If we look back to 1st January 2020, all of us, I am sure, had expectations and plans for this year that are now, either uncertain, cancelled or postponed. In the middle of a secure world where medical advances had led us to believe that medicine can cure anything, we are suddenly faced with the insecurity that modern-day medicine cannot cure everything and that, despite the heroic efforts by medical staff, many have died in hospital as a result of the virus. Truthfully, we are currently facing a national trauma on a scale that, for the most part, we have not experienced since the end of World War 2.
Some six centuries before the birth of Christ, the people of Judah had to deal with a national trauma. Their security was in the fact that they were God’s chosen people and the central city, Jerusalem, was the site of the temple. This gave them such a sense of security and belief in their invincibility that the people were completely unable to comprehend any idea that might suggest otherwise. In 587 BC, Babylon completely destroyed Jerusalem, including the temple and the people taken into exile. This was a national trauma on an epic scale.
We can capture some of the trauma of that time in the biblical book, Lamentations in which the prophet laments over the fate of Jerusalem and its people.
There is not a lot of hope expressed within the book but it is not entirely absent. In the middle of the lament is an expression of trust:
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’S great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’ (Lam 3:21-24)
We can echo the prophet’s lament that the once bustling city (town or village) lies deserted (Lam 1:1). Yet, as people of faith, we need to have confidence in the God the prophet speaks of in these verses. He is the faithful God and his love and faithfulness can sustain us through this time.
Whenever it becomes possible to ease the lockdown, we will all, to some extent, feel the trauma of these months. However, we can hold onto the fact that as the prophet says God’s faithfulness is ‘great’. He was God before lockdown; he is God in the lockdown and he will still be God when the lockdown ends. To a traumatised people, the prophet said, God is faithful. To a traumatised people in St Mary’s Eaton Socon, the prophet says to us, so many centuries later: God is faithful. We can trust him.