Lockdown to Knockdown

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“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

(Matthew 6:25–34)

“Lockdown.” Overnight this has become a household word for every South African. What had been rumoured last week was announced last night as reality. Our president, in a necessary “wartime stance,” announced that, from midnight this Thursday through the following 21 days, we will be confined to our homes. Except for essential services such as hospitals, electricity support, grocery stores, petrol stations, etc., no businesses will be allowed to be open. (This is in addition to all schools, which have already been closed.) For all practical purposes, we will be home-bound for the next three weeks. This lockdown is for the purpose of knocking down the coronavirus—flattening the infection curve.

This lockdown is troubling for all of us, and catastrophic for many. Many are anxious over what their tomorrows will look like. For most, this anxiety concerns finances. Many have reserves that they can fall back on while others live day to day. How will day labourers survive? What about people with bonds and rents that are already a challenge to pay? Many small business owners are worried that nearly a month without work will ruin them. These are very real concerns. How, Christian, should we face this lockdown?

Brothers and sisters, one outcome of this lockdown is the knocking down of our idols of self-sufficiency. It is also an opportunity for us to be brought down to our knees and to worship our one true God. If this comes about, then this lockdown will not knock us down. Rather, it will be a means of building us up in our most holy faith (see Jude 20).

As we saw this past Sunday, when Jesus exhorted the disciples to not be anxious, he reminded them of their Father’s care for them (Matthew 6:25–34). But Jesus knew that, at a certain level, they were not buying it and so he lovingly rebuked them: “O you of little faith” (v. 30). I can relate to this. I too am guilty of self-sufficiency. But I want my faith to grow. I want to have “big faith.” Don’t you? Well, now our Father has provided us with a concrete opportunity to really trust him. We have the opportunity to learn that God can be trusted. We can learn that having him as our Father is enough. We have been brought down by this lockdown in order for us to get down on our knees and refuse to be knocked down in our confidence in the gospel. God spared not his own Son in order to save us. This gives us confidence of his care, especially in times like this (Romans 8:32).

Brothers and sisters, we are in for a rough and tough ride. But none of this has taken God by surprise. Let us look to him, and—please—let us pray for one another that we will all look to him as never before. Let us pray that we will all be properly brought down so as to look up and to love and trust our heavenly Father. This lockdown may rightly knock us down, but it need not knock us out. Let us keep fighting the good fight of faith (2 Timothy 4:7).

Praying for you all,

Doug