I was in a prayer meeting the other day where we were encouraged that Christ is the one who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine. The leader asked us what we were able to imagine for the future, for the children in the church, for the work of the Gospel in our country and what God might be doing in our own lives through COVID.
My thoughts were also turned to Joshua 1: 4 and 9. There, Joshua is told to be “strong and courageous” or “fearless.” The context of this is that the people have come through the wilderness and learnt to trust God. Now, he is going to do immeasurably more than the people could ask or imagine. YHWH is going to provide them with a land described as “flowing with milk and honey”, rich in produce, giant clusters of grapes, already planted fields ready for harvest and strong citadels that God would take for them and allow them to occupy. That’s the context for fearless faith.
And that’s the word I think of when I think about what we should be praying for looking forward. At times I think there has been a hesitancy and fearfulness about the church’s response at this time. I think particularly of those who have responded to lockdowns with fear. They’ve worried about an authoritarian state that will take away our liberties if we don’t orm alliances with other defenders of free speech to protest.
I see something different potentially happening. Of course, lockdown hasn’t been great. We know that the aim of the government is to do what is best for the people but es, we have lost freedoms, it has felt like house arrest and it has meant severe restrictions on gathering together. Of course, this is the day to day experience of many Christians around the world under governments who have no concern in protecting them from a virus.
So, maybe, just maybe God has used this terrible season to teach us that even if we lose our freedoms, even if we are detained at home, even if public ministry is not possible, we can still depend on him. We have nothing to fear. He is with us. Whether we find that in future times real persecution comes here or whether God calls some of us to serve in closed countries, we can be strong and courageous. You can be fearless.