COVID-19 Update 01 April 2020
22 REASONS TO BE THANKFUL – EVEN DURING A PANDEMIC
In this challenging season of uncertainty, fear, sickness, death and economic worry brought by the global COVID-19 crisis, it is hard not to be crippled by anxiety and sadness. The Bible never ignores or minimises the pain and sadness of human suffering. Jesus himself cried when he saw his dear friends Martha and Mary stricken with grief at the loss of their brother Lazarus. But God’s Word does encourage God’s people not to surrender to self-pity but rather to ‘count our blessings’ – to remember how loved and blessed we are to be saved by Jesus. One of the most wonderful reminders of our privileges in Christ is Psalm 103. The psalm is arranged in twenty-two verses, each of which starts with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet – it’s like the old London A-Z – an A-Z of blessings for us to remember how precious we are to our heavenly Father. Why not read this, stopping to thank God in prayer after each verse, and pray that the rest of our church family, perhaps especially our NHS and other key workers, would feel comforted by these great truths for themselves. So here they are – twenty-two reasons to be thankful – even during a pandemic:
1 Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
In Hebrew this reads, ‘Praise the LORD, I tell my throat; all my internal organs, praise his holy name’ –the writer calls his inner being to praise God – to his face in thankfulness and to others in evangelism;
1. He’s our loving Saviour! (2-5)
2 Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits –
It’s easy to presume upon our health and material comforts – but a pandemic humbles us to recognise how dependent we are upon God’s kindness, and to celebrate his salvation – in three stages…
3 Who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
He pardons our failures and heals our sicknesses until one day in his new creation we shall be free from sin and sickness forever and ‘there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain’;
4 Who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
By his Son’s death in our place the LORD has ransomed us from the eternal hell we deserve for the eternal honours of his merciful affection and gracious care; and then…
5 Who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Our frustrated desires for security, significance and joy find lasting satisfaction in the security of his love, the significance of being his children and the joy of his salvation – which strengthen our weary and fearful souls;
2. He’s our Merciful Redeemer! (6-12)
6 The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.
Celebrating the LORD’s redemption of his oppressed people from slavery in Egypt, the Psalmist points forward to our liberation from sin and vindication before our critics through the death of Jesus;
7 He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:
The LORD revealed himself and his ways to Moses in the redemption of his enslaved people by his power revealed in the plagues, the Passover and the crossing of the Red Sea which all point to the death of Jesus;
8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
This first half of the LORD’s name summarising his character which was revealed to Moses, celebrates his mercy and kindness, his patience and overflowing faithfulness toward God’s people in Christ;
9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbour his anger for ever;
While we deserve the LORD’s wrath and anger, the psalmist praises the LORD for his patient mercy and willingness to forgive through sending his son to suffer his wrath in our place;
10 He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
This is not to say God is unjust but that he doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve because Jesus volunteered to be pierced for our transgressions and punished for our iniquities on the cross – we owe him everything;
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;
The psalmist uses immeasurable distances to illustrate God’s immeasurable and inexhaustible love;
12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
Since Jesus has died in our place, God has taken the guilt and consequences of our sin away forever;
3. He’s our Everlasting Father! (13-18)
13 As a Father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
Our loving heavenly father provides what we need and protects us from anything bad for us becoming like Jesus, including a loving family, the comfort of his Spirit, hearing our prayers and a glorious inheritance;
14 For he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
He is also a sympathetic father who knows our frailties because he created us – he knows we are dust, of the chemicals of the earth, frail in our humanity and mortality – and he never expects too much of us;
15 As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field;
God is humbling us all in this pandemic – to recognise that, however much we exercise and diet, our lives our brief and fragile and may be ended by God through Coronavirus or cancer or old age as he decides;
16 The wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
God has reminded us in this crisis that we are not immortal. Our lives are brief and for all our effort to make a difference we will be quickly be forgotten in this world; where we spend eternity is of primary importance;
17 But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD‘s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children –
While Covid19 emphasises how temporary we are, how good it is to remember that God’s love for us is eternal, lasting from ‘from age to age’ in heaven, and will bless and provide for those we leave behind;
18 With those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
All these blessings are reserved for his adopted children, his people who have turned from sinful rebellion to keep his commands under his new covenant arrangement with his people established by Jesus’ blood;
4. So praise the Lord (19-22)
19 The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.
Our heavenly Father is the everlasting LORD, sovereign over heaven and earth; he has raised Jesus from the dead and enthroned him over his kingdom until he ends this world; so let us fear and worship him alone;
20 Praise the LORD, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.
Come on, you angels, sing up for the LORD!
21 Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will.
Come on, you heavenly, sing up for the LORD!
22 Praise the LORD, all his works everywhere in his dominion.
Come on, you galaxies and mountains and cities – sing up for the LORD!
Praise the LORD, O my soul
Come on my soul – let my words and behaviour praise him, let my priorities and decisions praise him, let my faith during this crisis praise him, let my prayer and evangelism praise him, come on my soul praise the LORD!
No Sunday or Small Group Gatherings
Please remember that we will not be meeting for Sunday gatherings or in our small groups until further notice.
Our Sunday gatherings will continue to be available on our website, dundonald.org/live-stream at your regular service time. If you miss the online service, sermon resources are available as always on our website, dundonald.org/media.
Prayer Meeting Tonight
Please join us for our monthly prayer meeting tonight, at 8 PM!
Things will be a little different, and we won’t be sharing the Lord’s supper, as this is something for Christians to do when we gather in person, but there’ll still be the same great opportunity to hear what’s going on at Dundonald, across London, and further afield, and to join in prayer to our generous Heavenly Father.
We’ll be meeting via Zoom, an online meeting tool. If you haven’t received the details by email, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Sadly, we won’t be able to all pray together out loud in the meeting, so please keep your microphone muted during the meeting. Pray as loud as you like at home! Once the meeting has started please turn off your video as this will enable a better call quality for everyone involved.