Praying in troubled times (2) 'Thank you!'

© photo by Louise Adey Huish
Published by Louise Adey Huish on Thu, 26 Mar 2020 00:00
Louise's blog

Being able to say ‘Thank you’ is an essential part of our mental health – as well as making us nicer people! Guidelines from the charity Mind, published to help us through the coronavirus crisis, suggest that finding things to say thank you for each day can improve our mood and our ability to cope no end.

During the time I worked as a hospital chaplain, I had a patient who was really struggling with low mood and a sense of hopelessness. I suggested to her that she might keep a notebook and at the end of each day try to write down one thing she had felt grateful for during the day. To my amazement it was a more powerful medicine than I could ever have imagined. It was a struggle to start with; but then she progressed from one thing each day to three; and finished by telling me that from the moment she woke up in the morning she was on the look-out for things to feel thankful about.

Despite the present crisis there are plenty of things we can feel grateful for, especially with the onset of spring, and new life all around us. The newfound warmth of the sun, the changing skies, the sound of birdsong – even the fact that it is lighter for longer as we pass the spring equinox! Many of us are still able to go out for a walk, and walking mindfully helps us to focus on the everyday miracles we so often take for granted.

And despite the shortages in the shops and the anxious greed displayed by some, there are so many people - particularly younger ones – who are keen to do all they can to help, and have volunteered to fetch shopping and medicines for people who are housebound. Family and friends are finding new ways to stay in touch, and there is an increased level of concern apparent for acquaintances and neighbours.

I was particularly heartened by the news that in Spain, Italy and India, quarantined citizens came to their windows to shout, sing and cheer for their healthcare workers. It is so important to be able to say thank you to those who help us; but just as important to say thank you to God for all the signs of hope in the world around us. Here again the Psalms can be a helpful guide: even the psalms that begin with desolation or reproach usually end in praise and thanksgiving. Which suggests that once those negative feelings have been expressed, we are able to re-connect with the God who gives us life. The last psalms in particular are full of joyous gratitude (try reading Psalm 148 out loud) and remind us how good it is to sing. So if you are alone, take advantage of the opportunity to sing along to your favourite hymns, songs or musicals, and make a joyful noise to the Lord!

Psalm 138

I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise;

I bow down towards your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness; for you have exalted your name and your word above everything. 

On the day I called, you answered me, you increased my strength of soul.

All the kings of the earth shall praise you, O Lord, for they have heard the words of your mouth. 

They shall sing of the ways of the Lord, for great is the glory of the Lord. 

For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly; but the haughty he perceives from far away.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve me against the wrath of my enemies; you stretch out your hand, and your right hand delivers me. 

The Lord will fulfil his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures for ever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

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