‘If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.’ (2 Chronicles 7:14)
It’s time to seek the face of our God.
On an overwhelming scale, in the midst of a global pandemic, humanity is confronting an uncomfortable truth. We are not in control of so many things. Viruses. Natural disasters. Other people’s behaviour. Our minds and our media are full of questions we can’t possibly know the answer to.
‘How will we eat? Where will it end? How will I face the death of my family member? The death of my job? The death of my way of living?’
Fear is not designed for a sustained response. It’s an instinct to protect us from immediate danger. Fight or flight. That’s perfect if you’re dealing with an instant issue – it might even save your life, but living in an ongoing atmosphere of fear means that the fight becomes with our governments… or our neighbours, and flight turns into anxiety and despair. And as we lose our fingernail grip on the control we thought we had on the world, fury sets in. Frustration. Finger-pointing. Hate.
Hindsight is 20/20 – but 2020 doesn’t yet have the privilege of that.
So what can we do? When our hearts are breaking at the loss and injustice we see all around us?
We kneel before our God, who has the power to heal our land. We fall on our knees before him in humility. We call on his great love – the antithesis of fear.
And then we take control of what we do have in our hands: our ability to keep working to empower people around the world to step out of poverty – material and spiritual. Our voices raised in righteous anger to speak out against injustice – toward our world and our fellow man (or woman).
It’s what’s at the heart of our work in many areas as we set up church and community transformation through things like self-help groups. In many environments conflict, climate change, disease and natural disaster – all things which are largely outside of the control of the people affected – result in poverty.
Without their basic needs fulfilled, it’s nearly impossible for people to fulfil their God-given potential. Giving them the training, means and tools to transform their own communities and lives places power into the hands of individuals and communities. This feeds not only their families' bellies, but their hearts and minds – understanding that they can have hope for the future. And their children. And their children. Birthing a lasting change that has the power to transform generations.
We’re being part of the stories of change for people like Wogasso in Ethiopia. He has gone from feeling helpless, hopeless and broken to having restored relationships with his family, lifting himself and them out of poverty and facing a future with friends and with hope.
‘I have a bright future with God,’ he declares.
It’s what is at the heart of our campaigning work. Though sometimes the issues may seem so deeply ingrained that they are beyond our control, we do not stay silent. We speak up for people and our planet. For all of creation. We love – with patience, kindness, forgiveness and hope. We live our faith, following Jesus where the need is greatest, standing up against injustice through our actions and not just with our words.
For what are our words without love? And what is our love without action?
We follow the one who spoke up for the widow and the orphan, for the downtrodden and the unheard. Our Jesus.
‘He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’ (Micah 6:8)
What is required of us is clear. The rest is his. Approaching him with humility we acknowledge this. He is the one who is able to intervene in the places where we cannot. God is only on lockdown if we don’t call on him to move. He gave us the right to choose him.
Let us look up. Let us call on his hand to move – surely his arm is not too weak to save, nor his ear too deaf to hear. (Isaiah 59:1)
The whole Bible is filled with stories of people whose faith defied the circumstances around them. Jericho’s walls. The expanse of seemingly impassable water straight ahead of a fleeing nation. A barren woman and an aged man holding onto the promise that their seed would produce many nations. They saw their problems. And they looked to their God.
We walk by faith and not by sight.
During this time, as we continue to work around the world, we have been so encouraged by the faith of many of those we work with and for. We would love to share with you these words from Jennipher Sakala, who leads Tearfund’s work in southern and east Africa. We pray that they will bless you and feed your faith.
‘“Be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” Those were the words of our Lord Jesus Christ at the time of his excruciating death on the cross. We share with you... here from southern and east Africa, messages of hope and encouragement during this very difficult time. We... are very encouraged by your resilience, by your continued support and your hard work towards helping out other countries.’