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COVID-19 MCO DEVOTIONALS

What Price Human Life?
“I Can't Breathe”
CTRL-Z
Praise the Lord, O My Soul
The Blood of Jesus
You'll Never Walk Alone
How Changed Are We?
A Sunday Morning's Meditation on Psalm 24

 

YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE
(Sunday, 3 May 2020)
by Ong Kok Bin

 

I am a staunch fan of Liverpool FC. They were not my first team though. Derby and Spurs were, all because the two teams wore white in those days and white was my favourite colour (and still is). But somewhere down the timeline, Liverpool caught my attention and imagination and I have followed them since; even though they wear red. But why the talk on Liverpool? Answer: “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.

“You’ll Never Walk Alone” is the official motto and the song of the same title the iconic anthem of Liverpool. It is sung in every Liverpool game since it was first adopted by the club and sung in the May 1965 FA Cup Final. However, it was not written especially for Liverpool. The song was a Rodgers and Hammerstein composition for the stage musical Carousel performed in 1945 in the US. In the musical, the song was sung to comfort the lead character Julie Jordan, who had lost her husband who fell on his own knife in a botched robbery attempt.

In the ongoing covid-19 pandemic, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” has been performed by various groups in the UK and Europe to encourage and salute the frontliners as well as those in quarantine.

The first line of the song envisaged a storm. In subsequent lines, the storm is word-pictured as ‘dark’, ‘wind’, ‘rain’, ‘tossed and blown’. But the song does not dwell on the storm. Instead, it is filled with words of encouragement like “Hold your head up high”, “Don’t be afraid”, “There’s a golden sky”, “And the sweet silver song of a lark”. But perhaps the song is best loved for its closing refrain:
     Walk on, walk on
     With hope in your heart
     And you'll never walk alone
     You’ll never walk alone
which is repeated; but with a high-crescendo ending of “You’ll ne --- ver walk alone”.

There is a Christian hymn which has this ‘alone’ theme also. It was written by Thomas Mosie Lister, a Baptist minister, in 1955. The first stanza of the hymn “Where No One Stands Alone” reads:
     Once I stood in the night with my head bowed low,
     In the darkness as black as could be;
     And my heart felt alone and I cried,
     “O Lord, Don’t hide Your face from me.”

The refrain calls out to the Lord:
     Hold my hand all the way,
     Ev’ry hour, ev’ry day,
     From here to the great unknown.
     Take my hand; Let me stand
     Where no one stands alone.

Three years later, Mosie Lister was to write another hymn with the same ‘dark-night’ and ‘storm’ theme. The hymn is titled “’Til the Storm Passes By”:
     In the dark of the mid-night I have oft hid my face,
     While the storm howls above me, and there’s no hiding place.
     ’Mid the crash of the thunder, precious Lord, hear my cry;
     Keep me safe ’til the storm passes by.

     Many times Satan whispered, “There is no need to try,
     For there’s no end to sorrow, there’s no hope by and by.”
     But I know Thou art with me, and tomorrow I’ll rise
     Where the storms never darken the skies.

     When the long night has ended and the storms come no more,
     Let me stand in Thy presence on that bright peaceful shore.
     In that land where the tempest never comes. Lord, may I
     Dwell with Thee when the storm passes by.

What prompted Mosie Lister to write these ‘alone’ and ‘dark-night-storm’ hymns is not known to me. Did he have a crisis? Was he afraid of something dark? Was he surrounded by temptations he could not endure? Was he severely ill and the thought of death was hanging on his head? But perhaps, not his own life; but someone dear to him who was at death’s throes.

In moments such as these, we need to have hope, assurance and encouragement. We need someone to hold our hand all the way. We need to know “when the long night has ended” there is a “bright peaceful shore” awaiting us. We need to know that we are not alone.

Elijah felt alone in his faith-keeping with God and he was despondently afraid: “I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” But the Lord in a whisper to Elijah told him he was not alone for there were seven thousand other Israelites whose “knees have not bowed down to Baal” (see 1 Kings 19:1-18).

Moses gave this word of encouragement to Joshua as he prepared to pass the leadership mantle to the younger man: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them [the Canaanites], for the Lord your God goes with you, he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). “You’ll never walk alone”, was what Moses effectively told Joshua.

When Paul was evangelizing in Corinth, he was abused by certain Jews who opposed his preaching. But the Lord Jesus appeared to him in a night vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:9-10). “You are not alone, Paul!”

The “I am with you” pledge is given not only to the apostle Paul. It was promised too to the other apostles. As Jesus commissioned his eleven disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations”, he assured them also: “And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:16-20). “To the very end of the age” assures us that Jesus will always be with us too. Moreover, he had also promised, “For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them” (Matthew 18:20).

Dark night? Tossed and blown? Storm? Rain? Wind? No hiding place? Alone?
No fear: “The Lord your God goes with you, he will never leave you nor forsake you”.
You are not alone: “I am with you,” says the Lord Jesus.
And so:
     Walk on, walk on
     With hope in your heart
     And you’ll never walk alone
     YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE! Because the Lord Jesus Christ is with you always!

 

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