Thursday, February 08, 2007

Hurts Too Bad To Laugh

In 1858, the Illinois legislature, using an obscure statute, sent Stephen A Douglas to the U.S. Senate instead of Abraham Lincoln, even though Lincoln had won the popular vote. When a friend asked the future President how he felt, he responded, "Like the boy who stubbed his toe: I am too big to cry and too badly hurt to laugh."

The numerous political disappointments that Abraham Lincoln experienced are legendary. It was his personal disappointments, though, that darkened his perspective on life. At one time, he told a fellow legislator and friend that he was so overcome with mental depression that when he was by himself he never dared carry a pocket knife. That was his life-long practice.

This week I had another disappointment. If I had a dollar for every time that I had been disappointed or had disappointed someone else, I could buy a huge ranch in New Mexico. Webster defines disappointment as failing to come up to an expectation or hope.

Hope, in a secular sense, is a desire with expectation of or belief in fulfillment. The optimist who has a depression disorder still gets out of bed with the hope of a better day. He ventures into unknown or difficult circumstances because he clings to his dreams, in spite of all of his life's disappointments. He expects things to get better, but when they don't he falls back into that pit of despair. For people who have a mental illness, it takes a long time to recover. Maybe, they will never allow hope to build up in their heart again. Disappointment hurts. So, how many times can you be hurt and still get out of bed?

As many of you know, I began a new full-time job about two months ago. I was feeling pretty good and I was given the opportunity to try to function well enough to perform the duties of employment. Tuesday, I had to give notice to my employer that I would be unable to continue working. I am beginning to be deeply depressed.

It seemed as though it happened almost over night. Last Friday, I began to notice some familiar symptoms, such as lethargy, fatigue, difficulty thinking and focusing, as well as procrastination. When I can't think or understand, I put off (even hide) things that confuse me. By Tuesday, I was unable to count money or perform my duties or even talk. After discussing the problem with my wife, I called my employer to tell him that I would need to resign. He was disappointed. I was disappointed. My wife was disappointed. One more in a long list of disappointments.

If I had a race horse, I might name him "Disappointment." Of course, his race record would probably be disappointing. (Just a little "disappointment" humor. Disappointing isn't it?) I'm getting silly now.

Which brings us back to this. People have to have something to hope for, and I'm not talking about the things that we wish for. One of my clearest memories of my childhood is the time (s) that my Dad and I sat out on the porch and looked at the stars. He pointed out the evening star and taught me to say, "Starlight, star bright, first star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight."

The hope talked about in the Bible is not a "wish I may, wish I might" kind of experience. It isn't "maybe so, maybe not." This word in the first century Koine Greek language has the technical meaning of "a joyful and confident expectation of good to come." Confident is the key word here. Wishful thinking doesn't carry the power of Biblical hope. Our confidence in difficult and disappointing times is not in ourselves or in good luck, but it rests on the faithfulness of God and our relationship with Him. The good to come may be temporal or it may be eternal, but it is assured to those who love the Lord. It might be summed up in a word. Heaven.

Now, if I had no hope of heaven, that would really be disappointing.

["I'm so low I could do a ten minute free-fall off the edge of a dime."]


Brian Nicklaus said...

God bless you.

thanks for being an encouragement and inspiration for me.

hang in there

there is a book out about Lincoln's depression, and how it might have actually been a benefit for him and the country during the war.

Stormy Joe Ward said...

Thanks, Brian for your kind words. It did occur to me this morning that I might be interested in gathering biographies about some of the famous people who struggled with depression, i.e. Lincoln, Winston Churchill, etc.

Neva said...

Just now, I said a prayer for you --that God would grant you safe passage through this lifestorm. That He would part the waters, roll back the clouds and set the sun shining in your heart, again. I will continue to pray for you until you tell me to stop.
Peace and prayers, my brother,