As the coronavirus pandemic hit in March 2020 and society closed down, many Christians sought to encourage one another by sharing Bible verses, hymns, and extracts from favourite authors. Fewer did so on a daily basis. But John Hooper continued this practice for more than three months, and the result is this collection of 104 readings.
The earlier entries largely comprise quotations from past worthies, with just a brief introduction and application. After a few weeks, the author finds his own voice and the content morphs into daily devotionals on a verse or short passage.
The material is thoughtful, thorough, and solidly grounded in Scripture; the style is clear and unfussy. The tone is gentle and the aim is to encourage troubled and lonely believers in the midst of an unprecedented crisis. There is due reflection on the state of the nation and the Lord’s purpose in chastising the church and individual believers, but the author avoids strident denunciations and steers clear of lockdown-related controversy.
Quotations come from the tried and tested stable of Reformed writers, with Calvin, Ryle, Spurgeon, and the Puritans featuring heavily and few quotations from the last hundred years.
I wish I’d received these emails day by day at the time. Given the circumstances, this is a superb achievement – a model for how to mine the Word of God for instruction and comfort in times of trial. There is an enormous amount for any believer to meditate on. It is not light reading, but at about three pages per day it is easy to manage.
This is a unique book reflecting a unique period. The contemporary references give a snapshot of a period many will prefer to forget. But if the context should limit this volume’s appeal, it would be a pity.