I’ve been reading Erik Larson’s book, The Splendid and the Vile, that tells the story of the Battle of Britain from the perspective of Winston Churchill and his immediate family. From June 10, 1940 until June 1941, London and several other cities in Great Britain endured nightly bombings and the threat if invasion from Nazi forces. Air raid sirens would wail and bombs fall in the darkness of night and then the people would go out to see the destruction, put out the fires and search for survivors in the rubble. The bombings would kill 45,000 people (30,000 from London) and destroyed two million homes. Industry and commerce were disrupted both through the bombings and attacks at sea. And yet the people of Britain showed great courage and perseverance.
Years ago, I visited a church in Wetzlar, Germany that dates back to 1230. Inside the church, there is a small chapel that contains a sculpture that was created to memorialize the deaths that took place from the Black Death in the 14th century. The church building was already more than 200 years old when that town experience the plague and it has continued on another 600 years to this day.
It is in adversity that we find our true capacity. It’s one thing to ask God to help my life be better. It’s another thing to pray for life itself. Now we pray for a nation that grieves 100,000 lives lost and widespread unemployment. And we grieve the loss of life and illness around the world.
There are no quick answers to our prayers, even when there is so much that weighs in the balance. There are no simple solutions to bring relief. No going back to the way things were before. Now is the time to think about the sort of world we chose for ourselves going forward.
We can walk by faith that is not naive, but based on God’s eternal promises. We can persevere, even while we mourn the loss of so many. We can look to God to find “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.”
As people of faith, there is much we can do and God will be with us. We can:
- treasure the chance to connect with family.
- slow down our lives so that we might ponder what makes life full and complete
- let go of the opinions that have divided us so much in the past
- listen to the birds, watch the squirrels and rabbits in the yard, take the dog for a walk and wave to neighbors that you hardly ever saw before
- be still and make room in our lives to encounter God who waits for us
We can open our hearts to find genuine and enriching community, a connection with other people. It’s in times of testing and crisis that we learn. In this time, we can decide to make a better tomorrow.
Grace and peace be with you,