According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) latest report on the social impacts of Covid-19, the vast majority of us are keeping the lockdown rules but many are unhappy and anxious. We are not immune from this as Christians but it does also present a massive opportunity to bring gospel hope.
The report shows a high degree of compliance with recent tightened restrictions such as wearing face coverings, household isolation and social distancing. But along with that there is a rise in those saying they are experiencing anxiety, which is back at levels last seen in April 2020.
All the indicators of well-being have pretty much been on the wrongs side of pre-pandemic levels for the past year and the most recent trends as 2021 begins are for us to be suffering even more with boredom, loneliness, anxiety and stress. We are less satisfied, less happy and more anxious than before Christmas.
There is some hope being expressed with the vaccine being rolled out, but only a quarter of us think life will return to “normal” within 6 months, a quarter believe it could take over a year.
As Christians we need to see this as an opportunity to serve but also to face the questions about our own sense of well-being.
We need to recognise the real struggles people have and show compassion and care for those who are feeling anxious and worthless. We know that as humans made in God image we are workers and we are relational, and so taking those things away is a real challenge. But at the same time, we can start to bring the comfort of knowing Jesus. Only he will be with us in the worst and the best days, isolated or crowded, anxious or optimistic. Only he can bring satisfaction that circumstances will not eventually steal from us. Only he provides real salvation and a return to the real “normal” that we ache for – relationship with God.
Even as we say these things, we need to examine our own hearts, As Christians we know that sometimes we too trust in our relationships, good health and a sense that we are control. Yes, we will miss the things that have been taken away and there will be days when life does seem rather monotonous and worthless. But we know for sure that life does always have meaning and purpose and that Christ is still with us. Through these trials we want to be learning “the secret of being content in any and every situation… whether living in plenty or in want” because we know we can “do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians Chapter 4)
So we press on with this hope in our hearts and on our lips.
Here are the main graphs used in the report.