by Jon Coombs
Our city 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 sentence that already feels like it’s taking a toll.
I’m not sure how you’re feeling about this curfew and this Stage 4 business, but in conversation with people I know it seems we already feel the weight of it. There’s the emotional toll, 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 the psychological toll, as people wrestle with their own mental health, anxieties and depressingly negative thoughts of what the next six weeks is to look like. And then there’s a relational toll, as the alone-ness continues the loneliness of isolation is felt more deeply. Let alone all the other stresses and pressures this lockdown now leads to–unemployment 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 through to one.
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 despite 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 thousands of years God has been across and involved in the world we live. 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 creation 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.
In John 14:26-27 Jesus speaks with his disciples promising that God will always be with them through the Holy Spirit. He says,
“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 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.”
How assuring 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 1 Peter 5:7 reminds us, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
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 brings with it a loss of hope, a loss of purpose, and a loss of 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. This hope 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.
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!?
That through our faith in a crucified Christ comes the hope of Christ through the love of God. May we know this hope this week. For during this time of curfew we may be isolated and lonely. We may be angry and hurt. We may be disappointed and sad. Whatever we may feel will be what it is. Yet, what we can know and be sure of is that Christ is with us, that he cares for us, and that there is hope.
And perhaps that’s the sentence we really ought to be amazed by.
Jon Coombs is Associate Pastor at Rowville Baptist Church in Melbourne, Australia. For over 15 years he has been working with youth and young adults in churches, schools, mission agencies and not-for-profit organisations. He holds an MDiv from the Melbourne School of Theology and writes regularly at joncoombs.com. You can find and connect with him on Twitter.
This article was originally published at joncoombs.com.