Yesterday evening, after hearing that gyms were to be closed as another measure to restrict the spread of the virus, Anna and I called into the gym we have been members of for a number of years. We said an emotional goodbye to our friend at the reception desk and the lady working with her. We prayed for them as they both expect to lose their jobs. She said she loved us as she and Anna swapped numbers. We hugged our super-hench kettlebell HIIT instructor who had no clue what he would be doing from now on. He was worried about losing all his muscle gains!

Earlier, I had spoken to the lady in the Tesco Metro, who was exhausted because she and her colleague in the store had been working flat-out on the tills since six am without breaks, to keep up with demand. Outside a Council worker emptying the rubbish bin told me that he had been able to buy toilet rolls in the little shop near the railway station for the normal price. (Seen for £20.00 for a pack of four on eBay.) I made a point of individually thanking the Tesco lady and the Council man; “The government may not stand up and thank you personally, but on behalf of our town, I thank you for all you do”. In an instant, each of them visibly brightened as I said those easy small words. The Tesco lady straightened a little and smiled.

Under siege

ASDA looked as if a closing down sale was underway, with empty shelves, (virtually no meat) as shoppers prepare for the siege. My friend Vicky is a professional Football Coach, but is driving a delivery van for a supermarket st the moment. She posted on Facebook:

In one shift I’ve gone from a woman crying on her doorstep because of the worry around her husbands lung condition & standing a metre away from her desperate to give her a hug. To a 4 year old who “doesn’t mind staying in because daddies diabetic & going to the soft play area makes mummy worry”, “so she made this card to thank the person who brings the food to her family”. In a world where you can be anything, don’t be the person who moans that they’ve got a bar of soap instead of shower gel #BeKind

That’s a good word, right there! Well done Vicky, well done gym staff, well done Tesco lady and Council man. Well done everyone whose job means keeping going so that we can eat something, or wipe our bottoms, or so that we can go to work in our “key worker” job, knowing our children can go to school and continue to be safe because a teacher is working in their Easter holiday. Well done all the brave people who are self-isolating to keep the deadly pestilence which is stalking our streets at bay. Well done to the government scientists, doctors and politicians who are risking their lives and reputations to guide our nation through uncharted waters. Well done too, all the family of God; the ones who know how to pray and are doing it, rather than moaning over the absence of shower gel, or toilet roll.

The smiling face of Jesus

Let’s not just pray for our convenience to return, let’s pray for the servants who serve us. Let’s pray for the undertakers who have to enter the home of a deceased victim of the virus in order to give them the dignity of a burial. Let’s pray for the parents who have just lost their job and now have to self-isolate with children who are difficult at the best of times. Let’s pray for those couples who have had to cancel their weddings, after months of preparation and expense.

Let’s pray for our nation to find the smiling face of Jesus in this most challenging time. Let’s pray for the church to shine like never before. Be practical, drop some food off to someone who hasn’t asked for help. give away your last toilet roll… Let’s be the answer to someone else’s prayer.