As I write, the nation waits nervously for the latest announcements on tackling the virus. There is a very real tension as the government tries to find the almost impossible balance between health and economics. News websites anticipate every statement, radio shows interview those whose livelihoods will be affected, and I quietly, sadly accept that we will not be able to be with our family this half term as we were hoping.
These are challenging and serious times for all of us.
But I am finding that I have to be careful about how the constant exposure to the cycle of news and social media can impact on my own mental health.
I have realised over the past few months, that it’s much better to spend time thinking about the things that I can change (work, projects, family, hobbies, exercise etc), rather than dwelling on that which I have no control over. This is standard psychological advice for maintaining a positive mental attitude – it’s important, and generally it works well.
On top of that, I try, at some point each day, to lift my mind beyond the here and now, and focus my thoughts on God.
Some people call this prayer, and according to data from google, significantly more people than ever before are turning to prayer in the midst of this pandemic.
I have had to work hard to keep a big-picture, heavenly perspective on all that’s going on. Among other bible passages, these verses from Psalm 121 are helpful and encouraging;-
I lift up my eyes to the mountains. where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
It’s possible to read this psalm in one way, seeing the problems around us as mountains which seem very overwhelming and hard to conquer. Another reading though reminds us that we can look to the majesty and grandeur of the mountains, remembering their creator, and tapping into his perspective as we face our challenges with his help.
Churches of all traditions are continuing to respond to these times by helping people connect with God through a creative mix of in-person and online services. Ministers are working hard to facilitate these gatherings, and many of them share my concern for the young people in our communities. At Winchester Vineyard Church we recently held an event I could never have imagined until this year; a drive-thru style family service in the car park so our children could start to ‘come back to church’.
Whatever mountains we are facing today, there’s always another perspective to fix our eyes on, and help is always available.
First Published 15 October 2020 – Christian Comment, Hampshire Chronicle
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