I’m amazed by the story of Lee McClelland, a pastor and a fellow Northern Irishman. He shares a story that is beyond me to imagine – stuck in hospital with coronavirus, a day away from having to be put on a ventilator. Those struck with coronavirus often talk about their ‘nightmare day,’ a day when all the symptoms feel like they’re running at 110%.
At the end of Lee’s nightmare day, one of the hospital’s cleaners dropped by his room, and stayed to talk and encourage him. Before he left, he prayed for Lee's condition to be completely healed. Lee reports that night as the pivot point when his symptoms suddenly, unexpectedly improved. By the next day, he was beginning to crave food again.
That’s fantastic on its own. Just knowing that God is at work even in a global pandemic, healing symptoms and moving in hospital rooms. But Lee then goes on to explain how he began to quietly pray for a packet of prawn cocktail crisps and a can of Coke. He was feeling silly about asking God for something so small, when that same cleaner walked into the room with a bag of two oranges, a packet of prawn cocktail crisps, and a can of Coke.
He (and I) so value the supernatural power of God to heal, but isn’t there something about that moment of generosity that moves you on a different level? The presence of God through a miracle delivery of favourite snacks.
Even if it feels beyond you to pray for the supernatural reversal of a global pandemic – anyone can send up a quick prayer for good snacks for a struggling friend. Some of us may spend Lent taking part in 40acts – an encouragement to be generous daily, but I’m convinced we don’t know how powerful this is: our attentive listening to God, paired with small generous gifts.
We can do something bigger than the sum of its parts, here. In the middle of a pandemic, when we put our tiny, tiny ideas of how to be kind (prawn cocktail crisps!) in front of God, His Spirit can breathe on them and make them land with serious impact for people who need it the most.
A lot of us are tired. We’re subconsciously battling a big global problem that we have no obvious ability to fight or flee from. It’s tempting to step back from our spiritual authority, too – the incredible power handed to us by Jesus in Matthew 10:1. But, wouldn’t it be amazing to look back to this time and say, ‘I felt the strain, and I still decided to turn my life outwards for the sake of other people. I still took up the call on the global church to be light. I took a step of faith to encourage my friends to be one closer to God.’
What if we heard the call again, right when many of us are in panic mode: the local church is the hope of the world.