As the days in lockdown continue with few clear signs of how this period will end or how any kind of normality can be resumed in times of pandemic, it’s easy to lose heart, to feel overwhelmed and to simply want to give up. Most of us can cope with stress and abnormality for limited periods of time; after that, adrenaline runs out and we feel the slump of lethargy and lassitude, leading to depression and discouragement. The days blur into one; our lives seem so hemmed in and restrictions abound. How do we find the strength to carry on?
Today I have been reading Psalm 51, a psalm written after David’s adultery and murder, a psalm of repentance and longing for restoration. I find much in this psalm that resonates with me, especially verses 10-12. David prays, ‘Create in me a pure hert, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.’ (Ps 51:10) Steadfastness means we are resolute, unwavering, able to stand firm. How I need a steadfast spirit at this time.
He goes on to pray, ‘Do not cast me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me.’ (Ps 51:11) Ultimately, we need to be totally assured of God’s presence with us (Matt 28:18-20, Heb 13:5) if we are to have the strength to continue in these difficult times. Ultimately, we need God’s Holy Spirit living within us to bring living water to the surface so we are nurtured and fed.
Then he says, ‘Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.’ (Ps 51:12) Nehemiah tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength. (Neh 8:10) We need to choose to worship God and to praise Him, because then, as joy resurfaces in our souls, we find the strength to carry on. We find the mental resilience to keep going, rather than surrendering to despair. We also need that willing spirit to sustain us, the willingness to be made willing, in some ways. So often, our problems start with our attitudes and our unwillingness to learn the secret of being content in any and every situation. (Phil 4:12)
Ps 51 teaches us how to pray from a place of repentance and weakness. Today, we can pray for: