Lenten Reflection 1 ~ February 2021
“Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
For sure, our lives have been so full of care now basically for the past twelve months. Before Lent is through, we will have been living under the dark cloud of a global pandemic for a year. There is not a single person who can say it has been an easy time and so many have been just doing their best to get through it day by day. Even the strongest characters have admitted to buckling under the stresses and the strains, the fears and the uncertainties.
And so we begin another season of Lent looking to God for reassurance whilst we recognise all our faults and weaknesses all too well.
Over the next five weeks I invite you to pause in reflection out of the madness of our present day lives. Reflections will be posted on our Website: stpaulscompstall.co.uk and links will be posted on our Facebook page. There will also be an opportunity to join a live session via Zoom each week where we will spend time reflecting together upon God’s word and its relevance in our lives.
‘Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest’ Matthew 11:28
Let us pray:
Lord Jesus, we come to you with all our faults and our many weaknesses. We lay our cares at your feet, those things we are struggling to bear alone and ask that in your gracious mercy, you will offer us your strength and guidance. Amen
One of the saddest factors of this global pandemic has to be the number of people who are now suffering from mental health issues. These are the problems which cannot be seen like a broken limb, or detected like an infection. They are a silent and deadly enemy of the mind and soul.
They can destroy a body as much and potentially more than any physical ailment. All too often, they cannot be predicted; they creep up unexpectedly. And they cannot be prepared for or controlled, anybody who has suffered from a mental health issue will tell you that. And anyone of us can fall foul to this illness at any time in their lives. The worst thing we can do is to deny it exists.
Somebody suffering from an illness of the mind should receive the same care as somebody who has broken limbs and who has to take time, firstly to receive treatment and secondly to rehabilitate and recover.
There is still a huge stigma over mental illness conditions and the sense of shame and guilt does not help the sufferer in their recovery. I know all of these things, all too well, through first-hand experience. Mine was to do with a very specific issue which, unfortunately came to the surface but many people are currently burdened with pressures of which they have never known the like before.
I wonder if you know of anybody who is struggling at the present time, buckling under the stress and strain of it all? Maybe you feel that way yourself?
Isn’t it sad that so many are still reluctant to admit it?
I was really moved at the end of last year when I watched the former England Cricket Captain, Freddy Flintoff, admit to his own mental health issues and his eating disorder. It must have taken him so much to come forward and to share his story. He has been a public figure for so long and to admit to all he has been hiding in secret must have been such a big thing for him.
We are constantly being told we should be thankful for our lot, and yes, of course we should! But we should also be ready to admit to ourselves that sometimes we need help beyond ourselves.
For some, that does need specific counselling and therapy to take them through the underlying causes of anxiety, stress or depression. But for many there are perhaps other ways to self-help or for us to offer help.
I wonder what you are doing to help yourself and/or somebody else during these testing times? It may not feel like very much, but it could be making all the difference and by sharing our own thoughts and actions we can help others also.
In His sermon on the Mount, Jesus actively encourages us not to worry. He taught us: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34
Our first reaction might be that that’s easier said than done. But if we really look at it, this has the potential to become a verse we can turn to when trying to cope with the day to day of the current restrictions; it encourages us to take each day at a time. I know that is probably very much what we are being forced to do in many ways at present, but we can make it of our own choosing to make each day count. And there are ways we can make each one of those days less worrisome in itself.
Of course, there will always be the bigger things that will take over our minds, and we will deal with those as and when. We may need the help of others, professionals, even. But, just maybe, we need to spend a little more time considering what is really worth worrying about. Are the things that are concerning us right now really significant if we look at the bigger picture, or are we worrying unduly when we put them into perspective?
In his letter to the Philippians St Paul encourages us not to brood over the things that concern us, but to give thanks to God, to put our problems to Him in prayer (Philippians 4:6)
Do not worry, but instead give thanks. How important is this advice from St Paul in the times in which we find ourselves?
How easy is this for you to do?
Do you have a way, a method that helps you to let go of our worries? What do you do? Could you share it with somebody else who doesn’t seem to be able to do that?
Short time of Meditation – put on some relaxing music and let both your mind and your spirit be still before God.
Be still now and rest in Him for a couple of minutes before reading on. You may prefer to simply concentrate and repeat the words ‘Be still and rest in Him’.
Be still and rest in Him.
Be still, sure in the knowledge that Jesus, our healing Lord, is with you through the power of The Holy Spirit.
Be still now rest in Him.
Know that He is offers healing to each one of us, always willing to cleanse us and to make us whole again, if only we turn in faith to Him.
And so sure in this assurance turn your heart towards Him.
Be still now rest in Him.
Allow Him to take away the weight of all that has troubled you over the past day, over the past week.
Let Him lift from you any anxiety or concern that still troubles your heart.
Just Rest in Him.
With faith, let His power lift from you now any feelings of disquiet or distress, frustration or irritability.
Be still and unreservedly rest in Him.
Feel the warmth of His love as He wraps His healing arms around you and allow yourself to rest in Him.
Rest in Him.
Simply rest in Him.
Repeat this meditation regularly throughout the week to come and know that you are never alone. We know this because Jesus promised:
‘Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest’. Amen