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Praying in an Emergency

A friend struggling with mood swings hit some shocking lows in the past where he felt useless, despairing and unloved by all, including God. He talks about it now as a frightening experience, and about the hidden depths of the mind and extreme abandonment. He often thought about giving up on what he calls ‘this hellish existence’. He often felt himself surrounded by darkness, threatened by despair and clinging on to faith by his fingernails. In these emergency situations he needed something to sustain him. Trying to help him in these dark hours it was helpful to get him to focus on the positive, on his achievements and the people who love him; but this helped only a little. The only thing that really worked was reminding him that Jesus was there for him, someone who knew similar pain, and that he himself didn’t have to do anything to merit this love. Jesus who is pure love felt his pain, was with him in the darkness and wanted to bring comfort and relief. Most important for him to know was that he didn’t have to do anything, didn’t have to change or be different. It helped to alleviate the anxiety and tension he felt. It was an anchor
in the storm.
An action you might find helpful:
Find a picture of the face of Jesus that you like; there are many on the Internet.
Breathe deeply to remind yourself you are not alone.
Take your time to look at the picture, notice the face of Jesus, his hair, his skin. Notice that his eyes are looking at you – Jesus is seeing you just as you are. He sees only the best in you and his look is one of great compassion and care. He wants you to know the great love that he has for you. Remind yourself that your pain or suffering is only temporary but his love is for ever. Stay with this exercise until you come to appreciate this love in your heart. Finish by giving thanks for what you have received, find the gratitude in your heart even if you don’t always feel it. Place this picture in your sacred space; remember, you can come back to this at any time.
A Scripture piece you might like to read and pray with:
Isaiah 40:28–31 He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
*This is an excerpt from the Book, Deeper into the Mess, co-written with Brendan McManus, SJ
*For a link to Deeper into the Mess as well as other books I have written or co-written, click here

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