Sunday, 18 April 2021

Keeping faith will build bright future

STEP by step the lockdown restrictions are being eased or lifted, to the relief of many, and some measure of normality is being restored.

However, the lives of too many will be very different from before. It is a sad fact that there will be a lot of redundancies, reduced hours of work, different ways of working, debt and a good deal of anxiety.

A week or so ago two headlines caught my attention: “Covid-19 is launching us into a new era of poverty, turmoil and conflict”. A very depressing thought. The other headline was this: “A multi-stakeholder approach will re-build business after this crisis”. A more hopeful thought perhaps?

As a nation we have risen to the challenges and difficulties that coronavirus has thrown at us. The selfless work of those in the NHS, the teachers looking after the children of key workers, those who run our public services, empty our dustbins, deliver the post or serve in our shops. The list is endless.

Then there are all those volunteers who are caring for others, doing their shopping, collecting prescriptions, making hospital scrubs, face masks and so much more besides.

As well as all that, we have started looking after each other in ways which we might not have been doing before.

There has been a sense of community cohesion and concern — we are all in this together, we all have a stake in keeping us safe and ensuring that those around us, especially the vulnerable, are supported and cared for.

In the Christian Bible we read of Jesus’ call for all to “love your neighbour” — not just the person who lives next door, but all whom we meet and with whom we interact — especially those in that “new era of poverty, turmoil and conflict” who will struggle and need support. This is what we have been doing in the last 12 weeks.

As the effects of the pandemic subside, can we, will we, continue looking out for each other?

In the world of work will we do our best to retain as many staff as possible and do what we can for those we must let go? Will we keep caring for those who need help in the communities in which we live? Will we develop a “stakeholder” approach in which everyone is valued, respected and protected — a society in which everyone has a stake and no-one is forgotten, ignored or excluded?

If we answer “Yes” to all or any of these questions we shall need a great deal of faith — faith in those who lead our nation and take decisions on our behalf, faith in our business leaders, faith in each other, faith in ourselves, but for the Christian believer, he or she has something else as well, a confidence and faith in God and Jesus, the Son of God, who said: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”.

A God who promises us rest, peace, an inner peace, a peace which our world can’t give. A God who gives us hope in what sometimes seems like a hopeless situation.

It is a sad fact of life that faith in our fellow man can sometimes be misplaced, but faith in God is steadfast and enables us to share with him our concerns in prayer and reflection and put our trust in him for all that lies ahead.

The challenge is to keep faith and build on what we have achieved together so far in this pandemic.

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