Sometimes life is simply too much to bear.
And sometimes religion, regardless of the kind, can make us feel worse instead of better.
Sunday, I heard a Buddhist monk share about his beliefs. He said there are two steps to becoming enlightened. The first step consists of finding happiness and contentment for yourself at all times. This ability comes from within, not from an outside power. The key is to learn to harness and unleash that power. Wow. That seems like a lot of pressure!
As a Christian, I believe that my ability to do this comes from a higher power…something not of myself.
If you’ve spent any amount of time here on my little blog, you know I am all about discovering the positive in the midst of the chaos of this life. And I’ve admitted, sometimes you have to dig pretty deep to find the silver lining.
There are some circumstances that people have experienced where life is completely overwhelming. No amount of prayer or finding things to be thankful for can overcome the tremendous sense of grief, loss, depression, anxiety, etc., at least for a time.
Always slapping a smile on your face can be dangerous when you’re dying inside. Beating yourself up for your feelings of despair only add guilt to an already full plate of discouragement.
I’ll never forget how my dad dealt with a period of depression during my college years. Years later, we realized it was likely a precursor to his Parkinson’s disease, but we didn’t know what was happening to my usually positive dad at the time. And I distinctly remember my dad feeling terribly guilty. As a believer in the Bible, he felt he should be able to think or pray himself out of his funk, and when he couldn’t he felt even worse.
We often hear this phrase quoted: “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” This phrase is not actually found in the Bible. The idea comes from the verse in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” This verse refers to the idea that we can always say no to what tempts us. There is always a way out, even if it doesn’t seem desirable. Nothing about this scripture says that life won’t at times overtake you.
As I watched my dad’s disease progress, I became even more aware of the reality of how the chemicals in our bodies function. I would watch my dad’s breathing become more rapid, his face would redden, and he would want to crawl out of his skin during random panic attacks triggered by who knows what. My heart was so sad watching him fight the demon of his body that was completely beyond his control.
I’ll say it again. Sometimes life is too much to bear. Our minds can betray us and even completely shut down. We experience true desperation.
King David from biblical times knew this feeling well. In Psalm 13 he says,
“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.”
Friends, you may experience trials that are more than you feel capable of handling. Mentally, you may check out for a time. There may be something chemically happening with your body that requires medication. You may need to visit a therapist for at least awhile to help you get things in perspective. Maybe you even need time away to get yourself back on track. Whatever your situation, don’t feel guilty for struggling, and don’t be afraid to seek help.
I think God knew quite well that life would be too much at times. That’s why he designed us to be in community with one another. And, for me at least, that’s why my faith is so important. Because it gives me hope of so much more than this world has to offer me. When I feel like I cannot cope, I know there is something so much better that awaits me. Sometimes that might be the only diamond to be found.
Photo from Free Images.