faith, life, depression, struggle

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Depression, isolation ... faith

And the struggle continues. I find myself in one bind after another, fueled by a depression I no longer understand, a fear that it is "leaking" into my behavior when I have to be in public, a resulting isolation from that fear, and ... a sudden, surprising surge of faith, just when I thought I was clinging desperately to it.

And then, again, the fear, the darkness, the anguish that is eating me alive. There is something terribly wrong with me, I know, but it has always been thus. I brush up against life, but I cannot grasp it. All I see around me is what I see within: conflict, opposition, hatred. Why is my heart yet so dark? Why have I failed so miserably in my faith, to hold onto my faith? What has happened to me?

As strange as it sounds, I miss the immunotherapy. I miss the cancer center, being with the people there, sharing in encouragement and hope. Now ... I'm just barren. I just want to be done with everything, to be gone, to face God's judgment and submit to His determination of what is to be done with me. I pray He will indeed forgive, for I crave His forgiveness. I pray He will indeed be merciful, for I long for His mercy. I pray Christ will speak for me, because I have no voice, no answers, nothing.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Materialism and faith

"Among democratic nations men easily attain a certain equality of condition, but they never can attain as much as they desire. It perpetually retires from before them, yet without hiding itself from their sight, and in retiring draws them on .... They are near enough to see its charms, but too far off to enjoy them; and before they have fully tasted its delights, they die."
-- Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

We Americans are routinely sold a bucket of lies by other Americans. From our whitewashed "patriotic" history to the endless yearning for what we don't have (which afflicts us individually, organizationally, and nationally), we tend to conflate our nationality with materialism, or, just as bad, spirituality. At some point along the line -- when capitalism (and consumerism, its engine) and Christianity became intertwined -- we added leaven to the lump.

So while I am concerned about the recession and actually worried about our rapidly growing national debt, I have to take a step back and wonder aloud: Is it so bad? Is a giant foot stomping our consumer excesses really such a terrible thing?

Jesus urged his questioners to "Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s" (Matt. 22:21, ESV) -- directly implying the need to treat them separately. It seems clear to me that there is a Biblical principle at work here: holding on to all things of this world with an open hand. Nothing here belongs to us; all of it will rust, fade, and vanish. That doesn't mean we're not to be responsible for what we're given to tend; just that we're not to let it consume us, or to become consumers, with the eternal mindset of "MORE."

I write all this knowing I'm as guilty as anyone of these very things. I have failed my Lord and Maker again and again, chasing electronics, books, DVDs, whatever. It's an empty pursuit. There is only one pursuit I know of that truly quenches the thirst, and that is that reaching upward to God. As painful as it often is, it is also reassuring and quieting to know that Jesus opened heaven even to me, even to someone as lowly as I am.