According to the World Health Organization (WHO) by the year 2020, depression will be the number two cause of "lost years of healthy life" worldwide. However, the cost in human suffering cannot be estimated.
Life wasn't easy for cave men. They had to hunt all day, kill their dinner with a club, and drag the carcass to the cave. Then they had to butcher the animal and rub sticks together for a fire to cook it. They made clothes from the leftovers. And I think I have it rough when the husband wants me to cook instead of picking up carry out!
Life wasn't easy for our ancestors who crossed oceans seeking freedom. It wasn't easy for pioneers who fought wild Indians, and settled the wilderness. Life has never been easy for past generations. It won't be any different for us.
I used to think I would arrive some day at that magical age when everything would be easy and problem free. Now I've wised up and learned this simple math equation: life = problems.
Trouble is a natural part of life like taxes, Big Macs, bad hair days, and Leave it to Beaver reruns. If you expect to have an idyllic life like Ward and June Cleaver, you may be in for disappointment. No matter how good life can be, there will always be some difficulty mixed in. Expecting to face some trouble can help us deal with it more effectively.
When Herbert Hoover decided to go into politics, he knew he would get criticism, but he went ahead anyway. Later he said, "When the criticism came, I wasn't surprised; I was better able to handle it."
The Bible confirms that hardships should not surprise us. The apostle Peter wrote, "Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial, which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you." (1 Peter 5: 12, 13)
So why am I sometimes surprised when hassles come my way? Loved one get sick or hurt, people lose jobs or homes. These things happen in life: car trouble, financial trouble, and in-law trouble. Unfortunately, none of us is exempt from problems. Do you sometimes feel that trouble attacks you like a swarm of angry bees? You swat one, and two more sneak up and sting you from behind. But don't let that depress you; we have hope!
I was shocked when I realized life isn't just about what I want, and I'm not here just to enjoy a pain-free life. When I asked myself what my life's purpose was, I realized God created me to get to know Him, to serve and glorify Him, and to become more like Him. The Bible says we need to be transformed. (Romans 12:2) That's not a miraculous happening. It's a process that involves problems. Problems are not only a normal part of life, but they're a necessary part too. They prepare us for the future. Not just the future five years from now, but also for the future that comes after our earthly lives end.
Only in heaven is life perfect and easy. But with each problem comes a chance to fulfill your purpose on earth, to learn something new, and to develop a more godly character. It can be difficult to remember this, though, when you're buried in heartache.
The good thing about pain is that it helps me put my focus where it should be, on the only one who can help me cope. When I practice depending upon Him rather than myself, I fulfill my purpose.
People often learn lessons during tough times that they could never have learned if life had been easy. I've found that I more fully enjoy beauty, since I nearly lost my ability to see it.
Think about a frightening circumstance you were forced to endure, and ask yourself what positive result came from it. Chances are you gained some special gift or grew spiritually in some way, not in spite of your ordeal, but because of it. That's why I say this life is merely a practice run or testing ground. It teaches us, stretches and sharpens us, strengthens us, and prepares us for eternity.
There are many unhappy endings in this life, but we can embrace hope knowing that the next life will not only be happier, but it will have no end.
When we understand that difficulties are inevitable and that we can't handle them on our own, we realize why it's important to develop a relationship with the all-powerful God before those trials come. It's good to know that we have a close relationship with, and are dearly loved by, the only one who can provide the strength, perseverance, and courage we will undoubtedly need throughout life. He's just waiting for us to ask for His help. "He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you." (Isaiah 30:19)
Author Marsha Jordan is founder of a nonprofit charity called Hugs and Hope for Sick Children (http://www.hugsandhope.org). More of her articles on depression are in her book, Hugs, Hope, and Peanut Butter, a compilation of essays illustrated with drawings by critically ill children.
Pain is never easy, but it's more bearable with the healing power of laughter; and you'll laugh with the author as she recounts, in Erma Bombeck style, her search for the perfect purse, camping adventures, her badly behaved toy poodle, and her experience with a new magnifying mirror. Some chapter titles include, "Limburger Attitude, "The Joy of Shopping," "Is Broccoli Hazardous?" and "Life in the Manure Pile." She also outlines ten tips for beating depression, written from her own experience of battling this illness for most of her life.
Other essays in thee book include, "More Than I Can Handle," "Ten Tips For Beating Depression," "Why Doesn't God Answer My Prayer?" and "What Did I Do To Deserve This?" Order the book or learn more at http://www.hugsandhope.org/book.htm