When the Lights Go Out: Part 2

Posted: February 29, 2020 in Meditations


man in black shirt and gray denim pants sitting on gray padded bench

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“Disappointment, things should be better than they are: people should be better than they are, my job should be better than it is, my finances should be better, my health should be better. ” Pastor Russ Walker paused, then continued, “Why don’t I feel better? I can’t find my way out. Courtney, my wife, was likewise crushed in this painful depression. We sought help, we desperately needed help. How bad was it? Courtney said, ‘I haven’t felt this bad in forty-two years since I took the noose off of my mother’s neck.’ ” The church went absolutely silent. Russ fought to keep his composure. “How did we get here?”

Life happens. A beautiful young man named Ryan enters the terrifying realm of voices and paranoia at age 17. At age 20, Mama finds him dangling at the end of a cinched belt in their basement. Jeannie and her children lived a prosperous life, her husband a generous philanthropist and successful businessman. The law exposes her husband as a scam artist, a predator, a small version of Bernie Madoff. He goes to prison, Jeannie and the kids settle into a rental, she finds work and a new life must rise from the ashes. My grandmother held two different children in her arms, lifeless. Addictions, immorality, violent abuse: the list is endless. Every one of us has been touched by this violent sinful world, some of us brutally overwhelmed by it. “What then?”

In 2005, I fell 26 feet off of a roof gable, landed on the back of my shoulders and head. Twelve staples closed up the superficial wound. The real damage grew within my brain. Five years into a downward spiral, I laid in my bed, tears trickled down my cheeks. I prayed, “Lord let my life get a little bit bigger than it was yesterday.” That was my version of Job’s cry, “Though you slay me, yet will I hope in you.” The fall robbed me of my work and my health. The brain injury destroyed my ability to sleep, perhaps the worst nightmare of all. Neurologists mixed drug cocktails to bring relief. Stupors, seizures, paranoid delusions attacked my life sphere. My wife, my kids: all were traumatized. ‘Is Dad dying?”

“He who unites himself with the Lord is one with the Spirit.”  1Corinthians 6:17  In my darkest hour, I always knew one thing, God is real and he is here. Depression, for me at its worst, left me dead to my emotions. Pain was a dull shroud that walled me off from hope and joy, clouded my judgment, prevented any clarity of reason. I clung to the basics, created by and for God. I never stopped praying. I felt great shame with others. Asides and retorts hurt deeply. Friends of my wife told her, “Leave him.” Was I worthless, was I a weight on the well-being of my family? Were others better off without me? I met with a psychiatrist every month, I took antidepressants. I lost confidence in myself, I didn’t trust myself. The delusions took advantage of my religious fervor. How could I go forward not knowing if I was insane or sane at any given moment? “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.”  Psam 23:4  I repeated that verse over and over again. But I clung to that last verse of that Psalm most of all, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  Psalm 23:6  “You are not your own; you were bought with a price.”  1 Corinthians 6:20  No matter what, I belonged to God. If I lost family, my friends, my sanity – one thing remained, I belonged to God.

I will continue my story next essay. Folks, with God all things are possible, no matter what. With God, I offer hope, joy, peace, real freedom. Don’t give up, don’t ever give up. Desperate faith is an awesome act. When Jesus is all you have, Jesus is all you need. “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”  Deuteronomy 31:6  God is faithful. Be bold, in the end, Christ is all that matters.

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