The sobering realities of the longer term impact of the Covid-19 virus pandemic are starting to emerge with the collapse of some well-known businesses. The most prominent last week was the Specialist Leisure Group that catered mainly for older people on coach holidays. Some of the best known coach firms in the United Kingdom, together with forty-four hotels have ceased trading.
In the same week another announcement was equally disappointing, Rolls Royce had employed sixteen thousand people in its civil aerospace division in the United Kingdom, but nine thousand redundancies were announced due to the downturn in air travel. Very few people will have no cause for concern in the coming months. The pressures on our politicians have not been as great for many years. We need to pray for them to have the wisdom they need to plan a way forward for our country.
Psalm 90 is one of the oldest Psalms, a composition of Moses, the visionary leader who brought the formerly enslaved Israelites out of Egypt and sought to mould them into a nation over the course of a forty-year period in the desert. It was a time of total change for all these people. The books of Exodus and Numbers record the many complaints brought to Moses from people struggling to accept that things had changed for ever. How did Moses look back on these difficult years and what was his source of strength and hope for the future. May we listen to and reflect on what he had to say to his first readers and hearers, words equally applicable to us today as well.
Our source of hope (Psalm 90:1-6) Lord, You have been our dwelling-place throughout all generations. 2 Before the mountains were born or You brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting You are God. 3 You turn people back to dust, thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. 5 they are like the new grass of the morning: 6 In the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered.
Our anchor point that is unchanging is the eternal presence of God. There has never been a time when He did not exist. The whole created order we see and that scientists investigate once did not exist, but God was there. In our lives, not only under the present emergency conditions, but also into the future things will change quite significantly; yet if we rely on God and trust in Him to guide us into our future we have a source of hope, because there is someone who is trustworthy. Have you put your faith and trust in Him? He alone not only knows what lies ahead of us, but is able to guide and direct us into that future pathway He has prepared for us. In such a time as this we need a guide to help us navigate our way. Jesus in John 14:6 declared: I am the way… Are you following Him?
The shortness of Life (Psalm 90:7-12) 7 We are consumed by Your anger and terrified by Your indignation. 8 You have set our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of Your presence. 9 All our days pass away under Your wrath; we finish our years with a moan. 10 Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures, yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. 11 If only we knew the power of Your anger! Your wrath is as great as the fear that is Your due. 12 Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
When we are children or even entering adult life in our late teens it appears we have many years of life to enjoy in the future. How quickly that time passes! Moses urged the people of Israel as well as later readers to live morally upright lives in the sight of God. We are accountable to Him. Therefore, make your time count and don’t let it just drift away. It is too precious for that. Ask God for wisdom to direct you in the best use of your time this week.
Our confidence for the future (Psalm 90:13-17) 13Relent, Lord! How long will it be? Have compassion on Your servants. 14 Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. 15 Make us glad for as many days as You have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble. 16 May your deeds be shown to Your servants, Your splendour to their children. 17 May the favour of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us – yes, establish the work of our hands.
Life in the desert was incredibly stressful. Patterns of working had gone. Living in tents rather than more permanent homes had quickly lost its appeal! The uncertainty of the food supply was a regular source of complaint.
How long will it be? (Psalm 90:13) was a question neither Moses then nor any leader today could answer with any degree of certainty. What is essential to grasp is that the only being who can make sense of it all is God. We need to heed the words of Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.
Our song for reflection today is ‘From everlasting to everlasting’