The original deadline date for articles for this magazine was the 23rd of April. On that day the 37th London Marathon was held. In the lead up to this event there was a lot of press coverage around issues of mental health. The principal charity for this year’s race was The Heads Together Campaign. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Henry’s support for this campaign have brought these issues to the attention of many. Last month’s ‘Life and Work’ magazine and this month’s edition again contain features on mental health.
Many years ago I ran in several Glasgow marathons in the 1980’s, however, my continuing recovery from an Achilles injury means that I will not be running a marathon any time soon.
However the marathon and issues of mental health have been connected in my own experiences as I have often found myself chatting to people who have experienced difficulties in their lives. The statistics indicate that 1 in 4 of us will at some point in our lives have an issue with our mental health. That means that you, or someone you know, will have been affected by such issues.
How does that fit into our understanding of faith when we or someone we know or love is struggling? How do we respond? This might be a trial of faith for us. How do we cope? And what encourages us when we ‘hit the wall’? Maybe we need to persevere – to run ‘through the wall’ as it were. Maybe we need to let others and God come alongside us, to listen, help and guide us. As Christians we do not journey on our own, we are pilgrims in the company of others.
Many of you I am sure saw the Chorlton Runners athlete David Wyeth struggling as he neared the end of the London Marathon. To his aid came Matthew Rees a Swansea Harrier, who stopped 300 metres from the finish line, foregoing his own early finish, to help a fellow competitor, saying “We’ll cross the line together.” And so they did. Crowds including Prince William cheered them on, and race officials tweeted, “You’ve just encompassed everything that’s so special about the London Marathon.”
The following day, David was interviewed on TV along with Matthew, his ‘Good Samaritan’ and asked if the positions were altered, would he have stopped and helped Matthew. He said that he would love to think that he would.
This made me think of those who have helped me over the years in my own race for life, and those whom I have tried to help. Getting alongside people is a great challenge and calling in which we can share with God’s help. After all “from whence doth come mine aid? My safety cometh from the Lord.” Psalm 121