The disruptions and isolation of COVID-19 can affect our mental health, leaving us feeling overwhelmed by change and uncertainty. But God assures us: He is near us.

Since COVID-19 turned the world upside down at the beginning of the year, we are still feeling the effects of the coronavirus in our daily lives.

We are being urged to keep our distance from others, even loved ones. We are trying to be frugal with our finances, because our jobs are under constant threat and savings are being eaten away. We are keeping our families and little ones calm, while the anxiety silently threatens to overwhelm our already troubled hearts.

The retreat away from open society may have also led to a retreat into ourselves, and we end up wrestling with the dark clouds of uncertainty on our own. Perhaps we feel more alone than ever with the burdens we carry.

Keeping our distance physically is a good thing when it comes to protecting one another from viruses. But distancing isn’t so good when it creeps into our relationships, especially our intimacy with God. Spiritual distance can quickly lead to spiritual darkness and mental and emotional fatigue.

The writer of Psalm 73 wisely concluded: “But as for me, it is good to be near God” (Psalm 73:28). But aren’t there days and seasons when God seems far off? Especially now, when things don’t add up? When life doesn’t make sense? Sometime, it seems that the “wrong teams” are winning (vv. 2–15). Confusion seems to reign in our lives, and we cry out: “God, where are you? Have you forgotten about me?”

Then God breaks through. Sometimes, it’s in the context of worship (vv. 16–17), through reading Scripture, or through the encouragement of friends. Our hearts become sensitive again, and prayers begin to rise from within (vv. 23–25). Our sight becomes clear, and once again, we recognise that “God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (v. 26).

Even when darkness threatens to overwhelm, we can come and know the Light of the world who is with us—right here, right now. When we feel at our lowest, we can be assured of God’s presence and draw close to Him.

A Prayer for the Evening

God our Father,
by whose mercy the world turns safely into darkness
and returns again to light each day:
I entrust this extended time of darkness to You.
I place into Your all-powerful hands
the tasks I am unable to finish,
the problems I cannot solve,
the hopes and dreams which have been dashed,
my family I am still distant from
and the future which remains veiled.
Bring this world back into the light
of Your healing in Your perfect timing.
Even though I face so much darkness,
Christ remains the Light of the world;
the Light by which I see my eternal hope each day.
I place my faith firmly in Him for these days, Amen.

A Prayer for Others

Gracious heavenly Father,
You gave us the highest honour in creation
by creating us in Your image.
But we struggle in this world of sin
to keep our body and mind whole and healthy.
Hear my prayer now for all
who are battling mental health issues,
especially during the isolation of COVID-19 restrictions.
Extend Your abundant grace to them
and meet their inner needs.
Give them strength to resist the temptation
to turn to addictive substances or activities,
or anything that will only cause them harm.
Show them positive ways to spend their time,
to fix their eyes upon You and Your Word,
and remind them of songs and Scriptures,
which will build their faith
and bring them into a season of peace and refreshment.
For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

Adapted from He Hears Us, published by Our Daily Bread Ministries 2020.

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