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?
There are only 22 countries in the world that Britain has not invaded, out of a total of 200. These include Chad, The Vatican and Sweden. Surely Sweden must be next on the list – think of all the Volvos!
Why am I sharing this wonderful piece of information with you? Not just because I love a good fact (which I do), but because Psalm 79 reminds me of some of the prayers that I hear for the country I come from.
1 O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple, they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble. 2 They have left the dead bodies of your servants as food for the birds of the sky, the flesh of your own people for the animals of the wild. 3 They have poured out blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there is no one to bury the dead. 4 We are objects of contempt to our neighbours, of scorn and derision to those around us.
Israel had been invaded. It had been overrun by its enemies (Babylon & Assyria). The temple, the centre of the Jewish faith, had been defiled. Asaph is praying for God to come and sort it out.
(NB. If you are wondering about the violent and vengeful nature of this psalm, please go back and look at earlier posts e.g. Psalm 59).
The prayers I sometimes hear for my nation, the UK – and it is similar when I hear prayers for other nations that have historically seen themselves as ‘Christian’, are similar to the prayers in Psalm 79. We think that in the past things were better, more godly, closer to God – and that now things have gone wrong, and we need to pray our nation back to God.
Our nation, and every nation, need to come to God – no question. It is part of the promise that this will happen. But has my nation, or any nation ever really been following God?
Britain in the past had higher church attendance and more people identified as Christians – but is also has had slavery, child labour, racism, colonialism (hence all the invading), greed, adulterous kings and prime ministers, civil war, bigotry ….. I could go on. It’s not just the UK, I could do this with any nation.
So, please pray for your nation. But let’s not be too confident that the past was better than the present.
When I read Psalm 79 it stirs me to pray for God’s people, the church (some also like to pray specifically for Israel). The church around the world is a mixture of mess and glory. God has called the church to be the light of the world – to reflect God’s glory. Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn’t. Let us take the inspiration of PSalm 79 to pray for the church to shine brighter, and for God to be seen in all the nations.
8 Do not hold against us the sins of past generations; may your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need. 9 Help us, God our Saviour, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake. 10 Why should the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’
13 Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you for ever; from generation to generation we will proclaim your praise.
God, come. Forgive, cleanse and bless your church, that the world will see more of you. Amen.