Today is St George’s Day. A day when we might thing about the glories of Old England or the excitement of damsels in distress being grabbed from the jaws of badly behaved dragons. Whatever we think about the life St George actually led, the imagery we use to portray him is all about struggle- and mostly struggle with a mythical beast. Something frightening and deadly. And it seems obvious that it was courage which enabled him to overcome his foe.
We face a very non mythical threat at the moment, and we need courage- lots of it. We need courage just to give us the energy to get through each day- and it is the courage and determination of our medical professionals at the moment- as well as their skill and their care, which leaves so many of us in awe.
Having the courage to go back for ANOTHER shift in ICU when you know what hard emotional and physical work it will be, having the courage to make ANOTHER phone call to a family to break the news to them that things are not going to get better for the person they love.
There is nothing wrong- at all- with weeping over the situation we find ourselves in, but having the courage to get back up and carry on being positive, kind, generous- that is the gift many of us need at present.
Courage, perseverance, endurance- we can’t really hang on to any of these unless we also have hope- the hope of something better which is worth struggling towards, however distant the outcome.
Today’s morning prayer uses this passage from Ephesians 6:
“Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power……. take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15 As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 16 With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.”
Our battle at present is not only to eliminate a virus, but to remain faithful in prayer and love for one another, hopeful in the face of death and despair: courageous in fact. Just to keep going at the moment requires us all to draw on God’s grace and to seek that strength which is given to us when we have run out of our own reserves. Prayer is the anchor here- however incoherent our prayers may feel to us- making a decision daily, hourly, to trust God for what we need for the day.
Let’s keep praying for those who are giving so much during this awful crisis- and let’s keep seeking the courage we need to remain loving, hopeful and generous hearted as we walk through another day.