Sunday, September 11, 2005
In '97, when I experienced a heart attack, my doctor diagnosed my clinical depression and prescribed medication to help with the symptoms. After a few misses, we hit upon one that seemed to minimize the black cloud that perpetually darkened my world. Claiming to be a clinically depressed Christian seems like an oxymoron, but it is in fact a unique experience. God's unspeakable joy fuses with depression's unspeakable sorrow, producing a sweetened vinegar emotional state. The depression seems to intensify life's experiences, producing something akin to drama's joyful tragedy on one side, and tragic comedy on the other. A statement I heard a few years ago places all this in perspective: "God doesn't make junk." But He also doesn't make mistakes. God has allowed me to experience clinical depression, and the pharmaceutical remedy, for His perfect purpose. Perhaps He did it to give me a basis for empathizing with those who are depressed. Many pastors can't seem to relate to clinical depression because their vocation quickly kills or burns out those who suffer from it, leaving mostly those who see the world through rose-colored spectacles. Anyone trying to council the depressed without the personal experience of being depressed is more likely to exacerbate the problem with such sage council as, "Just get over it," or "Try a little thankfulness." Such advice is like pouring alcohol on a gaping wound. The best "advice" a counselor can give one who is clinically depressed is no advice at all. He can help far more simply by convincing the depressed individual that such feelings are not evil in themselves, but they are the enemy's flaming arrows, intended to penetrate our personal, spiritual and emotional armor. Once depressed Christians fully realize the folly of trying to shake off such attacks without the advantage of wearing God's armor, they can begin the healing process. The depressing, flaming arrows will continue coming, and with more intensity and frequency, but God's armor will protect the spirit and the will, enabling the one under attack to shrug them off and walk on to victory. Praise God for His Armorer!
Saturday, September 03, 2005
The peeve is a prickly beast, and to hold one as a pet can be uncomfortable or even hazardous. Still, at times one must gingerly hold it up for examination. Postmodern believers like to eschew formal, religious jargon as The Language of the Pious. To the user, jargon doesn't have to be understood, just admired. The difference between Christianese and other jargon-infused language is the eternal stakes. Colossians 4:5 enjoins us to use wisdom when dealing with outsiders. If by inflicting Christianese on the unchurched we throw a stumbling block in their way to the Lord, will we not be judged for our disobedience? Wouldn't it be awful to be judged for witnessing foolishly? How does the Father view street preachers who shout Christianese at their audience? Does He reward that pious preacher for the one in a hundred souls who repents and comes to Jesus? Or does He punish that zealot because of the other ninety-nine who perish because they become gospel hardened? We might have to take our responsibility more seriously if judgment were at stake.