Ask RUOk? Then offer to pray
By now all Australian’s are keenly aware of the ticking time bomb that is COVID-19. The projections of how many might contract, and even die from this virus are alarming. But there is another fatal ticking time bomb which allied health professionals are beginning to warn us about. Suicide.
Australian mental health organisation Beyond Blue is warning the global pandemic may result in a spike in those taking their own life. Already they are seeing an increased number of calls to their help-lines. The organisation estimates anxiety around COVID-19 (whether that’s fear of the sickness, fearing of losing work, or other fears) is around seven times higher than it was during Australia’s summer bushfires.  As more and more Australians lose their jobs and find themselves isolated from human contact this should be a grave concern to Christians.
One day each year we’re encouraged to ask our friends, family, and colleagues “RUOk?” Now more than ever, Christians need to be on the frontline of reaching out and asking this question, especially to our colleagues who are facing the prospect of job loss, or fear of sickness (either for themselves or their loved ones).
On Monday this week just before the midday trading ban began for cafes I made a special visit to my local café so I could ask the manager just this question. I’d seen him the day before and he looked discouraged. So when I returned on Monday I asked him directly, “How are you feeling about having to shut your doors in a few hours?” He was incredibly frank in his response. Discouraged and angry were his two main words. We chatted for a bit, and I asked a few more questions before responding. I’ve shared with him previously that I’m a Christian, and so I said to him simply, “I know this might not mean much to you, but I wanted to let you know that I’ve been praying for you and your staff”. His response was overwhelmingly positive: “Actually that does mean something”.
Now this is hardly a remarkable conversation. Many Christians across the nation are having similar conversations each day. But it demonstrates a little practice we should all be adopting now, as isolation, loneliness, depression and anxiety increase. You can sum it up in eight words:
Ask, “Are you ok”? Then offer to pray.
Does this article raise concerns for you? Reach out to a City Bible Forum team member, or phone one of the many professional services available:
Lifeline 13 11 14
Mensline 1300 789 978
Kids Helpline 1800 551 800
beyondblue 1300 224 636.
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Andrew Laird works for City Bible Forum in Melbourne and directs Life@Work - an initiative aimed at connecting Christian faith with our daily work. He’s also the author of a book, Under Pressure: how the gospel helps us handle the pressures of daily work.