Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Reason for Hope

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?...

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8: 35 & 37-39 NIV)

Neither financial struggles nor recession, neither mid-life crisis nor identity crisis, neither stress nor insomnia, neither your job nor your family, not illness, not accidents, not drugs and alcohol, not sexual identity, not suffering physical abuse, nor sexual abuse, not emotional or mental abuse, not depression, not anxiety, not anger, not even suicide.

That's right. You read it.

Recently my brother-in-law took his own life. He had suffered from alcoholism for decades. He'd been through rehab/recovery programs something like five times in the last 12 years. He'd been hospitalized and treated for depression, both with traditional counseling/therapy and medication. Mind you, I'm not excusing or condoning his decision, but I also recognize that mental illness is no less an illness than MS or Lou Gehrig's Disease, or Leukemia. And I know that my brother-in-law knew Jesus and loved Jesus and felt broken and like there was no escape and no cure. Others might accuse him of not having enough faith, that he just needed to trust God more. He knew he lacked faith, if he had had hope he would still be here.

My pastor offered us a beautiful quote from Martin Luther, "I am not inclined to think that those who take their own lives are surely damned. My reason is that they do not do this of their own accord but are overcome by the power of the devil, like a man who is murdered by a robber in the woods."

So, just like the loved ones of someone who's suffered from any other terminal illness for years, I know that now at last, his suffering is over. He is safe in his Savior's arms, cured and forgiven.

He very well may have felt that he was giving up on God, but God did not give up on him.

NOTHING can separate us from the love of God. Even in our deepest despair, even in our grieving, there is still hope.

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