- Published: Thursday, 03 July 2014 06:53
Not too long ago, a church in the northern part of the country was struck with a double tragedy.
Two of her members, within a short space of ten months, succumbed to depression and committed suicide by hanging. Their sudden and unexpected passing, and the tragic manner of their deaths, left many friends and church members grieving and bleeding with aching hearts and the inevitable questions.
"What were their minds thinking; their final thoughts, even as they made their irreversible decisions?" "Where did their dark thoughts of death come from, and why couldn't they resist them?" "Why didn't God stop them from taking such a deadly step?"
For the family members and friends who came to grieve and bid their deceased friends goodbye, these were questions for which full answers will not be forthcoming this side of heaven.
A more important question though, is whether the Church, the Body of Christ, realizes and is waking up to the sinister pervasiveness of mental illness, and the urgent need to address the situation?
Already, the World Health Organization (WHO) had warned, as far back as 2009, that if little is done to arrest the alarming trend, Depression would become the second most threatening disability by the year 2020. And in many of these cases, the ultimate consequence is loss of life by suicide.
Depression recognizes no one and spares no one: celebrities, politicians, doctors, even Christian leaders and pastors. A whole people and a whole nation can come under its sinister shadow.
In Korea, the spate of suicides in recent years—some involving very high profile personalities—were so disturbing and unnerving that it prompted the government to set up a suicide alert or suicide watch throughout the country. It was observed that the suicides of these high profile personalities had the adverse effect of triggering waves of "copycat" suicides.
In May 2009, the whole world was stunned when its ex-President, Roh Moo-Hyun, leapt to his death off a cliff near his village-home. At that time, he was under tremendous pressure arising from intense investigation by the authorities over allegations of corruption while in office. Prior to his fatal act, there had already been a high incidence of celebrity suicides.
Depression, as a mental illness, is dark and complex. An author, who survived several attempted suicides, offers this understanding as to its causes: "It's a complex confusion of the past and present, the twists and turns of the mind through a lifetime....."
A local newspaper writeup on the subject had this understanding to offer:
"Suicidal thoughts are involuntary. You don't choose to think or have them. They come into your mind on their own. They push and compel and drive you towards suicide. Some people who have attempted suicide say these thoughts are like a malignant entity taking over their lives."
There is hope, however, for those in depression. The Father of mercies and the God of comfort seeks to comfort us in all our trials and tribulations. Beyond the comfort is the brighter hope of healing. On the Cross Jesus paid the full price for all of humanity's sin, sickness and frailty. Every provision had been made for our healing and restoration.
To say that there is no healing for depression and other illnesses, is to make a mockery of the Cross, and to downplay the efficacious work of our Saviour Jesus. (See Isaiah 53). Every curse and consequence that sin and iniquity introduced to destroy humanity, God in Jesus Christ reversed. It is a done deed, but we need nonetheless to appropriate the benefits of the Cross of Christ for ourselves.
There are not short-cuts to healing from depression. It actually calls for a lengthy, demanding process of undoing a lot of accummulated mental and emotional damage. And there is a necessary price to pay for healing.
"You ask for help and they stuff you with pills. They won't listen because you need a million hours. You need a million hugs. You need a million words of reassurances. These you cannot have, for the world is busy with its own life and importance. The reality is that you are what the world might call 'mentally ill'. And that really hurts. It hurts like hell. People who make out that there are simple answers are wrong, and their cliche-ridden talk drives you further into depression." (Sue Atkinson, author).
How about a million prayers; prayers for the mentally tormented and suffering? Can the church of Jesus Christ rise up to the call? Should we not be angry enough that precious lives are being snuffed out unnecessarily and prematurely?
It will not be easy to get past the grief. God is shouting. It should not need more unnecessary deaths by suicide before we finally wake up!