Saturday, February 09, 2013

A Slippery Facebook Slope

There is a really annoying trend on Facebook right now.  Well, it's been going on for quite a while, actually.  It's this trend of " 'Like' if you support/believe/hate this cause/religion/company/disease/color/car/WHATEVER and then 'Share' ".  It's getting obnoxious.  I think that it's a given that I don't like cancer.  And I doubt that Jesus is really going to greet me in Heaven and say, "You didn't 'share' me on FB enough.  Here's the 'down' escalator."  Most of the time if I see "Like This" in a status update photo card, I'll just scroll right on over and look for a cat video, but the other day one caught my eye that I found particularly frightening.  It said "LIKE if . . . you believe Jesus can heal depression! 1 Peter 5:6-7"  For me, that is a very dangerous post.  Let's look at why, shall we?

As an aside, I'm assuming that anyone reading this knows that I am a Christian.  I believe that Jesus was God's Son who came to Earth as a man to lead a perfect life so that He could atone for our sins.  I believe that.  I believe the Bible.  I believe in prayer.  However, I do NOT believe that God is a genie waiting to grant all of my requests.  I also suffer from depression.  So I think that I'm a little qualified to write on this subject.

I think that that photo card is the top of what could be a slippery slope.  Yes, I do believe that Jesus can heal depression.  He's capable of doing anything.  WILL He heal MY depression.  Maybe.  But I have to accept the fact that He might not.  Or He might not right away.  Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12: 7b-10 "Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."  God chose NOT to heal Paul.  And He had a reason for it.  We don't know what Paul's "thorn" was, but we know it was significant enough that he wanted it gone.   

God never promised that our road would be easy.  He never promised that we wouldn't get sick or hurt or that we wouldn't go through hard times.  One of my favorite verses is John 16:33.  Jesus spends a lot of time in Chapter 16 encouraging His disciples.  Then in verse 33 He says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  See the first "promise" in there?  "In this world you will have trouble."  The second promise is that He (Jesus) has overcome the world.  He never says that we won't suffer or that we won't feel the effects of the evil in this world.  But He does tell us to take heart because He has triumphed, and we're on His team.

Now, let's look at the passage quoted on the photo card:
1 Peter 5:6-7 (NIV)  Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

In this chapter, Peter is talking to Christians who are scattered across quite a few provinces of Asia Minor.  He's trying to encourage them and remind them of their calling as followers of Christ.  Verses 1-4 talks to older men about leading willingly and humbly serving by example.  Verse 5 exhorts younger men to follow their elders with humility.  Then verses 6-7 talks about how it naturally follows that you should humble yourself before God because He wants the best for you.  Humbling yourself means being open to teaching, it means acknowledging that we don't know it all and that we need help.  When Peter goes on to say "Cast all your anxiety on Him", he's continuing that thought - the idea of submitting to His authority and His leading and His teaching - casting your cares and worries about life at the feet of God and asking for His leading and teaching to get you through them.  He is NOT saying, "Cast your anxiety disorder and clinical depression on Him and He will heal you because He loves you."  And it's very dangerous to imply that it is. God can certainly heal my depression.  I do not doubt that for a minute.  But maybe, just maybe He won't.  Maybe the only thing He will do is help me deal with it.  Maybe He will bring others into my life to help me deal with it.  Maybe He will use modern medicine to keep it at bay.  He will answer my prayers concerning my depression, but He may not answer them the way I want Him to.  He may say, "No." 

In the past, I have been very, very depressed.  I have been in a dark pit feeling alone and forgotten.  And I have been told, while in that pit, that I should "spend more time in the Bible".  I've been asked, by well-meaning friends, "Have you prayed about it?  Have you TRULY given it over to God?"  It's hard to articulate how this made me feel.  I had done all of that - prayed, read, prayed some more, lather, rinse, repeat.  But I felt nothing.  Was God turning His back on me?  Yes, someone's mother's cousin's son's girlfriend's step brother was healed instantly when he prayed 1 Peter 5:7, why wasn't I?  Did I need to DO anything else?  Did I need to turn around three times?  Click my heels together?  Did I need to write down all my anxieties on a piece of paper and burn it as a figurative gesture?  What did I need to do?  I was willing to do all of the steps, JUST MAKE IT GO AWAY!!!!   At some point, when none of the spiritual things were working, I was able to pull my way through the fog to try an "earthly" solution.  I went to my doctor.  It kind of felt like I had abandoned my faith.  But at that point, I felt that God was being silent and not helping me so I should just try to help myself.  In reality and in hindsight, I believe that it really was God leading me to the way He was going to help me.

I am blessed that I have a Christian physician and a Christian counselor.  They have both encouraged me to not only read the Bible and pray, but to GET HELP FROM QUALIFIED PROFESSIONALS.  They both reminded me that God created people who are called to help others.  God created physicians and counselors and researchers and medications.  And that's how He chooses to heal some people. 
Or, I should say, HELP some people. 

I'm not healed.  I just have it under control.  It could be that at some point in the future I can go off of my medication and be fine.  I've tried to go off of it three times and have wound up back on it.  I'm perfectly fine with taking one small pill a day to be able to function.  Were I diabetic, I would have no problem taking insulin.  There's really no difference in my mind.  Would I tell a diabetic to forgo their insulin injections and pray more or read their Bible more instead?  I don't think anyone would. 

So please, well meaning Facebook photo card creators, please think before you create and post another one of those potentially hurtful cards.  If you must post a photo card about depression, post a number for a depression hotline or a depression help website. 

Better yet, if you must post something asking for a re-post, post this (and yes, I did make it my status update for a day):

Put this as your status if you know or are related to someone killed on Alderaan when it was obliterated by the Death Star. My wish is that people will understand that the Empire is a band of murdering scum. The Rebel Alliance wants to bring peace to the galaxy, but the Galactic Empire continues to kill innocent civilians. 93% won't copy/paste this.  Will YOU make this your status for at least one hour?

1 comment:

Liz of said...

Thank you for saying this! I totally agree. The other day, for a split second, I felt guilty for not sharing a photo of Jesus. Then I was like Um No. I think all the YouVersion verses I tweet should cover me. lol