The strong ones, the pillars, the rocks: you know who they are. They’re the people who stand firm through everything, and on whom so many depend. They hold families, churches, neighbourhoods and workplaces together; they manage their emotions for the sake of others; they support the ones who are struggling; they raise resilient kids.
When others are buffeted and blown about, their solid presence provides an anchor. When others feel like they are crumbling, they are the reliable rock. When everyone else is losing their s**t, the strong ones remain calm. They look to the facts, reject hysteria, and just keep going, sure and steadfast in this world. It’s a beautiful quality.
But after two years of pandemic stress, that is, of living in a world coloured by anticipatory fear, anxiety and loss, after two years of renegotiating work and school and family life and helping those around them do the same, after two years of pivoting again and again and again, even the strong ones are exhausted. People who are usually highly resilient are wobbling: and the pandemic is far from over.
For people accustomed to coping, even thriving, under pressure, the sort of people who expect to support others, who maintain good humour in all things, who pray their way through everything and who use difficulties as a catalyst for creativity and good work, feeling wobbly is especially hard. Those of us who wobble often know what it is to fall down, have a good cry, dust ourselves off, and get up again; but those who rarely set a foot wrong are afraid of stumbling: because it undermines their sense of self and worth and even faith.
We often talk about the weak and the vulnerable: and they (we) are close to God’s heart. But today, here’s a prayer for the strong ones. Perhaps you can pray it for yourself; or perhaps you can use it as a catalyst to pray for those people in your own life to whom others continually look for reassurance, stability and guidance.
Prayer for the strong
God of this time and every time,
these are unprecedented times.
Fear and anxiety are the air that we breathe.
We pray and pray and keep on going.
We try not to let tomorrow’s worries crowd today:
but Lord, we are tired.
God of Samson,
we see that when people rely on strength alone,
pushing on stubbornly when all seems lost,
when they feel exhausted, when they feel trapped,
when they feel hurt and angry and resentful,
they risk the destruction of those around them,
they risk bringing the whole edifice down.
God of Mary, God of Salome,
when the Temple curtain tore open
and all the men had fled,
in weakness and helplessness
the women stayed
to gaze upon the suffering beloved,
to witness the death of hope,
to tend the broken body:
they were the first to encounter you.
God of Jesus, God of Christ,
help us remember:
you emptied yourself of power and became weak;
you chose vulnerability;
you invite us to follow in your footsteps.
God of Paul, our God,
let your grace be sufficient for us.
Teach us not to rely on our strength.
Give us the courage to be vulnerable.
Help us fail, help us fall.
For in falling, we will find ourselves resting in you,
held firmly in your infinite embrace. Amen.
Emailed to Sanctuary 15 December 2021 © Sanctuary, 2021. Photo by Jhon David on Unsplash.
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