Dear Friends,

These are unprecedented weeks for the peoples of the world as the coronavirus continues to spread faster than ever, bringing with it suffering and uncertainty. In this Thursday prayershot, Claire Bennett, at the heart of our ‘ad-ministry’ life together, working alongside Ruth Slater in Carlisle, brings a word of encouragement from her family life and from Psalm 121.

“I don’t know about you, but for me the lockdown has been a series of good days, great days, bad days and sad days. On the one hand we’ve had precious times of being a family together. No school. No gymnastics. No drop-offs or pick-ups. Lots of sunshine to enjoy. Having my husband at home, when he normally works away from home. It has been a blessing. However, on the other hand, spending so much time together makes everything feel more intense. Washing piles are higher. Preparing food never seems to stop – and yet I am thankful to have food to eat when so many others live from day-to-day, not knowing if they’ll be able to provide for their families. There are days when I wake up and feel utterly overwhelmed. It has been 13 weeks of lockdown already and school summer holidays are around the corner. There is no end in sight. The mountain to climb still seems so high.

Amidst the daily juggle of working from home and having the children at home, I have been spending time, more intentionally, reading the word and praying for my children. I long to see God move in their hearts and to know him as I do. I weep because of the mountain that still lies ahead and also because of my feelings of failure in not doing enough to share God with them. I fear for all that lies ahead of them and my inability to be able to protect them. And as I listen to my friends whose children do know the Lord, I realise that we share the same struggles, the same daily clashes over the smallest things. We are all facing the ‘what shall we do today?’ question, knowing that today will be the same as yesterday – and tomorrow!

But God is with us as we face the mountain. He wants us to come to him and to take our children to him as well. He is perfectly trustworthy, loving them and knowing them much more than we do. We are all leaning on him, waiting for him to lead us through these difficult uncertain days. Psalm 121 is such an encouragement:

I lift up my eyes to the mountains, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip - he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber not sleep.

The Lord watches over you - the Lord is your shade at your right hand: the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm - he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and for evermore.

It is Nancy Guthrie who noticed that “sometimes the road of launching a child into adulthood seems like a very steep hill. We wonder if we have the strength for the long haul … We can remind ourselves that the One who created the world in which we live, as well as the child whom we love, is committed to helping us along this lengthy journey … He will never become bored with our concerns, as we pour them out in prayer.” So, if today you feel like me and at the end of yourself, collapse in a heap at Jesus’ feet and bring all your cares and concerns to him.”