Caring For Life
Keeping you up-dated
As the coronavirus pandemic unfolds, our key workers continue to support many isolated,
at risk adults in the safest possible way.
Watch our latest update from Jonathan (CEO).
COPING WITH ISOLATION
Being vulnerable as well as being Isolated can cause us to have many different feelings and fears, like the feeling of helplessness, hopelessness, loneliness as well as the overwhelming fear about the uncertainties of life and the what the future may hold. These are all issues we have sought to address at Caring of Life over the 33 years we have been in existence.
Caring For Life is blessed to have many friends who share the same concern for those who suffer in this way and one of those friends is Catherine Haddow who is a psychologist and Biblical counsellor. Once again Catherine has written another article for your encouragement and to help you through this very sad and traumatic time. We want to remind you, as we want for those in our care, that we have a hope even in the midst of self-isolation and all that it brings, even if we can’t quite see it or believe it now.
We hope and pray these short articles help you through these difficult times.
JONATHAN PARKINSON CEO
09/06/20 article: - As lockdown continues, emotional confusion is rife. It can be hard to explain how we feel. It is not unusual to feel a mixture of emotions at the same time, or suddenly swing between a few. I wonder which emotions have dominated your past week? Perhaps they have been mostly ‘negative’ emotions such as fear, loneliness, helplessness, frustration, sorrow or despair?
Emotions express what we most value, our ‘treasure’. The Covid-19 pandemic has removed or threatened many of our treasures. Emotions form part of our image bearing status before our God who values, so feels. We see this reality most clearly expressed through the perfect emotional life of Jesus; His grief, sorrow, anger, compassion, sympathy and joy are all shown in scripture. He feels some emotions very strongly because He values greatly.
It is not wrong to experience strong emotions, including negative ones; it is how we live out our emotional life that matters. We tend to fall into one of two extremes. Perhaps we tend towards a stoic approach? We carry on in an emotionless, detached state. Or maybe we follow our feelings believing we are helpless to resist. Neither approach is biblical. It is important that we listen to and engage with our emotions. They are telling us something important about our greatest treasures. But unlike Jesus who always experienced the correct emotion to the right degree, our emotions are fallen. We can experience the wrong emotion or no emotion, or the right emotion to the wrong degree.
So, what is a God-honouring approach to strong emotions? The psalms are the most emotionally expressive book of the Bible; a third are psalms of lament. Laments provide a godly way to bring our struggles and feelings, to God. They reveal something helpful about why, when we pray, we feel just as burdened when we finish. We see a clear flow which starts with a needy cry to the God who hears. This is followed by a real and raw expression of their struggle. They don’t hold back; they say it how it is. Sometimes it isn’t even theologically accurate, but they say it anyway. We might pray like this too, but we stop there. The lamenting psalms don’t! We see a clear turning point, often denoted by, ‘But you, Lord’ or similar. The psalmists lift their eyes to the King, remembering who He is and what He promises. This does something very important. Instead of ‘conforming to the world’s way of thinking’ about their struggle, they ‘renew their minds’ in Him and are transformed. The situation hasn’t changed, but it is viewed through a heavenly gaze. They see how God’s promises and character enter in and change their struggle which brings a deeper trust and dependence on their Lord. As they connect with God, their increased love for Him causes increased love for others; laments often begin personal but end in community. The two greatest commandments are in action; love God, love others.
The flow of lament isn’t a ‘4-steps to manage hard emotions’! It is a process that brings us into a deeper relationship with a Person who cares. There is power in a process that draws us into closer communion with the love of our Saviour who understands suffering. As we lament, we experience His mercy, grace and strength. He enables us to persevere and glorify Him in our struggle. Peace and a quiet joy in Him coexist with our struggles.
Psalm 102 is entitled, ‘A prayer of an afflicted person who has grown weak and pours out a lament before the Lord’. A person just like you and just like me. Let us follow the flow.
We see the cry for help in v1-2, ‘Hear my prayer, Lord; let my cry for help come to you’. They then pour their heart out to God. They can do so because they know that He is their God and they are His precious child. Nothing they say will change that truth; they are secure. Verses 3-11 reveal they are distressed, physically weak, alone amongst ruins, unable to sleep, taunted, sorrowful and withering. Is that how you feel sometimes? If so, talk to God about it (ideally out loud) but don’t stop there.
Verses 12-27 begins, ‘But you, Lord’. The afflicted lifts their eyes above their struggle, towards the Lord. They remember who He is and what He promises. He is enthroned forever, He is compassionate, He will restore, He responds to the prayers of the destitute, He hears the groans of those imprisoned, He releases those condemned to death, He is Creator and Sustainer, He is unchangeable and unending. Each declaration is relevant right now for the struggle they (and we) face because God draws close and is active. We are drawn to treasure what God treasures which flows out into a godly expression of emotion which glorifies our Saviour.
Remembering brings restful trust, ‘The children of your servants will live in your presence; their descendants will be established before you’ (v28). Our eternal future and glorious inheritance await. In glory, we will be gripped by inexpressible joy as we praise the Lord together. Until that glorious day, let us lament in our struggles.
psychologist and counsellor at The Cornerstone, Trowbridge