As the ongoing pandemic keeps a huge proportion of the world’s population under lockdown, concerns have been raised in many quarters about the impact of these measures on mental wellbeing.
Each year during May the Mental Health Foundation promotes Mental Health Awareness Week.
Their intention was to focus on the theme of sleep this year, but in light of the coronavirus outbreak, they have made the decision to change the theme to kindness.
Many of us are blessed to have received kindness from others, on countless occasions and in countless ways, and we would all acknowledge the beneﬁts it brings. During the last few weeks, much media attention has been given to the outpouring of benevolence prompted by the crisis, from the simple weekly clap for carers, to the astonishing fundraising eﬀorts of Captain Tom Moore. Many commentators have mused whether we will participate in and enjoy a kinder society as we come out the other side of this collective experience.
Beyond the beneﬁts of receiving kindness, research has revealed that putting more time and eﬀort into acts of kindness leads to improved emotional and mental wellbeing. For followers of Jesus, we may recognise this as nothing new, remembering that He said,
“it is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20.35)
We agreed recently that supporting one another is one of the core objectives of our ecclesia. In recent weeks it may have felt more diﬃcult to do this as we have willingly complied with the instructions to remain physically separated from one another, and perhaps as we struggle ourselves with the new and unusual pressures that come with living under lockdown. And whilst we do have to take care of ourselves, watching that we do not become overwhelmed by the situation we ﬁnd ourselves in, looking out for each other is given greater priority in Scripture.
We are exhorted to ensure that physical needs are met, but of lasting value is the eﬀort we must put into supporting each other spiritually, so that we all may arrive at the kingdom together, as one.
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any aﬀection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
Do nothing from selﬁsh ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more signiﬁcant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a wooden stake.
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
This month let us pray that we each may have the humility to perceive, prioritise and act on the needs of others in our ecclesia, for their wellbeing both now and in the kingdom to come.