Cleland Thom describes how God can look after us during troubled times.
OK, I admit it. I'm a caffeine addict.
And things got bad one day when I was frantic for a coffee fix at work.
I'd left my wallet at home, so I couldn't buy one. And I was alone in the office, so I couldn't borrow any money.
In desperation, I prayed. As you do. 'Lord God,' I said. 'Please give me a cup of coffee.'
A minute later, a colleague walked in, and put a sachet of coffee, two mini cartons of milk and a sachet of sugar on my desk.
'Have these,' he said. 'I bought a coffee on the train but didn't have time to drink it.'
But that's what God is like. He cares for us, like a shepherd with a flock of sheep.
Most of us have heard the words, 'The Lord is my shepherd', without reflecting on their meaning.
Shepherds keep their sheep safe and fed. And watered, with coffee if necessary.
I've lost count of the times when God has miraculously shown up like that.
A few years ago, I was going through a dark and lonely time, and needed a friend.
One evening, I flew to Southampton after working in Liverpool and booked a cab back home.
The cab arrived . and the driver was an old friend. We hadn't seen each other for 35 years. That was when we both lived in London.
Since then, we'd both moved to the south coast and lived just a few miles apart.
What were the chances of that happening?
The Lord was my shepherd. My mate and his wife were there for me over the next few months.
God cares for us in practical ways. Even during lockdown. Even when we're worried that we've caught COVID-19. Especially when friends and family are taken to hospital or die there.
The bible gives many examples of God caring for people, even in direst circumstances.
There was a prophet called Elijah who self-isolated, suffering from exhaustion and depression. God miraculously provided some rest and some food.
Another prophet named Jonah was in a foul mood and quarantined himself.
But God provided a shrub to shelter him from the scorching sun, and even fast-tracked its growth.
Joseph and Mary and their baby Jesus were in danger, so God told them in a dream to escape to Egypt.
Father God has used the coronavirus outbreak to give us opportunities to care for one another.
And he will care for us too if we give him the chance.
The bible also promises: 'I am your God and will take care of you until you are old, and your hair is grey.
'I made you and will care for you; I will give you help and rescue you.'
Wow. What an offer. But there's a catch. If you want God to be your
shepherd, you must sign up as a sheep.
He doesn't force you. But you won't find a better shepherd, whether you need caffeine, a friend, or someone to keep an eye on you during these difficult times.