One year ago today, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a COVID-19 pandemic. It has been a roller coaster ride since then, and it’s not quite over. There are many signs of hope, from the roll-out of various vaccines and a decline in cases, but we are still suffering.
Every day I think about the countless people who have been living under extreme stress and pressure since March 2020. These are just some of them:
- Health-care workers
- Grocery store and drugstore staff
- Long-term care workers and residents
- Older people
- People with disabilities
- Those living in abusive situations
- Childcare workers
- Indigenous people
- Racialized people
- People without homes
- Those awaiting treatment or surgery for serious health conditions
- Everyone who has lost their job or their business
- People who are isolated or lonely
You probably know people from this list. Maybe you live with them. Maybe you are one of them.
A recent Mental Health Research Canada poll revealed all-time highs in the number of people reporting they had symptoms of anxiety (25%) or depression (17%). This is an increase of 70% since the height of the first wave of the pandemic. Sobering statistics.
As people of faith, we look to God for strength in such times of trial. Psalm 121 has echoed through the ages since ancient times:
The aptly titled At Your Side: Prayers for Messy, Delightful, Complicated, Outrageous, Everyday Life, by Raymond Friel and David Wells, offers us a contemporary take on life’s difficult moments. For today, the one-year anniversary of the pandemic, the prayer “Stressed” from their engaging and honest prayer collection is one we can all relate to. After you pray it – silently or aloud, alone or with other people – take a few moments to pray for all those who are suffering because of COVID and its effects on our lives.
Lord, I don’t feel so good.
I don’t feel right.
Pressure is one thing.
There is pressure all the time
to perform, to deliver, to be successful.
But this is different.
This is a tightness in my chest,
a sudden, rising panic.
This is a night without sleep.
This is tearful, this is stress.
I am at the far end of my resources
and need help.
know that you are loved.
Rest in me awhile; lay down your burden.
I know stress, too. I know anguish.
I know what it’s like to beg
that the cup will be taken away.
I have been to the worst places
that you inhabit;
in your most lonely darkness,
in your Gethsemane,
you’ll find me there.
“Stressed” © Raymond Friel and David Wells. Used with permission.
At Your Side is filled with prayers for all kinds of real-life situations for our times: before a meeting, when we are losing purpose, in praise of creation, before a difficult conversation, and many more. It can be found and purchased here.
If your struggle is more than you can bear, please remember that we’re all in this together; have the courage to reach out to a trusted friend or a professional who can help.
Anne Louise Mahoney is Managing Editor of English books at Novalis. As a lifelong bookworm, she loves working with authors on books and other resources that help readers of all ages to learn about and grow in their faith in today’s world.