For 10 March 2020: Second Tuesday in Lent
For Tuesday, 10 March 2020: The Second Tuesday of Lent
The day didn’t start with sun and that early Spring glow. Rather it began with a grey sky and long shadows. It was a grey, bleak landscape. The bleakness is deceiving; it seems as if God is not present in such a grey, shadowy place. Sometimes, we experience life with that same type of bleakness of a grey, late-winter morning. It was as if the day began “blue.”
My first understanding of depression was from reading The Elephant Man, a novel by Christine Sparks. In the novel, John Merrick, the Elephant Man, found great comfort in Lamentations 3. In many ways, Lamentations 3 mirrored Mr. Merrick’s own life. However, it is at the 21st verse when a shift happens. Something different is seen and understood: “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: …” (Lamentations 3:21 NRSV). What is it that is called to mind? “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, …” (Lamentations 3:22a NRSV). In a place of despair, the author remembers God’s love and the weight of despair isn’t so difficult.
Don’t misunderstand, there is a need for proper care for folks with mental illness including depression. Spiritual understandings and insights will not cure mental illness. Spiritual insights and understanding may go a long way toward mental health and well-being, but they are no substitute for proper therapy and medical care when there is a mental illness. Spiritual insights, practices, and understandings can help us keep a healthy balance in our lives. The spiritual insights, practices, and understandings are tools to help us on our spiritual journey not ends in and of themselves.
I think the reason Lamentations 3 was powerful for Mr. Merrick was that the voice of the author turns from despair to hope. Feeling hopeless is one of the most devastating experiences anyone can have. It is as if all your dreams have shattered like a broken mirror on the floor. It is as if joy has left your life completely. It is as if trust and faith are replaced with doubt, fear, and or anger. We have lost sight of hope.
The day which began bleak turned sunny. The grey clouds lifted, and the sun shone brightly. Sometimes we simply need to be patient. We need to wait for the clouds to pass. Sometimes we need to be patient with the ones who are caught under those grey clouds. We need to share an umbrella with them. Life in Christ is made so much richer when we walk the road together even when we or the one we are with is struggling. Sometimes we see the struggles and sometimes they are hidden from our vision. No matter the circumstance we are called to walk along side each other. We are to be the sign of hope to each other and to remind each other of God’s love for us.