I love listening to the Valaam Monastery Choir.
The music calms me and helps me to focus. The turmoil of thoughts in my head seems to slow down.
The story of Jeremiah 32 is in my head even before lockdown. On about 8 March a researcher send out a Telegram that the virus will have devastating effects. “This is a disaster. People will lose their jobs, their houses, their savings.” Interestingly, when the President announced the lockdown, he also used the word “disaster.” Ever since 8 March, reading that Telegram, Jeremiah 32 is in my head.
The story of Jeremiah 32 (you can read it yourself) is that Jeremiah is imprisoned. Jerusalem besieged, Jeremiah believes the Jews will be carried away to Babylon (he was right). Then he is forced to buy a piece of land. Who buys land in time of a disaster? Who buys land that you know you will never use? Jeremiah does. He then puts all the contracts and deeds in a clay pot, because he believes, even if he will never “own” the land, his children, or grandchildren will.
Jer 32: 15 “For this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.”
How do I do what Jeremiah did? How do I, in time of a virus, act with faith and hope? It has always been difficult for me to express my feelings. Irritation, like when I made that Hilux video, is easy. It is on the surface. I have an impatience with people who do not stop to think before they just share things on social media. Irritation is easy. But how do I verbalise the feelings I experienced when I read about Edcon on Wednesday evening – Lockdown Day 0? I know about Edcon. They have been in trouble for a long time. I have an idea their business was always a type of boom-bust affair. I can remember that Willie Hamman, my favouriet professor who reminds me of Morrie, had us analyse Edcon annual statements and how their ups and downs correlated with their debtors. I know about Edcon. But it is not just Edcon. It is all the suppliers downstream who are now affected. It is the employees, from Edcon right back to the smallest supplier, who are affected. It is at this point where a sob wants to escape from my heart! The suffering on a personal level …
The images from Italy, deaths, sickness, people being treated on the streets, are terrible. On a personal level the suffering is terrible. Every person who dies is a member of a family. The worry about a sick loved one must be terrible. There is no guarantee that this will pass me by. Soon we can/will have the same situation in South Africa. This carries me through – I have no control over it. I have to walk the road as the road goes. And act with faith and hope, like Jeremiah. Unfortunately, saying it is a lot easier than doing it!
Perhaps there is more to this? Perhaps it is now like Jesus said: ”Let the dead bury their own dead.” (I am not trying to explain these Bible verses, just quoting on the sound of it!) What about the living? How about the Chinese factory workers returning to work, but there is no work because orders were cancelled or deliveries postponed, because Europe is now going through the same process as China?
What about our own workers in South Africa? How do I “buy land” as Jeremiah did, in a time like this? On what do I base my hope and faith? What can I do to build a new (and hopefully better) future? One thing is sure, the world into which I will exit lockdown is different from the world from which I entered lockdown. And as a few days has gone by, not necessarily worse! There are too many signs of humanity everywhere.
In these times we do not complain about what we do not have, we are grateful for what we do have.
This morning I pray a prayer one my clients sent me:
Friends, please pray with me for people in terrible circumstances in small shacks or rooms. That they will understand the seriousness of the situation and that God will help them with patience. Please pray for the addicts who now have to go without alcohol or cigarettes and that they will see they do not need it.
Please pray for businesses like mine and Edcon who now cannot pay rent, medical aid, PAYE and other commitments. There have to be thousands like us. Please pray for a miracle.
Pray for churches who are now without income and they will be able to fulfil there commitments miraculously.
Pray for our President who has to make difficcult and unpopular decisions
Pray for all of us for survival of this disaster. Pray for people all over the world who are affected by this virus.
Please pray for my family and myself who are in lockdown, as I pray for yours.
May you experience peace and blessings in this time of isolation.
That is my prayer too.