Sunday, December 2, 2018

I'm Tired, Boss

John Coffey, The Green Mile
You tell God the Father it was a kindness you done. I know you hurtin' and worryin', I can feel it on you, but you oughta quit on it now. Because I want it over and done. I do. I'm tired, boss. Tired of bein' on the road, lonely as a sparrow in the rain. Tired of not ever having me a buddy to be with, or tell me where we's coming from or going to, or why. Mostly I'm tired of people being ugly to each other. I'm tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world everyday. There's too much of it. It's like pieces of glass in my head all the time. Can you understand? - Youtube [1], IMDB Movie Quotes [2]

These are words from the character John Coffey in the movie "The Green Mile".  He is on death row, and he explains why he is ready to die. I think most of us can relate to the line, "Mostly I'm tired of people being ugly to each other." His "supernatural" gift made him more sensitive to people's ugliness, but really it doesn't take a special gift to see the ugliness in the world today. Read the news, ugliness is all around us. And it is unrelenting, it begins to feel as if one is always "bracing for impact". Wars and rumors of wars. Mass shootings. Pedophile priests. Financial crises caused by greed and deceit. Suicide bombings. Religious persecutions. And politics, don't overlook politics.

I'm tired too, Boss.

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Between The Ears BLOG INDEX, with titles and summaries.

Maybe you or a loved one is having a health crisis. There are plenty of debilitating diseases out there. Many people in hospitals and rest homes are ready to die.  Maybe you or a loved one got injured, like a car accident, or a fall off a ladder. Maybe you or a loved one suffered loss from a natural disaster like a wildfire, or tornado, or had a hurricane destroy your home. Even if you reach old age without sickness or accident, your body will eventually run down. Solomon described it in Eccl 12:1 "Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no delight in them”.  The days are coming that we will have no delight in. After poetically describing how the body will wear out in verses 2-7, he concludes in verse 8 with  “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “all is vanity!”

I'm tired Boss.

The Germans gave us a word for this - Weltschmerz, yes it's in the English dictionary. It means world heavy or world weary. Frederick C. Beiser defines Weltschmerz more broadly as "a mood of weariness or sadness about life arising from the acute awareness of evil and suffering" - Wikipedia(Weltschmertz) [3]. The word was coined by a German Romantic poet of the 19th century, "The poets of the Romantic era were a notably gloomy bunch, unwilling or unable to adjust to those realities of the world that they perceived as threatening their right to personal freedom" - Merriam-Webster [4]. Others describe it as being aware of the difference between an ideal world and the real world. Most everyone sees enough good times and bad times in life to recognize the difference between the ideal and the reality. I leave the reader to decide whether you've got "angst, ennui, or weltschmertz" - MentalFloss [5]. All foretold by Solomon 3000 years ago - Eccl 1:8 "All things are wearisome; Man is not able to tell it."

I'm weltschmertzy, Boss.

Maybe you're still in good health, but you suffer from depression, and sometimes death seems like a way out. You're not alone,  more than 16 million people in the US alone are taking an anti-depressant  drug every year -Time Magazine [6], not to mention self medication with alcohol and street drugs. I think depression in America coincides with kicking God out of public life. Statistically, atheists have way higher rates of depression and suicide than believers - ChristianPost [7]. That doesn't mean believers get to look down on an atheist who is depressed. Maybe a loved one suffers from depression, and you don't know how to help. There are web sites that can help you get started helping them. Learn the symptoms NIMH [8], and "Be There" - PsychCentral [9].

And if you're depressed AND a Christian? Let the self flagellation begin. We know the plan of God, how could we possibly be depressed? We should have joy instead. There are lots of verses about joy in the Bible; joy is listed as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit - Gal 5:22; and we are to "count it all joy when we encounter various trials" - James 1:2.  There must be something wrong if you're depressed instead of joyful; one can come to doubt that they have the Holy Spirit, or doubt that they are a true Christian, or even begin to believe that God has abandoned them. So add guilt and doubt to depression, blame the victim.

You can find examples of depression in the Bible, it just wasn't called that then. Consider the case of Elijah, who one day killed 450 prophets of Baal, and the next day ran for his life, and wanted to die “It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.” - 1Kings 19:4. Or the case of Jonah, who preached a successful warning to Nineveh, and then he too wanted to die, "Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life.” - Jonah 4:3. It seems to me that Jonah had a death wish throughout the whole story. And Job, who summed it up this way

Job 3:11 “Why did I not die at birth,
17 “There the wicked cease from raging,
And there the weary are at rest.
All of us are tired, Boss.

In some ways though, that is the point of physical existence, this existence that Solomon described as too wearisome to tell. The weariness, the weltschmertz, creates in all of us a desire for rest. God created the Sabbath day by resting. But I think Lamech is expressing world weariness when he names his son Noah, saying "this one will give us rest" - Gen 5:29. Noah's name means rest. "Significantly, the competing lineage of Cain, ends up in the land of Nod, which means Restless Wandering." [10].

God gave us the Sabbath day so we could taste the rest to come. Where Job saw the grave as the  place of rest, the real rest is in a life to come, not death, but in the resurrection, and the Sabbath is a foreshadow that that ultimate rest is coming. The connection between the Sabbath rest and the eternal rest is shown in Heb 4:9 " So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God." No, we don't go to heaven after we die, we are resurrected on this earth with new bodies, spiritual bodies that don't wear out, that don't suffer weariness and depression. And resurrected into a world without wars, disease, and weltschmertz - UCG(life-after-death) [11]. One lesson of this life is to desire that rest that only comes from Jesus Christ.

Matthew 11:28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.



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