Thought for the Week: 4th April 2021
Our thought this Sunday is by Steve Langton
Our society is sometimes very proud of the way it is doing things so much better than past generations – perhaps this has always been the case, and I expect, for example, our forebears in the 19th Century were very proud of the way they treated the poor in the new workhouses. Just as the next generation had to cure the faults of the workhouse system, we should always be mindful that our own society’s innovations may generate their own problems, and consider whether past approaches might have had more merit than the innovators might suggest.
One of the things we are particularly proud about today is the new openness about mental health. There is of course much to commend about this, but before getting too carried away with self praise, we should perhaps reflect on how well things are working. Suicide rates remain stubbornly high amongst all ages, but particularly the young. Self-harm seems to be at epidemic levels amongst even young children, and so many with mental health issues struggle to obtain the help and support they need. And even amongst those who would not describe themselves as having mental health issues, many feel tired or stressed as a result of the demands of work and family.
So, whilst our awareness of mental health issues may be improving, our society does not have all the answers. We should therefore remember that we are not in this alone; we believe in a loving heavenly father who cares for us and will take our burdens from us if we let Him. That is not to say that our faith can give us immunity from either mental health issues or the more everyday stresses. Christians will still need the skill of doctors and therapists, as well as the support of friends to get through difficult times. Nevertheless, we can take comfort from God’s healing protection.
This message is particularly apposite at Easter. We remember Peter’s words last week; a week is a long time in religion, as well as politics. In Easter week Jesus went from the high of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, to the lows of his betrayal, trial and crucifixion. He went through the very worst of deaths, but came through it to rise again on that glorious Easter morning. He has experienced what it is to be human, not just in that Easter week, but in the thirty years that came before; and not just the big events that we know about from the gospels, but in the everyday ups and downs of life. He will have had off days, times when His work went wrong, times when he just couldn’t find the tool He needed for that vital bit of carpentry, days of teenage angst, times of illness, the pain of bereavement. He has experienced all these things that define our humanity, and he can help us to weather them.
So let us remember that whilst we need more doctors and therapists to help our society navigate this stressful world, what is needed even more is for people to heed the message of Easter and to feel the power of God’s transforming love in their lives.