Rebecca Hamilton is a former pro-abortion activist and leader. As the Oklahoma Director of NARAL, she helped establish the first abortion clinic in Oklahoma, and she continued her activism after being elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives. After experiencing a profound conversion to Christ, voters returned her to office as a pro-life Democrat and she spent twelve years defending life and families in the Oklahoma Legislature. Rebecca left her political career in 2014, and along with the National Catholic Register, she writes at Patheos on her blog Public Catholic.
I’m still waiting for pathology results from my biopsy last week. In the meantime, I want to address an issue raised by one of the commenters to my last post.
This individual wrote that they wanted to die and asked if wanting to die, even praying to die, was a sin. I don’t know the person who wrote this. I can’t tell from those few words if they are truly in despair or just writing something in a combox to get a response.
What I do know is that all people go through times of pain and sorrow, and that some people have things that happen to them that wound them so deeply that getting past it is beyond their mere human devices. I also know that some people suffer from depression that is so black that they can’t see through it.
All of this is suffering. It is not uncommon for a person to go through a time when death seems easier and preferable to living. Their life itself can be the cross they have to carry.
What, in the economy of a loving God, does any of this mean? People who live their lives without Christ, including some go-it-alone Christians, must make their way through this suffering without meaning or help beyond what little bits and pieces of counseling and medications are available to us.
I am not in any way saying that medications cannot help. They do help. They can be gifts. They are directed at the physical/chemical causes of depression and other emotional/mental illnesses. Therapy and counseling can also help, especially for people who are not suffering from a true mental illness, but are, rather, trying to heal from traumas and dysfunctional family situations of various sorts.
Other help is available for people who suffer alcoholism or drug addiction. Alcoholics Anonymous works. I’ve seen it work. And it is entirely free and readily available. All you have to do is sincerely want to get well and be willing to work the program.
I strongly advise anyone who is suffering from depression, PTSD or addiction to take advantage of the help that is there for them in the professional world. Find a good therapist (which might require a bit of research, as all therapists are not equal), take anti-depressants or other medications if you need them — and by all means, if you are suffering with drug or alcohol addiction, go to a 12-step program, attend daily meetings and work the program.
But don’t expect materialistic treatments to cure spiritual illness. You are not just a biological mechanism. You are a living soul. Jesus said that God knows and cares about the tiniest details of you and your life. He even is aware of each individual hair on your head.
You matter. Your life matters. Because you matter to Him.
Nothing that happens to you, and nothing that you do is trivial and meaningless in His sight. Your time in this life has eternal meaning because you are an eternal being. Your life, your living, is, in and of itself, eternity work.
Your suffering and despair are not meaningless pain that you have to endure like a wounded ox. They are your cross. They present your with opportunities of eternal dimensions.
Depression and despair can blind you to this. The humiliated rage of certain traumas can block awareness so that you cannot feel or hear God.
But He is still there. You are just so caught in your pain that you can’t feel anything else, including His presence. In times like this, you can know that He is there and trust in Him, even if you can’t feel Him.
Just know it. In time, the fog of your personal war will lift a bit and you will realize that you were in His presence the whole time.
Do not waste your suffering by just enduring it. Do not relegate it or yourself to the netherworld of meaninglessness that has become the true zeitgeist of our times. This meaningless nihilism is a lie. It is a conceit created by angry lost people who will not see the truth when it is right in front of them.
Offer up your suffering for the conversion of sinners and for those who are in Purgatory. Unite your suffering with the sufferings of our Savior, and they will become your own personal redemptive offering to the world.
From what I’ve seen in the comboxes — and I am not talking about the person who wrote the comment that I reference at the beginning of this discussion — a good many Christians have fallen headfirst down the rabbit hole of nihilism, right along with their unbelieving friends and neighbors. They do a lot of talking about Christ, usually in relation to how holy their political viewpoints are and how utterly damned people with other political viewpoints must be. But, for all their religiosity and talk-talk, they do not behave as if they really believe that Jesus exists.
Their religion is a little-c “christianity” without the Cross and without Christ. They follow a little-g “god” who seems to exist in their imaginings only to punish and damn other people. From what I’ve read, they have no interest in converting anyone, and in fact rejoice at the idea that those they dislike are going to hell.
This is a meaningless, Christ-less, Cross-less faux Christianity that will not hold in the tough times. It has nothing to do with God. It does not offer redemption because it is based on lies, self-lies, self-righteousness, false gods and a kind of bitter idolatry. It is not worship. It is an expression of inner rage and deep, personal woundedness. Rather than following Christ, it seeks to use Him as an excuse for raging, ranting, hating and hurting.
A lot of what I write is my own weak attempt to call these lost souls home. I keep trying and trying to tell them that they are ingesting stones instead of bread, bringing home serpents for spiritual food instead of fish.
I know that this anger is pain and depression, guilt and shame, woundedness and fear turned wrong side out in an attempt to disguise it. All this rage is fear of your own vulnerability. It is an attempt to take control of what you can never control, which is life itself.
There is no safety in anger, no healing in hate. They will not defend you from being a vulnerable and fragile human being who can be crushed by life in a single blow. Rageful self-righteousness will not give meaning and hope to your existence. Depression, whether it reaches the point that you long for death, or gets gnarled up in anger so that you long for other people to die, does not heal or answer the deep spiritual wounds that living in these times inflict on people.
Divorce, sexual depravity, constant lying, murder, rape, war, senseless murder, drug abuse, alcoholism, theft, desperate clinging to jobs, and — worst of all — lack of meaning, are the batterers of the entire population in these times. We are flogged hourly by constant news media that is hyping, manipulating and emotionally battering us in order to use us. Our lives are a pressure cooker, and we are adrift a world of destroyed families and no emotional home.
Anger, depression, anomie, resentment, self-righteousness, false gods, and blustering denial of what we don’t want to see are all examples of the how we try to deal with what we cannot, in fact, deal with. We cannot cure these things, and we cannot heal the wounds they inflict on us.
There is a cure and it is a sure an absolute cure. We need Christ and Him crucified. We need the Cross. We need forgiveness, and we need to forgive.
Jesus said that before we try to heal others of their sins, we need to first acknowledge and heal from our own sins. He told us over and over again that we must forgive others. He also told us that He was the Way.
I have a secret to tell you.
It’s all true.
All that stuff in the Bible — the Cross, the virgin birth, the resurrection, the walking on water, eating with sinners, raising the dead, giving sight to the blind, and offering us eternal life — is true. It happened. It is real.
God is real. Jesus Christ is our Savior. We can be forgiven and washed clean. He is here with us now, in this time. He will help you and lead you. He gives purpose and meaning to your life, and to the pits and stains, scabs and scars that you have acquired living this life.
He knows in a personal I’ve-been-there way, what you are suffering. He lived in a conquered nation, in a working class family. He knows what it’s like to earn a living, suffer unjustly, be abandoned. He also knows what it’s like to love, live and rejoice in being alive. I have no doubt that Jesus suffered agony on the Cross. I also have no doubt that he danced at the wedding at Cana.
Jesus understands. He knows. And He is God.
You are not a biological entity that simply breathes, eats, produces young of your kind, dies and rots. That is the lie of those who fear the consequences of belief. It is the zeitgeist of our times; the nihilistic lie that we are meaningless, purposeless entities and that nothing we do matters.
The truth is that everything we do matters. Our lives have meaning of eternal scope. God is infinite. We are finite. He is transcendence. We are mortal.
But through Him, through the Way that He is, we transcend this life while we are in it. We can experience a touch of the infinite now, before we go on to the true Infinite. All we have to do is, in the words of Scripture, “Cease striving and know that I am God.”
Stop playing god and start following God. Stop rejoicing in the thought that a lot of people in today’s world are heading to hell, and get to work converting them. Stop shielding yourself with anger, rage, self-righteousness and false gods of your own devising and open your vulnerabilities to Him.
Help is there. It is available. All you have to do is ask.
I know this. I know it. Because I have lived it, and you can too.