The first casualties of upheaval can be love, kindness, and patience. But crisis is also a moment when love for God & one another can spring up. For 150 days, starting on 17th March 2020, I will write 300 words based on one of the 150 psalms in the bible. How can I find and give love in the midst of coronavirus?
What’s the best thing about being a Christian? I was asked this years ago and the answer came straight away: “For the first time in my life I am able to be myself. I can stop pretending. Stop trying to put on an image.”
It was liberating – and that process of learning to live in the fact that I am welcomed by God, despite my rubbish – continues to this day. Part of realising this was the way that I was accepted by the people in the church that I joined. Despite being a rather arrogant young man – they welcomed me into the family.
This is part of what God wants to do with all of us. Here are some of the words of Psalm 68:
4 Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him – his name is the Lord. 5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. 6 God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
The psalm writer describes God firstly as the one who rides on the clouds – that’s powerful, big-God sort of stuff. And then he suddenly switches to saying that He is the father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, that He sets the lonely in families and leads prisoners to freedom with singing.
This is amazing. Orphans, widows, the lonely and prisoners – these were (and often still are) at the bottom rung of society. These aren’t the winners, the big-shots – but God specifically comes to them.
Even if we are not an orphan (I wasn’t), a widow (I wasn’t), lonely (I wasn’t) or a prisoner (I wasn’t) we all know the feelings of being left out, on our own and feeling trapped. God desires to find us, and change this. This is part of who he is.
The church did this for me. Churches are strange communities, full of odd people. But, and it’s a big but – they are often (not always) communities that can express love and welcome to all kinds of people – all of us who feel odd, lonely or trapped. This has been my experience, again and again. This is what the church is meant to be like. And it helped me to experience the God who is a father to the fatherless, and who puts the lonely in families.
May you know this God today. Love Matt
PS. Psalm 68 is long and amazing. There are some many things in it that are good. Please read the whole thing 🙂