The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I was always confused by the title and didn’t know which was which!

My honest lament 08/10/20

I’m afraid I do need to lament again, and I say that deliberately. I am afraid. I am scared of some of the things that I see and hear and sense and feel. And I feel powerless and small and completely lacking in wisdom and knowledge of the truth. I believe that You are bigger than all of it and I pray to be close to Your heart, Lord, but then I ask You to be gentle with me, because my own heart is already overwhelmed with the weight of sorrow in the world. I deliberately don’t have a TV or newspapers, because there is enough suffering, need, and work to do around me, and I can only carry a limited amount. I sob enough as it is. You know this Lord, but as I sit with You I am overcome with grief – grief at the weight of suffering and despair all around the world. Grief at the sin, the greed, the hatred, the lies, the deceit, the abuse of power, the violence and the lack of knowledge of You. And I know I should not fear – Your word tells me every day of the year – 365 times You wrote “Do not fear”, and I know that You don’t give us a spirit of fear, or of timidity, or of confusion, and yet I do feel all of those things as I drop to my knees… and I repent of my fear and confusion, for fear is sin and lack of faith, but that is why I need to lament – because it is really there in me; You and I both know of it, so it needs to come out. And so I will do as You instruct and I will “pour out my heart like water in the presence of the Lord”. (Lamentations 2:19)

There is such a strong sense that Your people, who are called by Your name, need to humble themselves and pray… for then You will hear from heaven, You will forgive our sin and You will heal our land – this world. Amen. (2 Chronicles 7:14) Your word never returns to You void, but accomplishes all You intend. All through Scripture, since Adam and Eve, You have been calling Your people to return to You – for we are so stupid, so fickle, so stiff-necked and arrogant! Lord, have mercy on us. We are all calling upon You now.

There are two themes running through my lament, but those two themes have come together – first I was lamenting about this whole virus pandemic and the unprecedented way that Governments world-wide have sought to control their populations with the “excuse” or “strategy” of trying to control the virus and prevent deaths. And maybe they genuinely are! And I use inverted commas, because unfortunately I don’t have a great deal of faith in our powers that be, to say the least. I am a bit of a sceptic, you might say. The evidence that “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” is rather evident from my perspective on the world. But I don’t just want to slag off the rich and powerful – this is not a political lament, Lord, it is a spiritual lament; for we are in a spiritual battle, I think, and it is not powers of flesh and blood that I lament – though it does present itself in such forms… I’m way out of my depth here, Lord, but it worries me. I was reading all the alternative view on this new virus control – the so-called “conspiracy theories” and they truly are very compelling – not least because so many of them posted on YouTube or Facebook suddenly “disappear” without warning, or are “taken down”… And I become very suspicious when views are silenced and people and ideas disappear. And this ties me back in to my earlier lament about the atrocities in China and the fact that nothing seems to be being done about it – not even much said about it. I hear constantly from Open Doors and Barnabas Fund about the persecution of entire cultures and communities of people, because of their religion or ethnicity – and I know this isn’t new and is widespread; I know it happens all over the world – in Burkina Faso, in other African countries, in India, Middle East, far East and even in the West, though much more subtly of course. Vast numbers of people are simply wiped out, displaced; genocide, refugees everywhere… we are aware of it and we sympathise and want them to be settled – we just don’t want them in our tidy neighbourhood! But yes, I have a heart for China and India, because I was there for 3 weeks in each, and I met and loved people, and I tried to learn and speak the language – and I have loved-ones who lived in and loved these places… so they are close to my heart and I pray for them and look out for them… And I watched countless videos about the plight of the Uighurs, the secret concentration camps and the orphanages for the children of the incarcerated Uighurs; about the indoctrination of the Han Chinese, who do seem to believe that such people are “being re-educated for their own good”… of the new ‘points’ system, whereby each Chinese citizen is monitored and surveilled; and what a person buys, where they go, what they watch, what they say, who they say it to, how they behave…. It is all monitored and they get points added and deducted, and they lose points for buying alcohol, or watching or doing something deemed “illegal” – and a loss of points can mean that they are denied a train ticket, that travel and other spending, or activities, is restricted or denied and then they may be arrested and taken away for questioning… I find it so scary! It seems like 1984, but with modern technology and even fewer places to hide! Maybe I read Orwell at too impressionable an age, but Orwell had no idea where technology would be able to reach. I have had discussions about why I don’t want a cashless society, why I don’t want a smart-phone, why I don’t want to get rid of all my CDs and DVDs and rely just on one piece of technology! I know that makes me seem like a dinosaur, a technophobe, an old-fashioned antique – but it’s more than that – I am concerned! If the electricity supply was cut off, or our computer systems hacked, or they got a virus, we would all be lost in a world we know longer knew how to navigate! And I know people laugh at me, that’s okay. I still fear it happening. I’m sure Noah, Moses, Abraham and a few of the greats (with whom I do not compare in the slightest, of course) were ridiculed and mocked – “You’re building a boat? Here in the desert?” And maybe they had moments of doubt? The thing is that hindsight is the greatest of teachers, and so it still takes a great step on faith to get out of the boat! (Excuse me for mixing metaphors) So, I also fear the level of surveillance I feel, if I send an email to HMRC or buy something on Ebay, the same item or information pops up as an advert on my Facebook site! I find that disconcerting to say the least! I recently re-read 1984, because of all that I could see happening and was amazed that people actually choose to buy a device that hears everything they say and will respond if you say, “Alexa, do this”… It makes me want to throw away even my laptop – but they have us by the short and curlies, cos we have to do some things online now – it is almost impossible not to have online utilities and banking… – and then COVID happened!!! And we were told to stay indoors for 3 weeks… Three weeks, I exclaimed, incredulous! Of course it’s all for our own good… and we don’t want to be responsible for killing Grandma, do we? But we’ll pay (most of, but we’ll give the real details later) your wages, they said – furlough, they call it; you won’t lose your home or your job… in fact see it as a holiday at home. We’ll let you do your shopping for essentials – but, even better, do it ONLINE!!! Help one another, look after each other, but keep your distance – 2 metres – no hugging, cover your mouth, muffle your voice, be afraid of your neighbour – they may have the dreaded virus! We are doing it for your own good; we’re all in this together… and 3 weeks became 3 months, became 6 months… new restrictions, bubbles, all sorts of hoops to jump through to keep safe, protect others, control the virus, control the people… can’t go to school, can’t go to church, can’t sing and worship… do it all online! Yay! Wonderful zoom – allows us to have everything monitored and drives us just that bit further apart… we forget people, we get used to zoom and restrictions, we become afraid of one another, visitors are not allowed in our homes, no hugging, no laughing or singing… cancel the holidays and the parties and the celebrations, cancel the gatherings and the meetings and the fellowship, cancel the weddings and funerals and sense of occasion – get as many online as possible and get them to the point when they are desperate for a vaccine. And wait a bit longer and then we have them eating out of the palm of our hands! But what about the sceptics who refuse a vaccine? There are always a few that fall through the net and won’t be indoctrinated, that never trust authorities… these “conspiracy theorists” – well, we just won’t let them have their freedom back – if they won’t be vaccinated, we’ll say they are a danger and a menace – we will blacklist them and refuse them to travel and such – we will curtail their liberty (it works in China) – for the good of the majority of course – and the majority will believe us, they will malign those rebels and exclude them themselves – people will be so grateful to have their “freedom” back that they will police our plans themselves…

Lord, this is my lament, my fears and my confusion and the garbled thoughts on my heart. And in prayer I went to read Revelations, where You inspired John to write about end times stuff, and there I read (Rev 13: 16) “He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no-one could buy or sell unless he had this mark…” Is this what it is? The biometrics tags they propose and the vaccine we may be forced to have… that will be used to ‘track and trace’ us? In Revelations, this beast that forced the mark, “was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast – all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.” (Rev 13: 7-8) So I don’t know who or what to believe in the world or the news. It goes on to say (in Rev 13) “This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints” (verse 10) and later – “This calls for wisdom.” (verse 18) I believe that You do know, Lord. I believe that you have conquered sin and death. I believe You are on the throne, that You are the King of Kings and The Lord of Lords. You are there from the beginning right through to the end and You know every step along the way. You are here with me now. And I believe that You want Your children to repent and turn to You with all our hearts, and You ask us to be strong in faith and to trust You and obey You. And please God that I will. Please God that I will not be pulled this way or that away from Your will and that I will resist evil and always know how and where to do good. I pray that You will have Your way over us, protect Your people, draw more people into Your Kingdom through the very strategies of confusion that were meant for evil. I thank You that Your church is growing daily in all the places where there is persecution… I pray for grace and mercy for those who suffer and for those of us who may yet have to suffer, for Your glory. Strengthen Your people in Your Power and Your Truth, Holy Father. Amen.

If you read this to the end and think I’ve gone cuckoo, please comment that you are praying for me, and please do so. I may add that I wear a mask in public places and abide by all of the rules and restrictions that the Government has imposed on us to’ keep one another safe’. I’m simply being honest about what is going on in my mind as I pray for our leaders and our world. Blessings.