Many people live with despair 0
“When you say a situation or a person is hopeless you are slamming the door in the face of God.” – CHARLES ALLEN
Allow me, on this holiday weekend, to dig into the archives of “Kernels of Wisdom” and pull out a very poignant tale that occurred here in our nation about 12 years ago. It was Friday, Aug. 11, 2000, the time, 7 o’clock in the morning.
She had parked her sleek, silver Mercedes in the Loblaws parking lot, and then, taking her six-month old son Cuyler from his car seat, she hurriedly descended to the busy Toronto Metro subway station.
Dr. Suzanne Killinger-Johnson had graduated from the University of Western Ontario in 1988. Now a psychotherapist, the 37- year-old purposely inched her way through the busy throng of early morning commuters. As the subway cars whistled in and out of the station, the doctor slowly moved towards the edge of the platform.
Twenty-one hundred miles away, another mother passed quickly and surreptitiously through the doorway of a Safeway supermarket. Nervously clutching her shopping cart, she made her way towards the bakery aisle. Her cart was empty but for the little four year-old who sat in it, completely unaware of the nature of his Mom’s mission. In one of Calgary’s busiest groceries the mother, disguised in toque and sunglasses, brought her cart to an abrupt standstill. Her little boy, though four years old in age, had acute medical problems and was developmentally delayed, having been diagnosed with dwarfism.
The word ‘despair’ is a cold, intrusive word, isn’t it? John Bunyan who wrote the classic Pilgrim’s Progress appropriately labelled it a ‘giant.’ Despair is unquestionably a monster of gargantuan proportions, a mental and emotional malady that can rise up and overwhelm you, and like a cloud with no silver lining take you to the edge of the precipice – and leave you hanging there.
The ‘Concise Oxford Dictionary’ accurately defines ‘despair’ as “the complete loss and absence of hope.” When people despair they lose all sense of the rational, blindly embracing irrationality.
Most of us, if not all of us, have known moments like that, but for many today, despair is much more than a momentary intrusion into our lives. It is something people live with day after day........after day.
In the 21st century despair for many has become a dark, daily companion. In Toronto, Dr. Suzanne Killinger-Johnson clutched her little boy, while in Calgary, a shadowy figure in the bakery aisle pried her fingers loose from her grocery cart. Two Moms, 2,000 miles apart, too overwhelmed to offer any further resistance to the relentless attacks of the giant called Despair.
As the Metro subway approached, the middle-aged psychotherapist grasped her sleeping baby and thrust herself into the path of the oncoming northbound train.
In the bakery aisle of Safeway’s the unidentified Mom released her hand from the handle of her shopping cart and quickly walked away.
Two children were now left, one dead under a subway car, one abandoned in a bakery aisle. The little baby under the subway car was silent, the little boy in the bakery aisle can only say one word as he sits alone in the shopping cart: “Mommy.”
Those who despair see no hope, no light at the end of the tunnel. Some anonymous writer has said that men and women “can live about 40 days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope.”
How incredibly true!
The Biblical writer expressed the absence of hope with equal eloquence. “Hope deferred,” he said, “makes the heart sick.” (The Bible, Proverbs 13:12).
If you’ve been there, and you’ve got the T-shirt, and you’ve been waiting for the sun to shine through the dark clouds, you know how true that is.
Subway stations and bakery aisles have a thousand other names – one bedroom apartments, seniors’ residences, hospital rooms, women’s shelters, cancer wards, “psyche” floors, bars, “crack” houses – the list is endless. If you’re out there today, in one of these places and you’ve almost ran out of hope, can I admonish you, wherever you are, to hang in and not give up, and to reach out for help.
Pick up the phone, get on your cell, call a hotline, get in touch with a pastor, a priest, a hospital chaplain, shoot straight from the heart and tell them you’re at the end of your rope.
There is an answer, my friend, to your profound dilemma. His name is Jesus Christ. He offers you the gift of love, joy, peace.... and hope.
Don’t despair any longer, don’t let depression, despondency and despair take you another inch deeper down into the pit. Call out to God, and let Him reach down and rescue you.
I guarantee, He will turn your mourning into joy, wipe away the tears, and fill you with a hope you’d never have believed was ever possible!
Rev. Eric Strachan is pastor of New Life Community Church in Petawawa.