Monday, July 07, 2008

Suffering

"In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it? I have entered many Buddhist temples in different Asian countries and stood respectfully before the statue of the Buddha, his legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing round his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world. But each time, after a while I have had to look away. And in imagination I have turned instead to the lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding from thorn pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in God-forsaken darkness. That is the God for me! He laid aside His immunity to pain. He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us. Our sufferings become more manageable in the light of His. There is still a question mark against human suffering, but over it we stamp another mark, the cross which symbolizes divine suffering." —John R.W. Stott in "The Cross of Christ"

Periodically I am having intense recurrences of depression. I worked with my doctor in April and added Wellbutrin to the Prozac I have been taking for years. For a while I was much better.
Now in July I am hitting days long periods of sadness, emptiness, fatigue, vague aches and pains, and a desire to be released from this life. Most aspects of my life are quite wonderful. Here is a partial list: relationship with God, loving wife, healthy successful children, a beautiful grandchild, and many many dear friends, enough money to retire from work for pay, and interesting volunteer work where my contributions are appreciated. I am well recovered from my knee replacement surgery that took place a year ago. I have been free of pain medication dependence for more than six months. I exercise, eat reasonably well. I push myself to keep moving and to be social even when I don't feel like it. Nonetheless, I have very severe bouts of feeling down. In a way it is embarrassing, because I know that I am blessed in so many ways. Oddly enough, I take some comfort in the quotes like the one above. God himself suffered as a man. Many prophets, teachers, evangelists, and simply devout Christians have suffered terribly. God knows what is going on with me. It is not a fluke or an accident. He has it figured into his plan for my life. Meanwhile, it still hurts. But I can honestly say that I feel the depression lifting some as I confess that I am struggling and as I dwell on the fact that Jesus was a man of sorrows and suffering.

If it happens that anyone reads this, rejoice if you sufferings are few. Take heart, be encouraged if your sufferings are many. God has not forgotten us. This will all work out somehow.
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