The Queen’s Christian faith has been a source of strength over her incredible 70-year reign
It was a great privilege to honour our extraordinary Queen in the Lords on Thursday 26 May and to dwell on how important her Christian faith has been to her – and by extension to us.
What has enabled our Queen to be so consistent and gracious to all her subjects over these 70 years? Her continuous confession of trust and reliance on Jesus her saviour, and God her father have made that constant sense of duty possible.
During her first Christmas broadcast in 1952, she acknowledged she would not have the strength to serve unceasingly without the prayer of “the people of the Commonwealth and Empire”. On her 90th birthday, she expressed sincere gratitude for those prayers and “to God for his steadfast love. I have indeed seen his faithfulness.”
She is right – millions of Christians have faithfully prayed for her to live long, for her Kingdom to be at peace and for the common good.
Her Christmas messages have all been about responding to the example of Jesus – who came to serve and not to be served, to give his life as a ransom for many. No one can deny that she has embodied that servant ethos.
To live successfully in the public eye for 70 years has required a very strong sense of identity
At key moments she has also referred to drawing strength from God – which comes from her daily walk with him.
As a 13-year-old, she passed on the poem that became part of her father’s most well-known and important Christmas broadcast in December 1939.
Then, like now, the world was on the brink of cataclysm and the message of Minnie Louise Haskins’ poem is strikingly fresh today: “And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied: ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.’ So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.”
But such strengthening is not just needed in extremis – it must be constantly drawn upon by people like the Queen, who are ceaselessly required to put others’ needs ahead of their own and take others with them on a difficult journey.
To live successfully in the public eye for 70 years and necessarily, to maintain legitimacy in the public affection, has required a very strong sense of identity. The received wisdom is that identity should be something entirely self-made but for the Queen, her identity, what she is and was able to be, has always derived from her royal responsibilities, sense of duty and, in common with all Christians, from her relationship with Jesus.
The New Testament urges that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for kings and all those in authority. I want to thank God for answering these prayers for Her Majesty so spectacularly. No other figure has done what she has: she is the Queen of the world – known and revered by so many in so many different lands.
Yet she would be the first to give credit to the King of Kings whom she serves, to acknowledge that the esteem in which she is held is further evidence of the undeserved grace she has been able to draw on, lean on every day of her life.
We never want to lose her, but the day will surely come when she passes through the veil into eternity and stands before her King. Then he will say: “Well done, good and faithful servant! Come and share your master’s joy!”
Lord Farmer is a Conservative peer.
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