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Only a Suffering God can Help

20 March 2020

Without a shadow of a doubt the God that Christians worship and follow is known for being in favour of the weakest people in his world. Jesus’ messianic manifesto, for example, includes: ‘He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour’ (Luke 4.18-19). His whole ministry was marked by outcasts (either because of reputation or their illness) in society seeking him out in a very deliberate way. Jesus was moved with compassion towards these poor souls and gave them his time and revealed his power and mercy in their lives. As the church of Jesus spread in those early decades one of their key objectives was ‘to care for orphans and widows in their distress’ (James 1.27).

The worldwide spread of COVID-19 and the subsequent rulings from our Governments has strongly advised that we limit social contact and self-isolate to protect ourselves and others from the spread of the virus. This is putting huge strain on the way we live our lives, but this affects those who were already isolated and vulnerable the most.

We’re in a period of time across the world that the weakest require help and support more than ever before in our lifetime. The weakest are so often isolated. The vulnerable can be at the greatest risk of falling foul of the coronavirus by virtue of being vulnerable.

At the coalface, churches across the country are doing what they can to support people in incredible ways, motivated by Jesus. A local church in Ayr, for example, people are taking their foodbank on the road. Instead of expecting people to leave their homes, the church is taking food parcels to them and leaving them on their doorstep as a way of love and support.

I heard of an old man faintly groaning in his local Tesco when he discovered there were no longer any eggs on the shelves due to panic buying. The person next to him in the aisle picked this up and put her box of eggs in his basket.

The NHS is pooling their resources and working in ways that they probably haven’t since WWII, which is when the NHS had its genesis. I heard of a friend who is a physiotherapist and her team being redeployed to work in infection wards to aid in the task of treating those who are seriously ill with the virus.

In the Westminster Parliament there are still debates happening in person which will affect in a direct manner what will happen to the most weak and vulnerable. There’s a debate in Westminster Hall this week on human trafficking and how we shape our resources to help this most afflicted of victims. What do people who have been trafficked for exploitation do, where do they go, if they get the virus? We need to pray that good calls are made in this case and across the board in the UK for the vulnerable so that there is a practical response of love and mercy in society

What can you do to help be a solution at this scary time in world history? A question that demands practical answers.

The God who became a human being did so that he could ‘free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death’ (Heb. 2.15). As his body, his arms, legs, let us do good, real practical good, to alleviate the suffering of the most weak and vulnerable. And in doing so to alleviate the fear of death that is pandemic across our nation because death has been completely undermined for those who are coming face-to-face with it. Only a suffering God can help.

By Stuart Weir, National Director of CARE for Scotland

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