Surviving

“One of the most insidious aspects of fatalism has to do with how it leads us to resist healing. We become hostage to a discouragement that insists that nothing more can be done. Fatalism reinforces our tenacious grasp on the old. We become stubbornly unwilling to consider anything outside our narrow experience. Fatalism can lead to depression, despair, even suicide.” — Henri Nouwen
 
There is no doubt that a battle is going on in my mind. On the one hand, there is that voice that says: Why suffer through all this, just end it now? On the other hand: If you end it now, you will not make it to heaven. This is an ongoing spiritual battle. And I am aware of it. I try to rationalize suicide. This hurts too much. God will understand my pain. I don’t want to put my family and friends through this.
 
Then on the other hand, I remember taking anyone’s life, including my own, is a sin and I will not be in heaven. I remember the story of a Pastor who was in such pain that he shot himself. We would ask ourselves, how is it possible for a man of God to end his own life? I could only assume that he was in so much pain that he felt that he had no other solution.
 
My own cousin, at the age of 42 hung himself because his life had come to the point that he felt he had no other solution but to end it all. There is a battle going on the minds of each and every one of us. I believe the only reason I haven’t planned it out and done it is because it will keep me out of heaven. And that may be the wrong reason for not doing it but for the moment it is the only thing that is keeping me from doing it.
 
Have I stopped to think what it would do to my family? Yes. I do realize that it would be a cowardly thing to do and it would devastate everyone I love. But it is still in the back of my mind. At least for now. How am I dealing with it? I just pray a simple prayer asking God to put away those thoughts because I know I cannot spend eternity with Him if I do. I want to spend eternity without this pain. So I remember that the Bible promises a new heavens and new earth and that there will be no more pain and suffering; no more tears; no more illnesses; no more death (Rev. 21:1-4).
 
It has been these words that I have read in every single funeral I have conducted, including my own father’s. When I sat next to my dad in his last days, I read and reread that passage over and over again. He was under the effects of the medication and I wasn’t sure whether or not he could hear me but I could sense that something was getting through. One of my father’s biggest dreams was to travel to Europe. His father was magazine salesman and one of my father’s favorite magazine was Architectural Digest. It was filled with pictures of the most famous projects in the world, including Europe. So my father became an architect and became well-known in his birth country. He won several national awards for his architectural contributions to society. He was one of the chief designers for the Contemporary Hotel in Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida. He was very good at what he did. He was passionate about his projects not because he was getting paid big bucks but because he was leaving a legacy behind that would be around for a long, long time. But one of his dreams was to go to Europe. And over the years, I tried over and over again to raise the money so he could go but I was either in college or in a position where I couldn’t help out financially. Now I was feeling guilty about not being able to accomplish his dream. So I turned to him and said, “Dad, I know we had lots of plans of going to Europe and traveling all over so that you could see all these wonderful architectural wonders and take a stroll in Paris, hop on a train to London. I am so sorry that I couldn’t give you that! But you know what, I believe that one day, you and I are going to travel all over this planet! And not only this planet, I believe we’ll travel all over the universe and see worlds that have never been tainted or damaged by sin! And we are going to have a wonderful time doing it! You will not have this illness. Your body will be whole again. And you’ll be jumping up and down out of joy and running back and forth like you 18 again! I really believe it!”
 
 
He never acknowledged whether or not he heard what I said but on the day of the resurrection, I’ll ask him. He was a true inspiration as a person. Our relationship was always close and we had a special connection that no one else had. I loved and respected him no matter he went through.

As I reflect upon his life and death, I realize that even though he was not an overly religious person, he was a man of simple faith. He did not understand all the theological terms. He would say to me, “I was born a Catholic and I will die a Catholic.” It was his simple faith that got him through each day. It was his simple faith that gave him hope for a better tomorrow. When I would talk to him over the phone he would tell through his difficult speech to understand that, “I am so blessed because God has given me another day.” Now that’s a simple faith. That’s the faith that the disciples kept asking Jesus to give to them. Here I am with over 15 years of theological training and experience and I realize none of it can give me that kind of faith. So I realize that my faith has to become like one of a little child.

“Whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” — Matt. 18:4

In his book, “A Childlike Heart: Recapture the Freedom of A Child,” Alan Wright writes,

“The disciples were certainly at this odd with this answer. They probably murmured in disappointment. They had no rights. They were nobodies. . . [He] probably couldn’t even quote the Torah. He had no ministry skills. No education. No power. No money. He probably never fasted or gave alms. How could he be great in the kingdom? What could a little child possibly know that the disciples didn’t know?. . .This boy knew that he was not in control of the world. . .Every child knows that adults are bigger, stronger and smarter. Children are not in charge of the world and they know it. That’s their key to Heaven.”
 

That’s’ the kind of faith I want to have. To know I am not in control of this world or what happens in it. That I can go to sleep each night saying, “Thank you, Lord for this day and everything that you gave to me so that I could be strengthened and blessed.” And when I wake up the next morning, to be able to say, “Thank you, Lord for another day of life. I leave all things in your hands today and I will not worry about anything that happens.” I have to confess that even though I might say them, my faith is still not like that of a little child and so I will be asking God each and every day to give me that kind of faith. A faith that will get me through each moment. A faith that will help me survive.

Prayer

“Father, I confess that I have not had the kind of faith like of a child. I realize that unless my faith is childlike I will not be able to survive this crisis. I need that kind of faith. Please give it to me today and everyday. Amen.”

 

 

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