The Messiah Jesus said:
“No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light” Luke 11:33-36
Jesus is speaking here that if we look at life in a healthy way. If we see reality in the “light” or truth of God’s revelation then our whole being will be healthy. However, if the way we look at the world is not healthy then everything in our inner world will be filled with lies and darkness. In fact if we think that our “darkness” is light then we will not even be looking for a better way to look at things.
So if our interpretation of the our life and reality is leading us into the darkness of depression the first step that we have to take to overcome this cold and bitter night of the soul is to recognize that our way of understanding life is part of the reason why things seem so very dismal and despairing. We do not will such emotions into being but they are the fruit of the “story” that we use to understand our lives.
There is a story of two men facing the gas chambers created by the Nazi’s. One was a bible teacher who led a small congregation of bible students. He and the others had been sentenced to die in the gas chambers. He assured them that God would save them from such a horrible death. As the teacher was about to enter into the gas chamber he turned to those who had followed him as their religious leader and said in a loud voice, “There is no God”. He turned and entering into the gas chamber died.
Another man ran a religious orphanage for Jews. The soldiers came to take the children to the extermination camp and because the man was a person of social standing from a significant family was told that the children had to come but that he was free to go. He told the soldiers that wherever his children went he would follow them. At the train station the officer in charge recognized the man and again told him he was free to go. The man again said whatever the fate of his children would be his fate as well. Arriving at the camps of extermination, the man led his children in songs of faith and comfort. The commander of the camp made a last appeal to the man to save his life but he refused to abandon his children. The man and his children went into the gas chamber singing songs of praise to God with tears in their eyes.
Same gas chambers but a very different life story controlled the two men. One story was that God had to deliver us from suffering or did not exist and the other trusted God to be with us in the middle of suffering. These different life stories or outlooks on reality made a huge difference in the legacy that was left by the two men. The one story led a man to end his life in despair while the other story helped the man and his children face death with comfort and dignity. The circumstances did not create the story the core beliefs of the two men framed the events and the emotions that came from those events.
So what is the real core story by which you interpret you life? You use this story everyday to interpret every microsecond of your existence. Now you may have several different stories in your head that are in conflict and struggle to be the dominant way we see life.
Some of these could be healthier and others less healthy, Some could be sources of light and healing to you while others create darkness and “soul disease”. You talk to your self daily and in this narrative you interpret your life and that story is what creates your dominant emotional mood.
Now some circumstances would call for deep sorrow. So your interpretive life story has to have a place for legitimate pain, sadness, and frustration.
But our story should not tell us to despair.
The healthy response to really bad events is sadness but not rage towards self, God or reality.
So we need a life story that can allow us to feel the real pain of living “East of Eden” yet not giving up hope. Only such a story deeply embedded into us through self-talk and meditation can help us avoid despair and find a “soul refuge” in which we can find hope.
The Christian world view which speak of creation being made by God to be good, explains our current pain and suffering as caused by our abandonment of paradise for total moral freedom, speaks of God’s love for us in paying for our moral and ethical rebellion through the suffering and death of HIS own SON, and the promise of a restoration of “Eden on steroids” in which we will know joyful union and communion with God and the good results of our pain. This is the Christian story of creation, rebellion, redemption, and restoration. This story assures us that all of our pain will produce gain because of God’s sovereign power to transform grief into redemptive gifts of eternal worth.
This Christian story if taken beyond Sunday morning can become a powerful way to tell our personal story. When God’s story becomes my story then this “light” can have massive healing impact on my understanding of my life and emotional state. How can we make this grand story the dominant story in my head?
1. Intellectual acceptance of the Christian story as really true. The heart will not long maintain what the head rejects.
2. Repetition of the story in times of prayer and meditation privately.
3. Use of ritual to reinforce the story.
4. Living in a community of faith where the people support and endorse the story.
So let us take the first step. Identify the dark stories within your mind and heart that encourage the cold darkness of despair, desperation, and depression. You can only solve a problem that you admit you have and only rewrite a story you know you are telling yourself. Spend some time listening to your interpretation of life and write it out.
Is this the outlook on life that you want to have as the main way you see yourself, God, and others? More to come ….
Here is something to read about how to “Preach the Gospel” to ourselves
Here is some healthy self talk to say to yourself at least three times a day
I am responsible for what I say, do, and my attitude towards life.
No one can make me say, do, or have an attitude, these things are under my control
I am wonderfully made to reflect God’s goodness, greatness, and grace
I have done and said wrong things and accept responsibility for these things
I believe that Christ Jesus died to pay the just price for my wrong things
Christ Jesus was raised from the dead to assure me that my moral debt is paid
I am now in Christ Jesus accepted by God without any condemnation
God is with me and on my side because of Christ Jesus
God has a purpose and plan for my life
I should expect life to be hard “East of Eden”
God will give me the strength I need to get through hard times
There is purpose in all my pain even as there was purpose behind the cross of Christ
God will accomplish HIS good purpose for my life