When at the back end of last year, we decided that our anniversary year would be one marked with leading and lamenting, we had no idea how painfully pertinent a message it would be.
In the UK, we are entering our ninth week in lockdown, hundreds of thousands of people have died and for many, the future is looking uncertain and overwhelming. We know that even after the restrictions have lifted, there will be a legacy of mental health concerns to come, some which are already emerging. The Guardian this week reported that the Royal College of Psychiatrists has highlighted that the pandemic has caused people to suffer with serious mental illnesses such as psychosis, depression and mania.
Covid-19 has been, and continues to be a pressure cooker for our emotions, relationships and our health.
There is much to lament; the loss of life, livelihoods, certainty.
And there is much for us to lead the way forward on – starting with kindness and justice.
For kindness is not something soft and fluffy, a pat on the head. It’s powerful.
The kindness of God is what all our laments turn on.
In Lamentations right at the centre of the book, it is the kindness of God which brings the highlight – the very reason that we can lament to God is not just because of His power – but because of His kindness.
Yet I call this to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the loving devotionb of the LORD we are not consumed,
for His mercies never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness!
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in Him.”
The phrase “loving devotion” is translated as hesed in the original Hebrew and literally means “loving kindness”. Author Michael Card writes in his book on Hesed:
“hesed appears at this turning point. It marks the transition from despair to hope, from emptiness to a new possibility of becoming filled once more.”
We can lament and cry out to God because of His loving kindness towards us – and in turn – we can lead with the kindness towards others.
So this Mental Health Awareness Week, that’s what we want to do. We want to encourage you to share your lamentations as well as your kindnesses.
There is much to lament.
But because of the Lord’s kindness, there is a better way to lead the campaign to understand mental illness and respond with compassion.