I can’t have been the only person who was surprised by the appearance of the Prime Minister on Thursday night when he stood on the steps of 10 Downing Street to applaud the NHS. He looked really ill. Nevertheless, I was shocked to hear last night that he has been transferred to intensive care.
So how should we react as Christians. Firstly, we have to pray. Scripture commands us to pray for our leaders (and it doesn’t ask us about our politics in the process) and we should do so.
Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.1 Tim. 2:2
We should certainly be praying for the Prime minister at the moment, whatever our views of his character or policies. We desperately need good and effective government at the moment if the country is to avoid the worst effects of this virus. Pray, too, for Dominic Raab and the others leading the fight against coronavirus.
As well as praying for the Prime minister, it would be good to pray for Boris Johnson, too. In the end, he’s just a man, but a man with a very stressful job and a pregnant girlfriend who is also suffering from coronavirus. In this, he isn’t much different to thousands of others around the country and we should be praying for them, too, even if we don’t know their names or see them on TV every day.
This last point should cause us to reflect. For the moment, the man who won a huge parliamentary majority mere months ago is just another patient in ICU, as needy as anyone else. The trappings of ambition and power are no help against an unimaginably small packet of protein and RNA. I am the child of amazing privilege; I’ve never had to go to war and plagues, earthquakes and tsunamis are things that happen to other people. I belong to a generation that has become accustomed to comfort and who could brush suffering and death under the carpet as things that we don’t need to think about. However, if even the Prime Minister can be struck down during a viral pandemic then we can no longer afford to imagine that we are safe within the cocoon of being an advanced, scientific democracy.
The thing is, those of us who live in the Western world, Christians as well as those who are not Christians have allowed ourselves to place our faith and our confidence in science and our political system. Health, wealth and peace come from a well-ordered society. We’ve, all too often, left God out of the picture, because, frankly, we didn’t need him.
However, we can no longer think of the world, ourselves and our security in the way that we used to. The props that supported our comfort have been kicked away.
As a Christian, I believe that we are living in a creation which is groaning in pain as it waits to be restored through the death of Christ on the cross. I am absolutely convinced that there is light at the end of the tunnel, but I’ve no idea how long or dark the tunnel itself will be. I also believe that I need to place my hope in the eventual return of Christ, not in the discovery of a vaccine for coronavirus (though that will be very, very welcome). This involves a disciplined reorientation of my thinking. I’ve allowed myself to be swayed by the siren call of seventy-years of peace and prosperity in the West – but the last month have shown that this was nothing but a false promise.
Where is your trust?
Meanwhile, pray for Boris, and while you are on, pray for the others in Intensive Care and those looking after them.