How long?

I don’t know how things are going for you at the moment, but for me, time has become a strange thing. IMG_9499

If I stop and count I can work out that it’s over 70 days since I last touched another human being.  But I can’t really grasp that.  Half remembered flashes of life not much more than two months ago are generally of people milling about, at ease with the presence of each other.  The weeks since then of empty streets and cautious dancing around supermarket strangers are real and yet not quite real.  And in the midst of it all, this cry I hear in my own heart, and that I sense in the hearts of others, this cry of ‘How long?’, rises up.

We often want to know the answer to the question: ‘How long?’  It is behind the anticipation and impatience of a child’s ‘are we there yet?’ When there is no obvious end in sight to a situation that feels difficult or uncomfortable the question can become a groan from deep within us.  The question holds within it a desire for control, if only we can tie things down to a fixed duration then we can plan to cope with things in a certain way.

In the Bible, the groan of ‘How long, O Lord?’ often comes from a prophetic voice yearning for God to come and sort out situations that feel unjust.  As we face this coronavirus pandemic with concerns about family and friends, about health and finances, we may also find our attention drawn to people who are trapped in situations of domestic violence, or increased poverty, people whose age or mental health means increased isolation at this time.  It may be that this pandemic unveils injustice that we have be blinded to by our own busyness.  I feel challenged that I want to know how long it is until I can do what I want to do again, but don’t so readily feel that prophetic urge to work for a different future that looks more like the kingdom of God than the world we have pressed pause on.

The Christian faith holds out hope that God knows the end from the beginning and holds our times in God’s hands.  And most amazingly that God trusts us to be part of bringing a world of peace and justice, healing and reconciliation into reality, a world characterised by love.  Whilst everything around us feels like it is out of control, I find increasingly the place of prayer, and trust in God is a place of peace and hope.  I don’t know what the future will bring, but I choose to trust in the One who does.  I hope you can.

Jo Pestell

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