As a nation we are forgetting what our forebears did
By PETER SIMPSON
Many, including the Prime Minister, have likened the current coronavirus pandemic to the crisis faced by the nation in World War 2.
There is certainly one key area where at the present time we would do well to emulate what happened during the wartime years, and that is in respect of a corporate turning to God by means of national days of prayer.
In WW2, as various crises and turning points came into being, some 12 national days of prayer were held. This was reflecting an historic and long established tradition in which between 1535 and 1939 this country had conducted no less than 536 such occasions of public prayer and ‘humiliation’ in respect of national calamities, including outbreaks of plague and cholera and poor harvests.
During the course of the Second World War Britain was very dependent upon the importation of food by sea in order to feed the population. It was more than ever vital that the nation grew as much of its own food as possible. Christians were therefore praying that He would mightily bless the produce of the fields. The harvest in 1942 in fact brought forth one of the most abundant yields on record, so much so that the then Minister of Agriculture, R. S. Hudson, on the BBC News of October 10th, openly attributed the harvest to the intervention of the Trinitarian God in answering the people’s prayers.
So here we observe a Government minister being willing publicly to acknowledge the importance of prayer in a time of national crisis. Likewise today, the coronavirus crisis cannot be approached as if medical precautions and scientific research are the only possible solutions, yet that is exactly what is happening. The plain fact is that Britain is putting all its trust in science and in the public health experts. Of course, they have a vital role, but as a nation we are leaving God out of the picture altogether, and are resorting instead to a trust in human solidarity. In place of crying out, ‘Lord, have mercy upon us’, we are proclaiming, ‘We shall beat this by working together’.
What our secularised society fails to understand is that the coronavirus has come upon us in the providence of God, as do all events in this fallen world. Since the Fall of man in the Garden of Eden every generation has known sickness and disease as an aspect of life in a world in rebellion against God. To state this is not in any way to minimise the suffering which many individuals and families are going through because of Covid-19, all of whom are very much in our prayers at this time, along with the frontline hospital workers.
This pandemic must be approached, not just as a medical and scientific matter, but as a spiritual issue also. Whilst we take all the necessary medical precautions, we must not make them our only trust. Does the possibility of finding a vaccine mean that as a nation we can forget our dependence on the Creator God? To do so is to idolise science.
How we rather need to seek the Lord Jesus Christ, He who has been the mighty Deliverer of our country in times past, and He who has power over all disease. How we need to humble ourselves at a time like this, for we are a nation which for many decades now has failed to honour God, He who in His providence determines the well-being or otherwise of all the nations.