For the past year of my life I have been really trying to explore what actually "being" the church is. I have been disheartened by many things that I have seen happening within the church. I have also had many talks with my non-Christian friends about their views of Christians & the church in general. It has saddened me to hear some of their observations & see a lot of truth in them. It is so easy to get so caught up in our own little Christian world that we lose sight of those, literally right beside us, that are hurting & in pain & we as Christians & as a church are doing nothing about it. Because of what we have recently gone through Joel & I now have such hearts for people going through illness & the emotional issues that accompany that. For me, even more intimately that emotional issue would be depression. I have never understood depression until this last year. I thought it was something you could "snap out of". I didn't understand it could be something that can appear so suddenly & enfold you so completely that you feel like the pain will never end. You lose your sense of hope. I believe that it was God & God alone that was able to get me through my time of despair & that He held me close & did not allow me to sink any deeper into it than I easily could have. I have caught a small glimpse but I saw enough to know that it's real & it is a very difficult thing to overcome. I say all that to say that there are people that surround us every day that are depressed, hopeless & hurting. For those of us that call ourselves Christians what do we do about it? Do we even care? Do we even notice?This Friday morning, the day after Thanksgiving, after a long battle with depression, my brothers best friend took his own life. Today I was able to see the last blog that he wrote the day before his death. I have attached it below:
"Today a customer preached to me. This is what I would like to say to him,
Thank you for caring enough about my eternal soul to take the time to witness to me while I was working in a retail store. I can honestly appreciate that you non-violently have the courage to share your convictions with other human beings. I am sure some people may not look kindly on you for it, and that others may simple ridicule you. I really do think the Bible Belt needs more people like you though. There are people who triumphantly wear Christendom on their sleeve and constantly bemoan their perception of a culture in degradation. But you sir were by all appearances kind, humble, and sincere. There are people who speak of faith with confidence from the pulpit, but would never stoop to proclaiming the good news from the street corner. There are those who will wear their Christendom as a badge of self-righteousness ready to condemn and go so far as to legislate against all the societal evils they perceive; but will they have the courage to speak from sincere conviction to the stranger they meet in the public square? How many run about with beams in their eyes trying to gouge the specks out of their neighbor's eye, dismissing "judge not lest ye be judged", whilst being too shameful to proclaim the good news? How many find it so easy to point the finger, casting the first stones - and yet find it so difficult to share the hope within themselves?"
Apparently a man came into the sporting goods store where he worked & witnessed to him. He still had questions about faith that he wrestled with & I don't even know that he rectified those questions before his death. I do know that he was impressed enough with this man to write about him. Did that moment change his heart before he died? I won't ever know. This man had no way of knowing that in less than 48 hours the young man that he was witnessing to would take his own life. Sometimes the person in the home or cubical next to us is at the end of their rope & we never know what the smallest gesture can do for them. Reading his words have cut me to my core. It has caused me to reevaluate how I look at every person beside me. We get so consumed with ourselves on a daily basis. We are ignoring others around us in a pain so deep that they are willing to end their life rather than live with that pain. We won't have another chance with my brothers friend. You may not have another chance with the waitress at your table or with a loved one. This is life & this is death people. It's easy to forget that sometimes or to want to forget-but it's not that easy. When Jesus walked this earth He sought out the lost & the hopeless. We are His hands, His feet, & His voice. What my brothers friend was asking is simple. If we have the greatest hope & the greatest gift in our lives-why wouldn't we want to share that with others? My prayer is for my heart to be absolutely broken for the things that break the heart of God. May I not be so consumed with myself that I am immune to the needs of others around me. I know that there is an urgency in this post & that it's unlike all of my other ones. I am not trying to guilt anyone into doing anything. These are questions I have asked of myself & I ask them of you. Because, believe me, it's the same questions that non-believers are asking about Christians. In this coming holiday season it's even more important. We've been given the most amazing gift-why don't we share it? We have a hope that can heal us from pain & depression-why don't we tell others? We know a God of miracles, who heals who loves & restores-are we passing on that love to others? If not-why not today? Tomorrow might be too late.