Praying in troubled times (3) 'Sorry!'

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

‘New every morning is the love

Our wakening and uprising prove,

Through sleep and darkness safely brought,

Restored to life and power and thought.’  (John Keble)

 

Difficult times can bring out the best in us; but they can also bring out the worst. Faced with danger (however remote) our fight-or-flight mechanism comes into play, and we can find ourselves either become aggressive and short-tempered, or else withdrawn and apathetic. I think it’s inevitable that during this period of ‘lockdown’ and anxiety we are going to be more than usually under pressure. Those of us who live on our own may find that we brood more than usual on our fear or sense of inadequacy; or perhaps on perceived slights and injustices. Those of us who live with other people may find ourselves lashing out, or taking out our unhappiness on our nearest and dearest. I feel particularly for people whose relationships with partners, children or parents were under strain even before the coronavirus came along – and who now find themselves corralled together in the house, without even the possibility of going out.

All of us have had to give up a great deal. A week or so back, as I cancelled arrangements and commitments in my diary, I felt as if I was disappearing from my own life. Friends and acquaintances all tell me of holidays and celebrations they will have to forego, trips and meetings and courses that will no longer take place. Most of us will be smarting under a sense of deprivation and loss; all of us are going to be feeling deeply disappointed about something. And that’s even before we count the literal cost of deposits lost and money paid out that we won’t be getting back.

So of course we are not feeling at our brightest and best – and that is understandable. It’s important to be able to forgive ourselves for our mean thoughts, our selfish remarks, our desire to find someone who is to blame. We may even want to blame God, since this suffering and disruption on a global scale really does feel like an ‘act of God’, something we feel helpless to change or do anything about. It’s worth remembering that God is big enough to take our negativity and our questions. But more than anything it’s important to say sorry, whether to other people or to God, and to aim for ‘amendment of life’. This is going to last for a while, and it would be better to emerge from the coronavirus crisis not feeling too ashamed of ourselves.

I’ve always thought that the truly good news of Christianity is that we worship a God who ‘forgives all who truly repent’. ‘Forgive us all that is past’, we say, ‘and grant that we may serve you in newness of life’. Jesus reminds us that there is no limit to the number of times we should forgive someone else, because there is no limit to the number of times God will forgive us. Every moment can mark a new beginning.

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