Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The church and depression

The recent news of Rick Warren's son committing suicide has not only rocked people individually, but the church as well.  I've written extensively on here about my own journey with depression and my spiritual thoughts about mental illness.  I'm certainly not saying every person having a bad day needs dragged to the altar for a splash of oil and a low key exorcism, but I am saying as the church we have got to get better at helping struggling people.  

Rick mentions in his letter to his church family that his son had everything possible available  for healing physically, mentally, financially, and spiritually.  He lived at least ten years longer than he wanted to and still last weekend he killed himself.  He died.  He's no longer here and if you want my two cents - he's in Heaven.

Check back later this week for my blog post How to go to Hell and stay there.  For now I'll say it's not up to us to assume everyone who commits suicide goes to Hell.  I happen to think God understands suffering much better than we do.  

Trust me on this - you can love God with everything you have and still not want to be here another second.  Even a soul saved by grace has a dark night sometimes.  And often that darkness lingers.   Despair is exhausting.

People don't have to be throwing themselves off a bridge to be dying.

And the Warren family tragedy is proof that the church can't save everyone from ending their life, or suffering, or feeling hopeless.  But, as a church we can be there and we can do better.  We can show up.  We can be in community enough to know how people are doing.  And how they're doing really.

Having all the answers is never a requirement for helping.  If you have hands then you can hold someone else.  If you have ears you can listen.  And if you have a heart you can help.  People would much rather hear, "I'm so sorry," than a 12 step solution for feeling better by Friday anyway.

As for eternal life, that's not up to us.  I like to think God picks up the bottle of tears to overflowing and feels the hurt.  He senses pain before we do.  He knows when hearts are broken and the repairs aren't holding.  He knows.

I echo the sentiment of Ruth Graham today who said, "When a believer takes their own life, God hasn't called them home, but He welcomes them home."



TeaMouse said...

I agree 100%, our daughter struggles so hard with this. I pray it never comes to suicide, but a part of me always worries it will. I know God will not punish them, I love that statement that he hasn't called them home but welcomed them anyway. A person doesn't do this I less they are I'll in some way. I think we need to start talking about it, it has been taboo for so many years and only comes up when someone takes their life. I know we feel alone most of the time even from family, the struggle with mental illness is hard and lonely. We are doing our very best to be there for our daughter.

imfunnytoo said...

first time reader of your blog, and I have to say, I just love the sentiment

Rob said...

Lately, folks have been sharing life stories at church, and it got me thinking "Wow there are a lot of damaged people here."

You can't just tell someone suffering from arthritis, or cancer, or AIDs to just feel better, you can't just tell an alcoholic to just stop drinking (well, you can, but it's pretty ineffective) and you can't just tell someone with depression to cheer up.

Damaged people are US, not just others. And what better place to find damaged people than in a church. Damaged people seeking support and love and care.

Damaged people are not less than the rest; we are as good as the rest; just living with different life circumstances.

I think I rambled a bit. What I really mean to say is, "Yea, and Amen!"


Cura Animarum said...

Hardest thing in the world we have ever dealt with. Seems sometimes that, just because no one knows how to 'fix it' they would rather pretend it isn't there. The Warrens' tragedy just hit WAY too close to home and filled my heart with such fear. We've started talking about it more to the people we know, but even that's so hard to do...being so publicly weak and broken. I think sometimes we need to have little tags we can hand out in the church that we could put on when we come in 'Having a rough time...could sure use a hug'. Seriously, sometimes it feels that the only thing that helps is a well-timed hug.