Thought for the week – 25th October
Over the last few months, perhaps even more so in the last few days, the UK has been bombarded with information surrounding this latest Pandemic, with different regions receiving different advice and different rules. Whatever your beliefs are regarding that information (and the opinions are many and varied) most people now seem to agree that it’s confusing, the anomalies difficult to justify and at worst, in some cases, dubious. We’re also bombarded with how the situation is affecting the country’s economy businesses and whether you can go to the pub or not, In some places I understand there’s a question mark over whether you should buy socks or not! Some of these things are, of course important. However others of equal or greater importance seem, too often, to drop off the radar (or maybe I’m looking at the wrong radar). One of these things is the voice and plight of a silent but significant percentage of the population, living alone and feeling vulnerable and helpless. That voice gets snuffed out by the noise and clutter of the things I’ve mentioned above – including some very selfish aspects.
Let’s hear the story of one individual and how her life has been affected.
My name is Elizabeth (name changed). For many years I’ve been a reader at a local church, I’ve also served as a member of the work place chaplaincy in the town, where I live. I would make weekly visits to the Royal Mail sorting office and the local bus station. As I went around talking with people and listening to their stories I began to feel part of their communities, which I loved.
I am now 86 years old and until recently was still active on the local preaching circuit, but now, due to Covid-19 I am shielding, like many others. I am a widow and live on my own and now understand what it is to feel isolated. How many people feel like me?
I have great need of Jesus Christ. I am a Christian, yet sometimes I feel afraid, unused, and forgotten. I still need to do something more in my life. God has heard my prayer and I welcome the opportunity to write these thoughts for you, these may be read by others and help them too. Thank you lord, help me to continue this work and help me to help others.
I have three children but all of them live miles apart in different parts of the country. I have one son, a Christian, and two daughters. One daughter could be described as a seeker of the truth, the other is not a believer in God. She is not married and is the one who (when the rules allow) travels to visit me every so often and stay for a few days. God has blessed me with her, I am so grateful for her visits. Thank you Lord.
Dear Lord bless all my family and the families of all those separated at this time.
Thought! You never know where help comes from, do you feel this?
Reading that account prompted a number of feelings in me all at once, sadness, guilt, frustration, and yet at the same time hope.
In Elizabeth’s case, she has her faith to sustain her and a family who cares. What about those who have no one?
There are so many elderly people in our world who feel washed up and of no value – exaggerated in these difficult times – and that for me is a terrible consequence of much (thankfully not all) of our modern society. Many, like the lady we’ve called Elizabeth, have given years of selfless service to others. Within their lifetimes they have created legacies that are priceless in the lives of people they have touched and so, by definition, far from being of no value, they are invaluable. But that’s only part of the story, their experiences and knowledge can still be drawn on if only we were to give them the opportunity to share, as Elizabeth points out, she still feels the need to do more in her life.
Widening the subject a little, we should also consider that in the current climate people of all generations are beginning to suffer different anxieties, and the mental welfare of many is a cause for great concern. Although it’s being discussed, I strongly suspect it’s not being given the high profile it really requires. And we haven’t even started on the homeless and hungry. So what do we do?
I mentioned that Elizabeth’s experience also gave me hope, that was, of course, in her faith, showing how faith and prayer can sustain and enrich. She talks at the end about knowing where help comes from. That put me in mind of one of my favourite Psalms.
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; 4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand; 6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; 8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
We must recognise however that there’ll be those who don’t feel the assurance of those words. So we must also never forget that very often God requires those who do know Him to be His eyes, His ears, His voice of compassion, His hands of help and friendship, and we can do these things in many ways. Even if we can’t be on the front line, we can support those who are, I was speaking with a friend the other day who was saying, because he’s not out and about so much, he’s not spending as much and his current account has more money than normal. He also admitted that he was very fortunate and didn’t really need that accumulated extra cash and was thinking how it could best be used to support people and organisations helping those in need – just one example. So let’s finish with a prayer for those in need of help and comfort and for the strength and wisdom to help them in their plight.
Help us never to lose sight of your love for us,
When we feel afraid and alone
Enfold us in your love and give us
The sense of peace which comes from knowing you.
Help us never to lose sight of your love for others,
Help us to serve you, to become your eyes,
Your ears, your voice of encouragement
Your hand of comfort and friendship.
Give us wisdom, strength and courage
To speak out and work for those in need.
We ask these things in the precious name of your son
Jesus Christ who came to show us how. Amen.