From The Garden Bench - Struggles
Words by David Hollows
During the Covid-19 season what have you struggled with?
No hugs, no face-to-face contact especially with family members, the whole issue of isolation, loneliness, too much time on your hands, a lack of choice.
Covid struggles have come in all sorts of shapes and sizes: there has been the massive issue of separation, especially when a person in a hospital or care-home setting has not been able to accept visitors. There has been the worry and anxiety for family members and friends if not for ourselves.
There have been issues of keeping ourselves busy and staying away from boredom, especially if we are used to leading hectic lifestyles which suddenly came to an abrupt stop in March. This has not been easy for many of us.
Photo by Anthony Tran via Unsplash
The media has quite rightly brought to our attention the issues of mental health and well-being, that it is not enough just to keep exercise our bodies but we need to exercise our minds as well. One big concern has been the rise in mental health issues for the young who have struggled with not having contact with friends other than via social media.
On the reverse side of this coin, there have been the relational issues where people have suddenly found themselves in 24/7 situations whereas normally work and school would provide a natural break in maintaining healthy relationships. There have been struggles with regards to cancelled medical and hospital appointments owing to the need to prioritise people with Covid as well as the deferment of important non-urgent operations. There has been the stress caused by long queues outside chemists and the delivery of vital medication as well as the fear of going to a hospital building in case Covid is caught.
For many people in society, these struggles are not new but have been part of daily living for many years. Many struggles are not related simply to physical health: a lack of confidence, low self-esteem, not being valued or appreciated are as much of a struggle for some people.
Struggles become even more complicated when they become addictions such as drugs and alcohol, especially for the younger generations.
Covid has brought extra struggles in the work place: for those working in hospital or care home settings and the PPE that has had to be worn, those on other frontlines such as in the pharmacies and the emergency services when precaution and safety have been paramount. Being on furlough and now unemployment and redundancy all add to the struggles of life, especially for the younger generations who have not previously had to cope with such issues.
This Covid season has certainly revealed the level of known struggles many people face and certainly brought to light the many invisible struggles which blight people’s lives. In some ways, this has been beneficial as people can now start to address their struggles and receive support: this has been particularly true for the many children who, as young carers, give so much of themselves to support an adult in their life. If you have survived the Covid season with no struggles at all, then please share your strategies with those who have not been as successful as you.
Photo by Rod Long via Unsplash
In the Bible there are many examples of broken people and their struggles.
Jealousy: Cain murders his brother because he suspects that Abel is more valued than he is (Genesis chapter 4) How difficult this must have been to the parents of Cain following the murder.
Self-preservation: in order to save his own life, Abram persuades his wife to explain to the Egyptians that she is the sister and not the wife of Abram (Genesis chapter 12).
Deception: Jacob deceives his own father in order to receive the family blessing thus disinheriting his own twin brother, Esau (Genesis chapter 27).
Depression: having overcome King Ahab and his prophets and witnessing the mighty power and presence of God, Elijah then finds himself a broken man in the desert and depressed (1 Kings chapter 19).
Self-belief and worth: in order to believe that God has called him to an important task, Gideon has to reassure himself by testing God (Judges chapter 6).
Self-determination and disobedience: Jonah goes to other end of the known world and endures storms and whales before accepting the incredible task of saving an entire nation (the book of Jonah).
Lack of trust: when Moses is so long in the presence of God, Aaron and the Israelites replace their trust in God with a golden calf despite all that they had experienced from God during the time in the desert (Exodus chapter 32).
Lack of confidence: Moses uses a variety of excuses to wriggle out of being the spokesperson for God who wants the release of His people from Egypt (Exodus chapter 6).
Anger: Saul often unleashes his anger in bouts of jealousy mostly directed at David but, in this Bible instance, at his own son, Jonathan (1 Samuel chapter 20).
Selfishness: both the Prodigal Son and the older brother reveal their own levels of selfishness in comparison to the generous and outrageous nature of their father (Luke chapter 15).
Betrayal: within hours of each other, both Judas and Peter betray Jesus (Luke chapter 22).
Doubts: Thomas finds it very difficult to believe that Jesus is alive (John chapter 21)
You may be able to think of other struggles which feature in the Bible and consider how God supported the person to overcome the issue.
You may struggle yourself with any one of these struggles or may know of another person who does.
The bottom line is that God understands our struggles, our brokenness and the issues we face in our daily lives. God wants to support us as we navigate ourselves through our struggles and share the pain.
All we have to do is turn to God and ask Him for that help and receive His support, care and love in faith.
You may find the following hymn useful:
Will your anchor hold in the storms of life (Mission Praise 770)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTfypuXwrMA&t=7s (Songs of Praise)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfPnBuKGCVY (More Upbeat)
You may find the following prayer helpful:
God, I ask you from the wealth of your love to give me the power through your Spirit to be strong in my inner self. I ask for your grace in those times when I fail to give you my struggles and lose hope. I pray that you will pick me up when I fall down under the burdens of my struggles. I recognise that it is by the means of your presence in my life that you can do so much more than I can ever ask for, or even think of. God, I ask that you will walk with me and carry me, when necessary, every day of my life.
Photo by Matthew McBrayer via Unsplash
God bless you