Not knowing what will happen tomorrow
On Friday evening, after long Zoom meetings and some fretting around our kitchen table about what food we need to purchase, I was looking for a bit of an escape. And the BBC obliged! The Miranda Christmas Special was on – laugh-out-loud fun, loads of social connection, another time and place. The proverb rang true that a cheerful heart is good medicine.
The next day, it was back to reality with all the news laid out in black-and-white. I was intrigued by an article in The Times, comparing the Blitz spirit of WW2 with how we’re responding now. Apparently it wasn’t all communal pulling together, but there was an acceptance of a different reality. Some took advantage – pickpockets in bomb shelters, black market trading, looting bombed shops – but many adapted in more positive ways.
I began to wonder if this might be our generation’s war or miners’ strike or three-day-week? Will we be telling stories to the next generation of how we responded, hopefully in ways that honour God and care for our neighbour – ways that we’ll be glad to regale anyone who will listen? Of our courage and confidence, of the Lord’s provision and providence, of faith built up and hope renewed?
In the midst of these more noble thoughts, I felt myself also grumbling. I don’t like change! I want to go back to watching Miranda in a time when no-one knew of Covid-19. I want to see football scores in my news feed, and pretend I can eat in restaurants that are reviewed in the papers, and plan my summer holiday. I actually want to cycle to Paddington and board the 7.20 to Oxford and put the coffee on in the kitchen! And those were the thoughts I was wrestling with as I tried to find the first church service livestreaming on Sunday morning. It didn’t look good for my plans of being one of the heroes of the 2020 stories that I hope to tell in years to come.
For someone who can’t help but plan, to make connections and carry responsibility, these are frustrating times. But, they’re actually no different than a week ago – it’s just that we’re facing reality with so much of the veneer of comfort stripped away.
Enter James 4. To the scattered tribes, facing trials of many kinds, James called these early disciples to endure, to show their faith in their deeds, to be humble before God. James 4:13 and following hit me the hardest.
‘Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow’ (James 4:14)
I thought I did! I counted on alarms, train timetables, and meetings to give me reliable structure and value. If I’m honest, I’ve boasted in my arrogant schemes, according to verse 16 – and all such boasting is evil. My confidence in my plans has exposed that my faith hasn’t been entirely in Jesus but in idols of my own making. I can’t count on them or that the mist of my life will not vanish before tomorrow.
Now, I’m not encouraging us to worry even more about our health and our life. On the contrary, as we cast these cares upon the One who cares, then we will find peace. And according to James, we can know the good we ought to do and we can do it.
For us, as long as we’re healthy enough to, we can do our part in making disciples of Jesus Christ in the student world. How we do that requires ingenuity and teamwork like never before. We’ve got to grasp the challenge, give thanks for the technology, and work well. Good communication from a place of reliance upon Jesus and humility before one another will help us to adapt. Let’s pray for one another, that we will do the good we ought to do in this season of change.
Brian Weaver is UCCF's Chief Operating Officer.
How do we shine as Christians in a time of crisis? Read this blog from Relay Worker Fi Jamieson.