bluerbluebluesky asked a question:
Hey JS it’s been a while, hope you’re well and congrats on your marriage (and your new books). Please bear with me, it’s weird writing in being removed from Christianity, but you really do seem like a genuine and real guy and I had really appreciated your words before. How do you stay confident in a good God when He has “fearfully and wonderfully” made you with depression? I can’t understand why He’d watch His kids live with chronic unbalanced neurochemicals that make them suicidal. Thanks JS
Hey dear friend, I appreciate your very kind words and I’m thankful for your honest challenging question.
I think there are really two ways to look at this. One is that God created everything in history, including death and disease and disasters, as a big ball of yarn that will one day be un-done by His glory. The other is that God created a perfect world of perfect yarn, but it became frayed when sin and death entered the picture and we now live within the stream of a disarrayed universe, which will be re-done by His glory. (If you’re a doctrine-nerd, the first view is called “supralapsarianism” and the second is “infralapsarianism.”)
The problem with the first view is that it assumes God is the author of evil and tragedy. The problem with the second view is that it assumes God is out of control somehow, as if He didn’t see this coming. It’s hard to reconcile either idea, and both of them have good points while bringing up tons of troubling questions.
As a fellow fighter of depression, this is personal for me, too. And I can only try to balance it right down the middle. I believe I wasn’t made with depression. I don’t think we were meant to be sick or starving or dead. And at the same time, I believe God is the author and He’s totally in control. I don’t know how both of these things can be true, but it’s beyond me to understand. My three pound brain is allergic to paradoxes and it might catch fire if I figured it out. So I live within the tension of a fallen imperfect world and a perfectly loving God.
What I won’t do is moralize or spiritualize any of this to say that “pain is a lesson” or that God gives everyone a “wonderful plan for your life.” I don’t know why such evil exists. I think it scares some Christians to say “I don’t know,” but I can’t pretend to draw lines between my depression and some epiphany. Our pain is going to be bad, and there’s nothing else I can do but let it bleed sometimes and let it be part of our story.
I can be certain of one thing.
When I’m hurting, God is hurting with me. God is just as mad as you are about the pain in this world. He was so mad, in fact, that at one point in our history in a sand-swept city of blood and retaliation, He entered our pain, side-by-side and face-to-face, and died for me. For you, too. He suffered not only for us, but with us, and jump-started a healing in a tomb as a glimpse of the glory for where we’re headed.
I can either believe all this pain is pointless, or that all this pain will one day be rectified and compensated. It’s not easy to believe the better story. It feels crazy sometimes. I still have a lot of questions, and I’m going to ask Him every single one. But my hope is a future-memory of everything set right by a glorious God who has already answered our hurt in a cross and has healed every wound in a tomb.
The thing is, I do see glimpses of healing today. Even when my depression is so heavy I can hardly see, it’s undeniable that knowing I am loved permanently by a cosmic constancy is the one thought that pulls me through another horrible day. The hurt is still there, but beauty is louder. His glory out-shines my suffering. Of course, I do believe that medicine is acceptable and we need community and counseling and therapy. Yet if I were completely healed today, I would still need to know what all this is for. I would still have to tap into the pulse of divinity to do something with my limited time on earth. And maybe some of that is to let other people know, You’re loved, no matter what’s happening. If you’re hurting, I’ll hurt too. Jesus did this for us, and I’ll do it for you.
15 thoughts on “Why Did God Make Me This Way?”
Reblogged this on Losing My Religion: Towards Belief That Matters, In Matters Of Belief and commented:
Two quick thoughts,,,okay, no…3.
1) Thank God somebody else feels split down the middle on “supralapsarianism” and “infralapsarianism”, even if it *is* 6:45 in the morning! I mean, refreshing to read that someone who I believe thinks well about Christian thought isn’t dogmatically anchored to either place, though I don’t think ill of those who are committed to one conclusion or the other.
2) Hooray! I’m right there with you that depression sucks, that there are no magic answers for Christians who live with a mental health dx, but that God IS RIGHT THERE, hurting alongside us.
3) J.S. Park rocks!
Thanks for sharing, dear friend! I find myself leaning towards infralapsarianism often, but realize the pros and cons of both sides. Appreciate your thoughts!
“He was so mad, in fact, that at one point in history in a sand-swept city of blood and retaliation, He entered our pain, side-by-side and face-to-face, and died for me.”
I’ve never heard it defined this way. What a tasty morsel!
Thank you for your kind words !
Reblogged this on hiddenbeloved.
Reblogged this on A Glass, Darkly.
Reblogged this on James' Ramblings.
I love paradoxes. I take great joy when something about God is shown as an unexplicable paradox. Our God is the God of paradoxes, who though being God was also man.
Paradoxes, by nature, are impossibilities, and I know that the only resolution for an impossible problem is a God who can do the impossible. In the tension created by the paradox, we come to the place where we need to trust God.
Yes, I learned of “antinomies” in seminary, which are like paradoxes, but have a transcendent kind of reconciliation. That tension is real, but it’s where we live.
Hello JS and thank you for this thoughtful response. I am with you 100% in the way you describe the difficulty as well as the joy of learning how to navigate that narrow ledge between the two sides of seeing God at work in our lives. I appreciate what you said to this person and I pray that they will be able to find their way more clearly now.
Thank you, dear friend. Appreciate your encouragement and I know we’re all still learning to navigate the narrow ledge, as you said. Here’s to continuing the good fight.
Reblogged this on Oh to be broken and then redeemed.
“Even when my depression is so heavy I can hardly see, it’s undeniable that knowing I am loved permanently by a cosmic constancy is the one thought that pulls me through another horrible day. The hurt is still there, but beauty is louder. His glory out-shines my suffering. ”
Such a comfort. Your insights go straight to my heart and encourage me in a way that reminds me of the love Christ has for me.
It does baffle me, though, when you use the word cosmic, because it’s often used by New Agers and others in conjunction with The Universe to indicate our ability to get anything we want by visualization, focus, desire, etc. “God” is an energy force we can tap into.
I know that’s not what you mean, but can you please explain?
Thank you. I love your writing.
Thank you! And yes, I think the word “cosmic” might have been hijacked to mean other things, and I wish it wasn’t loaded the way it is now. It’s hard to keep up with which words are unintentionally associated with which camps and cliques. I’m intending to use it as Kuyperian language, when Abraham Kuyper said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!'” I hope that helps. 🙂