By The Reverend Canon Dr. Sharyn Hall
When you walk through a storm,
Hold your head up high and don’t be afraid of the dark.
At the end of the storm, there’s a golden sky,
And the sweet silver song of a lark.
Walk on through the wind,
Walk on through the rain,
Though your dreams be tossed and blown.
Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart,
And you’ll never walk alone.
You’ll never walk alone.
You may know this song which has been performed and recorded by many singers and choirs over the past 75 years. It was first sung in a Broadway musical, Carousel, in April, 1945, just months before World War II ended. The drama and lyrics of all the songs in Carousel were written by Oscar Hammerstein II and the music was composed by Richard Rodgers.
The song was written at a time when people were weary of years of brutal war. Many soldiers and civilians experienced terror, suffering and death. People away from the fighting lived with daily anxiety for their loved ones serving on the front lines. There were years of hardship through the war and after the war because of economic and social upheaval. The thought that you’ll never walk alone was a strong message to encourage people to work together, to look out for each other and to have hope that life would be better.
Over the years, this song has been sung by famous entertainers and opera stars and also spontaneously by crowds at football matches in England. During this pandemic, in some areas of the UK and Europe, it is sung in support of medical staff, first responders and those in quarantine. In April 2020, this song was sung to World War II veteran, Captain Tom Moore, during his fundraising walk back and forth in his yard. He completed 100 laps before his 100th birthday and raised over 32 million pounds for the National Health Service in Britain.
Today, millions of people in their suffering and sorrow turn to God for courage and consolation, but as the coronavirus multiplies, other people may feel abandoned by God and ask, ‘Where are you God?’ If you see God as an almighty judge, you might see this pandemic as proof of God’s power to punish as well as build up people. If you see God as a loving God who suffers with the broken and broken-hearted, you might see God giving us courage and strength to persevere through these difficult days.
The response of many people to this pandemic has shown us that God walks with us, works with us and through us for the benefit of God’s world: the tireless scientists who have developed vaccines months faster than expected, those who minister to the sick and dying, offering compassion to their families, those who minister to people struggling with mental illness, despair and isolation. We have an abundance of abilities, and God is supporting us as we all have roles to play in Christ’s mission of compassion for all God’s people.
As we hear in the words of the prophet Isaiah, “Comfort, O Comfort my people, says your God,” God was telling the troubled and distraught Hebrew people, ‘Take heart, I am with you!’ The Hebrew people needed to hear that message as they struggled to survive famine, disease, and wars. We need to hear that message today as our world seems overwhelmed by a relentless virus, devastating natural disasters, and economic upheaval. We need to hear God telling us that God is walking with us in our wilderness of uncertainty and anxiety.
We have learned again that we are all one body of humanity because every race, religion, and nation is threatened by the virus which causes COVID-19, but we can be sure that our loving God has not abandoned us in this pandemic. Millions of people are walking and working together with God’s help to bring comfort and healing and hope to all people. Walk on with hope in your heart. You are not alone.