FRIDAY, APRIL 6
Tests of true believers
Exodus 14:10-30, 15:20-21 – The test of faith for the impossible
Psalm 133 – The test of togetherness
John 20:19-31 – The test of believing without seeing
1 John 1:1-2:2 – The test of those who are walking in relationship with God
How ordinary Christians’ faith changed the course of history
The first passage, Monday, April 2 – Exodus 14:10ff, told how Moses and his large and at times opinionated and difficult group faced a test of faith in a situation that looked hopeless – although God had spoken previously, and given them a clear promise of passage to the Promised Land to hold on to.
The lesson about the power of unity (Ps. 133) also bears on this story; so does Thomas’s lesson, after he declared “Unless I see…” He followed the old adage that seeing is believing, but faith turns that on its head to say that believing, is seeing.
A generation or two ago the future of this country was in the praying hands of ordinary but true, believing Christians – the ones who were too young or too old to be called up for war service. And we can assume that the majority were women.
Like the Israelites at the Red Sea there was a pursuing army and a strategic stretch of water. This is about the two dramatic and otherwise inexplicable reversals that took place in 1940 following a national call to prayer.
May 1940 was a desperate time; the entire retreating British Army was trapped at Dunkirk. King George VI (who, like Moses, found public speaking difficult) called the nation to turn back to God in a spirit of repentance, and plead for Divine help.
On the day appointed by the King, which was Sunday May 26, the country responded. Millions of people flocked into churches. A memorable photograph of the time shows a long queue outside Westminster Abbey; church bells were rung and others filled churches across the UK, and also in the Commonwealth nations.
There were two immediate results: a violent storm arose over northern France, grounding the Luftwaffe which had been attacking the troops on the beaches. And then a flat calm, a calm that had not been seen for a generation, descended on the Channel, allowing hundreds of tiny pleasure boats to cross and enter the shallows to allow men to board. Rather than the anticipated 20-30,000 hoped for, 335,000 were rescued.
Another National Day of Prayer was called on Sunday, September 8, 1940, while the Battle of Britain was being fought out in the skies. RAF fighter command was close to being wiped out and its airfields destroyed; preparations for the invasion could be seen, looking across the channel from the Dover cliffs. Inexplicably the Luftwaffe suddenly switched tactics to bombing London, giving time for fighter squadrons to re-group and re-equip, and the invasion plans were finally abandoned.
True believers, acting together, can bring godly change, to the wonder of politicians.