I think for many the experience of this current lockdown has been more difficult than that of the previous one. Perhaps there are many reasons for this, ranging from people being wearied of their freedoms being restricted and not being able to see loved ones, to having real health issues and not being able (or being scared of) accessing the relevant health care professional. As we all look back and consider the last twelve months I’m sure we all would come to the conclusion that not only has it been a different year but it has also been a difficult year.
The well known author Francis Chan describes Joni Eareckson Tada as the most Spirit-filled person he knows, saying that it is impossible to have a conversation with Joni for ten minutes without her breaking out in song, quote Scripture, or give a word of encouragement. Joni’s life took a very different course when in 1967, aged 17 years, due to a diving accident was left a quadriplegic. She spent the next two years in a hospital bed with an overwhelming desire to end her life. The thought of her being paralysed from the neck down being dependant on others for the rest of her life was too much for her. Yet, over the course of time, she decided to surrender her life totally over to the Lord and has since been greatly used by Him. For example, the establishment of ‘Joni and Friends Disability Centre’ which impacts thousands of families around the globe, has a five minute radio programme ‘Joni and Friends’ listened to by over one million people weekly and through ‘Wheels for the World’ which has distributed tens of thousands of refurbished wheelchairs to the developing nations.
Joni says rather than her life being destroyed by disability and difficulty ‘My weakness, that is, my quadriplegia, is my greatest asset because it forces me into the arms of Christ every single morning when I get up…I want to stay in the habit of glancing at my problem and gazing at my Lord.’
This is good advice for us all for in Hebrews 12:2 we read ‘looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.’
We also read in Hebrews 4:15-16 ‘For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.’
It is for us in these unprecedented days to discipline ourselves to gaze upon our Lord Jesus Christ who is infinitely greater than any problem or difficulty we are currently facing and to be aware that because of His humanity He knows exactly how we feel and gives us the necessary grace to help us through.
To quote Numbers 6:24-26 ‘The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.’