appropriate.
Not only will I ask our Heavenly Father to hasten the end of this plague, and spare those who are risking their own health in caring for others, but also that He will open the eyes of more people to recognise and understand His work of preparing the earth for the return of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. All such painful illnesses as this current pandemic will then be swept away. The very fact that events such as these are occurring, and spreading, is an indication that that great day is near.
Doubtless this pandemic will run out of momentum and stop, but our overcrowded world seems to have a bewildering array of new difficulties in store. Surely humankind should be lifting up their voices to the God of Heaven and praying for his kingdom to come.
If any of you share my feelings and recognise the times as exactly what the Lord Jesus warned of on Mount Olivet, perhaps you will join me. [CW]