Friday, August 03, 2007
Depressed To Death
Most Christians spend their whole life getting ready to die. Death is one appointment that we all have to keep. To the rest of the world, Christianity takes an illogical and scary position on this subject. Non-Christians can not understand why we are able to face death without fear.
Listen to the apostle Paul, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.....having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better (Philippians 1:21, 23)." Living for Christ prepares us to be with Christ. I've always like the story about the old Scotsman, who on his death-bed said, "If I die, I will be with Jesus, and if I live, Jesus will be with me." This is the attitude that enables us to face depression in this life, and to be ready for heaven in the next life.
While I'm not afraid of death, I am concerned about dying. There's a distinction between the two. Death is the point at which I will step out of this world, and step into the arms of Jesus. Death lasts less than 1/1,000,000 of a millisecond. Dying is the process that precedes death. It can last a day, a week, a month, a year or longer. If prolonged, dying can be as ugly as Hell, literally.
I spent the last two weeks of my Dad's life at his bedside. I got to see, up close and personal, the ugliness of dying. The heritage of Satan. Prior to becoming a Christian, my father spent years drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco. You may not know it, but there is a synergistic effect when you combine the two. Synergism occurs when the total effect is greater than the sum of the individual effects. One plus (+) one =three. Your body is destroyed at a more rapid rate when you combine the elements of alcohol and tobacco. My Dad died of cancer of the lungs and brain.
When my Dad passed away, I found that I was left with a phobia of dying. I feared that I would one day find myself dying with the loss of dignity that I saw in my father. Pain I can endure, but pity and embarrassment would break my heart. It has continued to be an occasional, but earnest, prayer that I would be allowed to die with dignity. Perhaps as a reward for a life of depression.
More like my mother's experience. Mom had always had good health. Even in her eighties, she was mobile, lively and happy. On the day prior to her death, I had taken her to her doctor, and he gave her the results of some tests that had been made. He said that she had cancer markers in her blood.
I knew what she was thinking. She and I both remembered how awful my father's dying had been. She wanted to avoid that, as did I. I will never forget our conversation. Mom said, "Stormy, I don't want to die with cancer. I wish I could just go to bed and never wake up." I replied, "Mama, that's the way that all of us want to go, but that just doesn't happen very often." "I know," she said, "but I don't want to die like your Dad did."
Since my mother lived in an apartment a few blocks from me, I usually called her every day to see how she was doing. Sometimes I would just drop by to talk. The day after her doctor's appointment, I received a call from my aunt Dofa. She said that she had called Mama several times and didn't get an answer.
I drove the four blocks to my mother's home, and walked inside. I called out, but heard nothing. I walked through the house, and looked out into her backyard, but I couldn't find her. I thought that maybe she was visiting with her neighbor. Finally, I went into her bedroom, and I found her lying on the floor. She was dead, but she had the most peaceful smile on her face. Really!! Evidently, Mama got her wish. I thought, "I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish she got tonight."
As you see, my parents had distinctly different manners of dying. But now, in death, they both fully understand the meaning of Paul when he wrote, "Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord--for we walk by faith, not by sight--we are of good courage,I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6-8)."
So what does all of this have to do with depression? Just this. Heaven is a place prepared for people who are prepared for heaven. Like the Scotsman, we should be able to say, "If I die, I will be with Jesus, and if I live ( in depression), Jesus will be with me."
Even depressed Christians are radical thinkers, at least as viewed by the rest of the world. "Therefore, we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 5:16)." While we struggle with depression and our personal phobias, we are still a prepared people preparing ourselves for heaven. "Therefore, we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him (2 Cor.5:9)."
While we may be always depressed, we can still be confident that our manner of dying and the day of our death, are two things that are firmly and gently in the hands of God. "The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:5-7)."
["I'm so low, I could do a ten minute free-fall off the edge of a dime."]