Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Powerful Reduced to the Insipid

In my own life one of the most powerful phrases ever spoken into it was the phrase, "God loves you."

In the days of the Jesus People, the days when I realized I had spiritual needs that could only be fully met by getting to know God and his son Jesus, "God loves you." pretty much replaced, "Hi! How are you?" as the standard social greeting.

Unfortunately, over the subsequent decades the power behind those words has been diluted through over use, or by losing opportunities to take the meaning behind that phrase to a deeper level of conversation. For people suffering from depression the response to that phrase is likely to be along the lines of, "So what?", or "Whoopee for him.", or "Tell someone who cares."

My husband and I are attempting to get more deeply into what the fact of God's love is supposed to mean in the lives of the people we often meet who are suffering from clinical depression and whose responses would be similar to the ones above. Often depression can be caused, or at least exacerbated by, a loss of a sense of life's purpose. If life is meaningless to someone, the fact that God loves them doesn't necessarily matter much any more.

We have dropped that particular phrase more often than not from our own opening greetings with people who specifically want to talk to us about their depression issues. When talking about God gets going, we are now more likely to talk about God having a purpose for their lives because he loves them and so, what are THEY going to do about that? Yes, God loves them, but their life in God doesn't begin and end with what God has done to reach out to them. Christianity is an interactive faith. God's love provides a basis for action, for discovering life purposes that call for his followers to share that love by helping others....actions that take some focus off our own despair and start us down a path to joyfully helping people in even greater need than ourselves.

The outworkings of  the discovery that God's love gives us purpose and life direction that can help us deal more effectively with our own problems in the process can be complicated, they can take time to break through our depression and sense of meaninglessness, but they are worth exploring. Life can and does have meaning and purpose when it is centered around the kingdom of our loving Heavenly Father.

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