Daily Devotion 20 January 2021

Create a peaceful space to pause, and allow yourself to feel God’s presence alongside you, as near to you as your own breath. In following the reflection below, as a church we will draw closer to God and to one another as we grow in faith and deepen our sense of belonging to God.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2021: Nahum 1: 3,7
3 The LORD is slow to anger
but great in power;
the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished.
His way is in the whirlwind and the storm,
and clouds are the dust of his feet.
7 The LORD is good,
a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him.

Probably written in Jerusalem around 700BC, the book of Nahum is the 7th of twelve books minor prophets in the Hebrew Bible. Nahum mainly details the fall of Nineveh – and the prophet leaves you in no doubt over God’s feeling for Nineveh, a city of evil – just read the first verse above! We are told that even though God is slow to anger, when he’s fully roused to anger, he is a terrible and powerful God. No one who is guilty will escape God’s punishment. We’re not just reading about a particular type of guilt; all those guilty in the eyes of God will be punished. I think it’s fair to interpret 1:3 as ‘God will put up with a lot…but once he’s had enough, you’re in deep trouble’.

My second verse above, however, may only be a few lines from the first, but is very different in tone. Whereas before we were hearing about God as this incredibly powerful destroyer of the guilty, a force of nature that could sweep all away, here we read that God is still good, and a place of safety and rest in worrying times; God is someone that will care for his followers.

The immediate parallels that I drew when reading this chapter was of many things in our world being swept away. Many of us have had to stop commuting to work in environmentally unclean forms of transport, such as cars and trains. Many of us have had to recycle more of our waste products so that we have enough space in the bin at the end of each week. Many of us have stopped taking our freedoms for granted, as we find ourselves only using that freedom when absolutely necessary. There are many of us looking upon God’s world with renewed appreciation and love. There is more communication in our world at the moment, despite there being less face-to-face discussion. We are remembering old friends we’ve not spoken to and making contact again; we are making new friends and supporting each other through some of the loneliness and hardships of repeated lockdowns. We are, more and more, little by little, stepping away from some of the restrictive routines and traditions of our pasts and embracing the way the world is now. As Christians we have managed to stay worshiping in God’s name, we’ve managed to maintain our love for Jesus, and many of us have met new brothers and sisters tentatively trying to forge a brand-new relationship with God by doing so.

That reminder in 1:7 is always there and a constant reminder though: God will always look after us, always love us, and always be a safe space for us in times of trouble. Our bad habits are being swept away by the whirlwind and the storm, and our love for God is keeping us sheltered while we try and learn how to be Christian in this new world.

Prayer:

Almighty Lord, may we recognize your power in our world today:
Your justice and peace that overturns hatred, violence, and oppression.
Your warmth and tenderness that brings relief to people in great need.
Grant us the knowledge that you are always at work, and enable us to trust in you. Amen.

Reflection © 2021 Dayve Walshe
Prayer © 2021 Paul Tabraham.
Images freely available online.

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