“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
I tried to avoid writing this post, but what happened Friday afternoon made me rethink. Something I’ve never done in all my forty-something years of work. It was the end of the day, and the pressures of the Purchasing Department were catching up with me, and I felt in a bit of a funk. Purchasing can often be a cut-throat occupation anyway. Sometimes the ever increasing workload, the never ending emails, voice-mails, requisitions, problem solving, information correcting, parts research, reports processing, the demands from technicians trying to get a customer’s product out the door, the pressures of the constant impossible requests, can get to me. This afternoon was one for the books. So in this funk I attended a brief meeting, then walking back to my desk all I could think was that I had only a few short minutes to do what I was told had to be done before that highly anticipated Friday afternoon 4:30 quitting time arrived. I finished what was required, closed up my desk and walked quietly, steadfastly, in a bit of a cloud, out of the office, passing my manager on the way quietly mumbling an acknowledgement. The drive home helped me unwind somewhat. It was only within a mile from home that I looked clearly at the dashboard clock and read 4:15 pm. FOUR fifteen?! I almost did one of those famous double-takes. Did I really leave work an hour early?! I’m sure when I explain this to my boss on Monday he’ll look at it as an amusing story.
Depression runs in my family to some degree. I realize I’ve struggled with it off and on since high school. Only for but for a short period of my life I’ve battled it. Getting saved in 1976, attending a Christian college, getting married, these were a string of successful years of joy and challenge. But you play the cards you’re dealt and make the decisions you feel you must, and no, we were not promised a rose garden. My depression isn’t completely debilitating. I think can cope with it successfully. Should I take medication? Maybe. I don’t think so, I’m not thrilled with the idea of taking such a daily prescription being wary of side effects. I think I’m dealing with it to an acceptable degree. I know the Lord and His awesome grace in my life. I have a loving supportive wife who stands by me. I even have the joy of three amazing cats. Is this enough to cope? Sometimes I’m not sure. Most times I believe it is.
Jesus told an audience that blessed are the poor in spirit, quite a radical idea, as most of His were. Who are these poor in spirit and why are they blessed? I think they are blessed because they know, more so than the proud and the self-confident, that life oftentimes requires more strength, more wisdom, more tenacity than the human soul alone possesses. They can be more sensitive to the calling of their Heavenly Father. They can understand more than many the need for assistance, the kind of assistance necessary to deal with life that can’t come from family or friends, society or government, occupation or hobbies; that can only come from One who truly understands what we are going through. (See Hebrews 4:15-16) He sees every one of us going through our trials with a great deal of compassion and care. Hear His heartfelt emotional plea to His people just before His passion when He said, “How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.” (Matt. 23:37) It breaks His heart to see what His people go through and is more than ready to assist us if we let Him. And we do go through a lot down here on this earth. Who doesn’t sometimes feel that it’s all a bit too much? The depressed certainly can.
And who really wouldn’t agree with Paul, when they truly know the awesome power and majesty of our amazing Creator and Redeemer, as did that Apostle who wrote to the Philippians about his own desire “to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better.” (Phil. 1:23) Did Paul too sometimes struggle with depression to the degree that he wanted to escape the weary madness of this world and enter his rest? Considering everything that man endured (just read 2 Corinthians 11:23-28) it would be completely understandable. Then there are these words of Jesus from the Gospel of John, spoken again just before He was led away to be crucified, “he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.” (John 12:25) Sounds like He’s describing the poor in spirit to me. But it’s a statement from the perspective of knowing exactly what is meaningful and lasting in this world, made under the duress of impending adversity. Something the poor in spirit are likely to appreciate.
I hesitate to write this knowing the stigma that can accompany such an admission. Writing a blog no-one reads has its advantages. But really, there are worse things in life of which I could be guilty besides depression. I’m still functional, putting on a confident face at work, getting excellent reviews, and in the world. I only speak for myself, of course, since I know there are others that are dealing with many more pressures than I. And I understand that sometimes stronger measures are needed to cope. But for myself, I just have my own little quirks to deal with. It helps to know them, admit them, so I can be honest with myself and deal with them intelligently. And know I need to continually surrender to Him who has the power to save, to support, and to sanctify.
So in spite of the difficulties of depression, or being poor in spirit, I still consider myself blessed, knowing that I have a place in the kingdom of heaven, having a mansion prepared by my Lord awaiting. (John 14:2)
[Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible © 1995]