We could have predicted it – along the lines of the stages of grief identified by Kubler-Ross – but our nation is no longer in Shock (and denial and action and elation) at the implications of COVID-19. The newness of lock-down is fading and there are all sorts of signs that we’ve moved to the Anger phase: where frustration and irritation and anxiety come to the fore. When there is anger it can get directed almost anywhere – not just from Wuhan to Westminster – and, with more serious consequences, to our nearest and dearest at home and even within ourselves.
Might I urge that as Christians we take the anger to God? It’s significant that in the Bible’s handbook of prayers – the Psalms – the most common form of Psalm is the lament (approx. 1/3 of the whole Psalter!). A lament is a prayer that arises out of a situation of pain or injustice – individual or corporate – where the frustration and anxiety and anger is poured out to God. Take a look at Psalm 13, 25, 31, 86… It might be prompted by a locked church or a wifi failure or a sick friend … it doesn’t matter – God knows, God understands and God longs to hear about it from you.
Lament is not a pretty form of prayer – it’s usually anything but polite! If you have an empty room you could shut yourself in to voice it aloud; alternatively you can write a version of your own ‘psalm’. Whatever the form or circumstance, God longs to hear what’s real… and when our complaint is directed to God, then it can become an act of faith. Unworthy as we are, we turn to the God who creates and redeems, who alone finally sorts the mess!
Bishop of Dorking