Faith column: A time to trust in prayer that heals our hearts

Our lives, for all our careful planning, are unpredictable and we have no control over the events that may overtake us. A death in the family, a job loss, a friendship falling-out, an accident. Suddenly, the tectonic plates of our personal certainty shift scarily underfoot.

Our collective lives, too, can be ambushed and jeopardised. Like the impact of the coronavirus on our normal social settings, these events conspire to undermine and test us as we retreat into ourselves or club together in small clusters or watch others warily in a new variation of siege mentality. Our hearts become brittle.

In times of doubt and dilemma, I have grateful recourse to prayer.Credit:TNS

Whatever the origin, there are days, and sometimes weeks and months, when we are not ourselves. We have been knocked off true north and are desperately trying to clamber back on the sturdy little barque of normality and certainty and stability. We yearn for our old selves and the way things were. But we know deep down that we must adapt and change and accommodate new ways of living together. We must adopt other ways of working and collaborating and socialising; varying our ways of worship and being in community.

Meanwhile, we miss that sense of touch and hug and kiss, the physicality and fun, as social distancing becomes the status quo. We lose a little something of our spontaneity as our freedoms are necessarily curtailed for the common good.

As well as the qualities of resilience and teeth-gritting endurance, during these testing times, we need God on our side. This is when we need to apply the remedial and hope-filled prescription referred to so often in the New Testament: Take heart. It’s an old-fashioned and poetic way of saying Be courageous.

The sun will rise tomorrow. Credit:E+

In my own times of doubt and dilemma, I have grateful recourse to prayer. This may well be a messy talking-it-out which articulates my hurts and grievances and allows me the comfort of both catharsis and counsel.

I know that God can see through my excuses and deflections and justifications. My venality is exposed and it’s not a pretty sight; grubby sin, mean omission, uncharitable gossip, this underbelly or shadow side, this less of me. But I also believe that I am accepted as I am and that my part of the deal is to do and be better; to aim for the best of me, even though imperfection and failure and a bit of temperamental foot-stamping and obduracy are part of the packet-mix of my personality.

In a spiritual sense it is summed up by knowing that I am not alone; that I am walking on solid ground, sure-footed and certain. Psalm 31:24 reminds me to "Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord".

My foundations are strengthened as I take heart in knowing that these grey days will pass, the sun will rise tomorrow and reassuring certainties will hold me close.

My heart will go on.

Ann Rennie is a Melbourne teacher and writer.

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