Church of England Diocese of Leicester Burbage with Aston Flamville

Thought for the day

30 Mar 2020, 11:15 a.m.

Thought for the day 30th march

Last Thursday night I joined the thousands of people throughout the country who clapped for our wonderful NHS. For the first time ever I opened my front windows and turned my radio up as loud as I could, so the sound carried through the two speakers into the road outside. Under normal circumstances I could have been accused of being a public nuisance, but these are not normal times. It was very moving, but what moved me even more was the lady who lives across the road. In the 41 years that I have lived in my bungalow, I’ve probably only had occasion to speak to her and her husband a couple of times, but that night she came across and spoke to me from a distance, saying if I needed anything, just ask.

I was born at the tail end of the last war, between VE and VJ Days. My parents owned a grocery business, and I well remember Mum and Dad telling me what a wonderful community spirit there was during those 6 terrible years. That same community spirit came across the road and spoke to me last night.

Why expect more cooperation and compassion in the face of an epidemic? Because, contrary to popular belief, crises often tends to bring out the best in people. I read that during the September 11th Twin Tower attacks people bent over backwards to help others escape, sometimes at great personal risk to themselves. Often in the aftermath of natural disasters strangers will stick out their necks for each other to help.

While it’s true that sometimes disasters can lead to a minority taking advantage of the situation—for example, some small shops profiteering when certain goods are in short supply—this is not a common response, much as it grabs headlines. Instead, when we face a common enemy, like an epidemic, we are more likely to pull together for the benefit of everyone.

Notice how many young and healthy people are taking seriously the need to wash their hands frequently, cover their mouths when they cough, stay home when sick. Obviously none of us want to be ill, but no one is exempt from falling foul of this virus, and equally, no one wants to be responsible for making others sick.

In fact, it may simply be human nature to be kind and helpful when others need us. There will always be heroic efforts in a disaster—people who sacrifice themselves for the good of others. Think of the health care workers who are treating people infected with this virus at great personal risk. Or those infected with the virus who voluntarily isolate themselves for weeks to protect the public.

When we hear stories of these people, we experience a warm feeling inside that inspires us, fuelling optimism and a desire to act unselfishly ourselves. While the temptation might be to focus on fear and everything going wrong, we can redirect our attention to those who are doing the right thing, which will lead us to be better people ourselves.

I find the words of Philippians 4 verse 6 to be a great comfort.

“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I also found these verses in the Psalms, which I would like to share with you:

Weeping may go on all night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.

So we will not fear, even if earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Psalm 46:1-3

The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. Psalm 100:13

Carol Hope