All week, I’ve seen event suggestions pop up in my Facebook feed: a march here, a protest there. All with one message: Zuma must go. I’ve thought about attending one of them. One has just been arranged in my town – a march from a local park to the library. There’s an almost palpable sense of something about to happen. There’s a sense that we’re on the eve of an historic moment.
I’m not going to march, though.
Here’s the thing: I don’t trust the police to provide adequate safety – South Africa does not have a good record of peaceful protests, let’s be honest. And before I get the “Do it for your children!” response, my reasons for not marching include my children. Whatever happens on Friday, my children will need their mother around afterwards. I hope the marches are succesful and peaceful. I hope Zuma concedes to the country’s wishes and resigns.
But if things turn out differently, I need to be here to guide my children through it. I need to be here to encourage them when they may feel there is no hope. I need to be here to explain that while God sometimes allows hardships and suffering, ultimately He is still on heaven’s throne and He is still in control. (Fun fact: we’re studying the book of Job in our devotions right now. It’s encouraging to see how Job is steadfast in his faith, in his praise and worship, despite his life falling to pieces around him. It’s lead to interesting conversations about why bad things happen to good people.)
So, no, I will not be marching on Friday.
I choose, instead, to fight this battle on my knees. As Christians, we are supposed to pray for our country’s leadership.
“First of all, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” 1 Timothy 2:1-2 ESV
I have been feeling deeply burdened to pray for my country lately, even more than usual. On Monday, I set my alarm for every hour from 7am to 7pm. When I heard it go off, I paused whatever I was doing and prayed whatever was on my heart at that particular moment. Every morning this week, I have prayed for South Africa in our devotions before school.
Tomorrow, I will be praying too. Every hour, for five minutes, I will intercede for South Africa, for our leaders, for our people. I will encourage my children to pray as well. I will talk about why we need to pray, about the things that are happening in our land. I will remind my children that God hears us when we pray, and that we can still hope in Him even if He is slow to answer. Easter is a week away, and so I continue to point my children to the cross.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:10-12 ESV
I believe absolutely that there is a spiritual connection to what happens in the physical world. I believe that there are unseen forces at play, and it is the duty of the Christian to be praying. Our prayers matter, and we’re fooling ourselves if we think they don’t.
If you have been on the fence about what to do tomorrow, or if you have been wondering what kind of things to pray for, please feel free to use any of the following ideas as you are lead. I encourage you to set aside five minutes each hour, wherever you are.
Pray for the organisers of the protest marches. Pray that they will show unity and that party politics will not get in the way of what they aim to achieve.
Pray for the safety of those taking part in the marches. Pray that the police will show restraint. Pray that those parties opposed to the protest will not resort to violence in order to disrupt them.
Pray that President Zuma will heed the call to resign without any further delay. Pray that he will put the needs of the country first.
Pray that God will raise up God-fearing people to positions of influence and power, people who have integrity and a desire to put the good of the country ahead of their own enrichment. Pray for calm and order in the various parties and in Parliament.
Pray for the economy. Pray that despite the downgrade to junk status, the economy will recover quickly and with minimum damage. Pray that those who are struggling financially will have their needs met. Pray that we will not see a rise in crime as a result of job losses.
Pray for unity as a country. Pray that God will heal the wounds of the past, that we will move forward from the things that divide us and work together. Pray that we will look for what we have in common rather than our differences.
Pray for the church. Pray that we can be a beacon of hope and light in these dark times. Pray that we will be sensitive to God’s leading in how and where we can serve. Pray that those who are seeking for meaning will turn to Jesus and find hope and light in Him.
Whatever happens on Friday, in the future, we can rest in the knowledge that it is only temporary. “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:20 ESV)
Whatever happens, may we be like Job, with a faith that can say, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21 ESV)