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Depressed world

September 16, 2019 - Monday 4:09 AM by JD Vergara

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Another young pastor in America took his own life a couple of days ago and this adds up to the rising number of suicide not just in the US but around the world. His name was Jarrid Wilson, associate pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship who also founded a ministry helping those struggling with depression. The following are his last words on Twitter:

“Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure suicidal thoughts…Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure depression. Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure PTSD. Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure anxiety. But that doesn’t mean Jesus doesn’t offer us companionship and comfort. He ALWAYS does that.”

It has to be noted that the undocumented suicide cases may give us a horrifying picture of this psychological epidemic. Last week as I was waiting for my turn in a barbershop, I watched a TV Patrol news program about a young girl, 13 years of age, who took her own life. She revealed in her suicide note the reason for her suicide: extreme sadness over her helplessness to help her parents’ financial woes. On the morning of her suicide, her mother observed her distinct calmness and apparent industry in cleaning their house.

Why is the world depressed? According to some reports, suicide now is a “growing public health crisis” and is considered as a “second leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 34.” Also in 2017, it was reported that more than 47,000 people died by suicide, which is about one person every 11 minutes. There is obviously something wrong with our way of life today. Technology has connected us virtually and made the world a unified whole, and yet we are suffering from this psychological malady of depression.

Despite the ease of travel and the abundance of wealth and pleasure, people are growing lonelier and sadder by the day. As sensual gratification becomes instantaneous, mental integrity seems to be more elusive. A number are taking refuge in the usual vices such as alcohol and drug addiction. Hence there is a massive buildup in these areas as well which is more pronounced in Western societies.

Of course today depression is diagnosed as a mental illness. With this recent view on suicide, the religious belief that those who committed it goes straight to hell is challenged. And Jarried Wilson argued that depression as mental illness is no different from cancer which can cause death: “The reality is, you wouldn’t dare say that someone who died of cancer is going to hell just because of their illness would you? …Then please don’t assume someone who died of suicide via severe depression is going to hell either. Both are illnesses. Both can lead to death.”

Depression, however, has been around since ancient times. We know of Nebuchadnessar who succumbed to insanity after a night of drunken revelry. We also know of king Saul of ancient Israel who was driven mad by the thought of losing his kingdom to a rising popular warrior in the person of David. It was thought that a demon was tormenting him. David was hired to play harp in order to soothe Saul’s depressive attacks. The engagement came to an abrupt end as Saul tried to pin David to the wall by a heavy spear.

Perhaps this may just be a passing ripple and that later humanity would hurdle this by its adaptive capacity. Hopefully. Our usual approaches to problems seem to fall flat on their faces. Hence I cannot make a case out of my faith in Christ as an effective antidote to depression. At least Jarrid Wilson’s case would not let me. Despite this barrier, however, I would still make this approach. Chris Rice’s song captures what I would say on this matter:

“Sometimes the way is lonely

And steep and filled with pain

So if your sky is dark and pours the rain, then

Cry to Jesus

Cry to Jesus

Cry to Jesus and live!”