Food 4 Thought by Marcia Dixon

Counter the Effects of COVID with the Love of Christ this Christmas

Two years ago, many people across the world had their first Christmas away from their families due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the worldwide lockdown that was put in place to combat the spread of disease.

On reflection, it was a very lonely and painful time for many, and now that the world has returned somewhat to normal, people are truly enjoying and relishing the opportunity to socialise in person with others. The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown made us recognise how much we truly need to be amongst others; the importance of relationships; and why it’s necessary to treat each other with love, kindness and care.

This year we are entering a different type of Christmas season — one where people are feeling cash-strapped due to the cost-of-living crisis, made even more acute by the seemingly unstoppable increase in energy prices.

It’s going to be a hard Christmas for some, especially for the vulnerable, the unemployed and those on a low income, and it’s during times like these that the Church and its members need to live out their faith by offering words of encouragement and hope, as well as providing practical support to those in need. Scriptures says that we must.

The Word of God gives life and hope. King David wrote: ‘My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to Your Word’ (Psalm 119:28). We know there are many who are finding the cost-of-living crisis wearisome and worrying, but we can comfort them with God’s Word and give them hope. Remind them God can provide – even during difficult times.

The Word of God makes it clear: believers must offer more than pious platitudes to those in need.  James 2:14-17 states: ‘What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.’

There are so many ways Christians can offer practical support. We can do it on a one-to-one basis; volunteer at a charity/social enterprise that helps those in need; or contribute financially to a good cause. This is what ‘loving your neighbour’ looks like.

Christmas is always a great time of the year to show the love of God in all its glory – in both word and deed. And with the current struggles we know are ahead, there’s no better time to do so than now.

Know who your frenemies are

There’s been a story that recently went viral on social media about Shanquella Robinson, a 25-year-old American woman, who went on holiday to Mexico with her friends and came back in a body bag.

An anonymously released video showed the talented hair braider being beaten by a woman she thought was her friend. At the time of writing, the Mexican police authorities and FBI are investigating the cause of her death.

The reason I’m bringing up this case is because, should God spare our lives, there’s no need for us to enter 2023 with frenemies. You know the ones – those individuals who pretend to be your friends but aren’t. In fact, not only do they dislike us, but they also don’t want anything good to happen for us either, and will take part in activities designed to pull us down.

Because people like this exist, it’s important to stay close to God. He will let you know who is for you, who is against you and will protect you from any evil schemes. God promises to not let our enemies or frenemies have victory over us.

If you find yourself surrounded by frenemies, here are some Scriptures to meditate on whilst you make plans to drop them.

‘If you listen carefully to what (the angel) says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you.’ (Exodus 23:22)

‘When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way, He causes their enemies to make peace with them.’ (Proverbs 16:7)

‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ (Romans 12:20)

God has the final say

As this year comes to an end and a new one is about to begin, people set their goals and make their plans on what they would like to achieve. There are even some individuals, who, when setting out their aims, create elaborate graphs to plot the actions they need to undertake to reach their goals. On one hand this is a good thing to do. It makes sense to know the work involved in fulfilling one’s plans.

However, whatever plans we have for 2023, it’s worth remembering that God has His plans for us too. Proverbs 16:1 says: ‘We may make our plans, but God has the last word.’

So, my word for you is yes, make your plans and set your goals, but be mindful that God might intervene and set you off on a different path. Proverbs 16:9 makes this fact clear: ‘You may make your plans, but God directs your actions.’ 

God will always have the final say.

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