Seventy-five years ago, on May 5, 1945, the occupation of the Netherlands was finally over. A great number of people had suffered terribly. Jewish friends and neighbours were taken away to extermination camps, the large majority of them never to come back. Many of the young men were forced to work in factories in Germany. People were not allowed to express their opinions publicly; they had to behave according to the mandate of the occupiers. Disobedience was in some cases fatal. On different occasions, many people, my parents included, gave refuge to persons who were sought by the occupiers. During the last winter of the war, 1944-1945, things were desperate; some 20,000 starved to death. Even in the semi-rural area where we lived, food was hard to come by. There was no electricity or running water, and the people wondered how much longer they could carry on. News was skimpy and unreliable. Public transportation was practically nonexistent. Those who wanted to worship — and there were many — walked for miles to attend church, and they prayed that it would soon be over. Then on May 5th, it was over — finally!
Since the middle of March, we have been in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Most of our thoughts and discussions have been on the situation in which we found ourselves. We could not do what we wanted to do; we felt like we were under occupation. For many, many weeks we have prayed for all who are involved, and we, too, prayed that it would soon be over, that there would be no more suffering and no more death, and that things would get back to normal — albeit a new normal.
Likewise, for 40 years, the people of Israel had endured hardships and had fought battles on their way to the Promised Land. They had buried their loved ones along the way. They had been rebellious at times. Their leaders, Moses and Aaron, had both died, and Joshua had taken over. I can see him standing on Mount Nebo, looking across to Jericho in the distance in the Promised Land that they were about to enter. Their days of wandering through the endless desert were over, finally! Then, the Lord spoke these wonderful words of encouragement to him:
Joshua 1:9 – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (NKJV)
There have always been — and there always will be — periods of time when people suffer because of sickness, the loss of a loved one, or a war. For all of us, it is a very heavy load to bear. During those times, the reassuring words which the Lord spoke to Joshua apply to all of us: "Be strong and of good courage."
Prayer: Our Father in heaven, there are so many times when we struggle, times when we are at our wits' end, when we don't know what to do. Humbly, each one of us brings our concerns to You in our own way, and we pray for Your guidance and comfort. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "Am I A Soldier Of The Cross" (Lyrics)