Thoughts for Saturday 23rd January 2021

Psalm 62:5-12; Jeremiah 20:14-18; Luke 10:13-16

Ask somebody who doesn’t know the Bible, except by its reputation, to read our passage today from Jeremiah and I think they might be surprised. It’s just not the sort of positivity they might have thought they’d find. Indeed, it’s incredibly negative. But, although it is extreme, it’s not atypical. The Biblical book that follows Jeremiah is called LAMENTATIONS, and it’s a continuation of Jeremiah, a sort of sequel to it. Elsewhere, just for example, the Book of Job is somewhere where these sorts of passages can be found. And there’s much that’s in the same vein in the Book of Psalms as well.

And one of the really good reasons why we find such extreme expressions of woe in the Bible, I think, is because what that then does is to reassure those people who can feel as bleak as this at times that it’s actually part and parcel of the human experience; that, while we all want good mental health, there are times when it can be compromised.

Even before Covid-19, as chaplains in the High School, my colleagues and myself have been being asked for a number of years now to participate in initiatives such as ‘Mental Health Awareness Week’. And I remember one of them coming up with a banner that read:

IT’S OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY

He didn’t claim that it was original, and we didn’t actually use it, but it certainly got me thinking: Is it okay to not be okay? The Bible records seven suicides (Abimelech, Samson, Saul, Saul's armour-bearer, Ahithophel, Zimri and Judas). In 2019, 833 people in Scotland were lost to suicide. Suspicions are that the 2020 figures when they are published are likely to be even higher. Surely that’s not okay at all.

The point of a banner such as the one Fergus proposed, though, was to help everyone within the school community know – students and staff alike – as the Bible does as well, that people can and do feel ‘rubbish’ at times, but that there are always ways by which our mental health can then be improved.

And just one of the really inspiring stories of a 20th century Church initiative that has tackled the issue so extremely well over the years, is that of Rev Chad Varah who, after he was asked to take the funeral of a 14 year old girl who had taken her own life, set up a crisis hot-line in the crypt of the church where he was the vicar. It was called Samaritans.

Let us pray: (using a prayer posted on the Grace Cathedral website where a range of other helpful prayer resources can also be found:  https://gracecathedral.org/prayers-difficult-times/)

For One Suffering from Mental Distress

Blessed Jesus, in the comfort of your love, I lay before you the memories that haunt me, the anxieties that perplex me, the despair that frightens me, and my frustration at my inability to think clearly. Help me to discover your forgiveness in my memories and know your peace in my distress. Touch me, O Lord, and fill me with your light and your hope. Amen.

 


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Page last updated: 23rd January 2021 9:58 AM