11 October 2005

Lincoln was depressed?

Soo Inn writes in Learning from Lincoln that the great president of the US of A struggled all his life with depression, but that depression gave him clarity, creativity, and humility.

SI also shares: 'as one who has made his own short sojourn into clinical depression I cannot see how I would wish that experience on any one... The reality is that we now live in a fallen world where pain is a given. Quoting Eugene O'Neil, Shenk reminds us that “Man is born broken.” Post Fall, pain is a given. A wise and loving God now uses that brokenness for His higher purposes. Today, we live in a society that sees pain as an enemy to be removed as quickly and as efficiently as possible. I understand this desire. Pain is no fun. It's just that sometimes we remove pain too quickly, before it can deliver its message.'

Thank you for that, Soo Inn. As someone who suffers recurrent low-grade depression, I couldn't agree more. I am constantly faced with a choice: to fight the pain or to embrace it. To pour my energies into palliating it, or do the surgical work of dealing with its root causes.

I accept that on this side of heaven, the agony of living cannot possibly be eradicated. Instead pain can show me my greatest needs/weaknesses and keep driving me forward in my journey to God. Befriend your pain, Nouwen would say. Let it show the way.

As surgeons, we understand that more than anyone else. Pain brings the patient to us. The nature of pain guides us to the pathology. And the goals of treatment is not mere pain-relief but cure, by surgical removal if necessary. There are instances, even, where pain-relief is cruelly deprived of the patient - in fear of 'masking' the disease process. In the same spirit, I read yesterday Yancey's summation of the book of Job: 'God is more interested in our faith than our pleasure.'

Lincoln was depressed? It's good to know we're in good company!

1 comment:

David Lim said...

i hate being depressed.. but it's always in those times that i truly draw close to God and hear his voice. Down times tend to get me reading his Word more, praying more and trusting more.