Last week it was announced that Britain had become the first European country to officially reach the ‘sombre milestone’, as one newspaper put it, of more than 100,000 deaths. As tragic and sobering as these grim facts are, and not wishing to minimise or trivialise in any way the devastating effects of the pandemic on individuals, families and communities across the world, we must implore God to raise us above all that would drag us down, that he would strengthen our faith, hope and confidence in him, and ask this especially for those who feel their faith being tested and weakened.

There are always people and occasions to raise our spirits when we most need them. A week and a half ago at the inauguration of Joe Biden, the 46th US president, a young black woman, Amanda Gorman, who had become America’s first national youth poet laureate in 2017, recited her six-minute poem, The Hill We Climb. She did so radiating confidence and hope in a better and brighter future. She did it with a confident smile. In one sense the image of climbing a hill may not be helpful bearing in mind that many of us are stuck in-doors and going nowhere; but in another sense the upward struggle, the punishing climb against the odds, with little respite along the way and our destination still some way off, is apt because many of us are weary, even despondent of this journey we are on at the present. But the title of the poem reminds us that none of us is alone, we climb the hill together. If this pandemic has taught us anything it is how much we need to support one another with the love, the kindness and the gift of prayer God has given us. I often receive text messages and emails of support from people quoting the scriptures, expressing positive thoughts and ideas and occasionally accompanied by beautiful pictures. The effect is a positive one, I feel part of something, a caring and supportive network.