Hope and Sickness

Have you ever been so sick that you were confined to bed-rest?

I have. That’s where I was for an eternity and a half. I laughed; I cried. I went crazy, Bob. To be completely honest, I didn’t even stay in bed for the entire month I was supposed to rest; as soon as I felt better (the first week) I returned to normal life with a passion I haven’t felt for a long time. I even looked forward to work, and no healthy American would ever admit that. I was curious to figure out why my enthusiasm was much greater than usual, and it got me thinking about several topics, the most prominent of all being hope.

First, why is the day-to-day life dreaded? I suppose, if you aren’t as lucky as we are at the Writing Center, your boss might drive you crazy. Maybe your classes bore you, or maybe your professor is a psychopath who thinks the students are all his guinea pigs. After weeks, months, or even years of this treatment, plus all the other things like family and friends and humans being annoying, we start believing that tomorrow isn’t going to be a good day. Tomorrow, in fact, starts looking like a putrid pile of pure pain.

That sort of thinking, as easy as it is to fall into, is very dangerous.

Let’s look back to when I was confined to bed. All the days blur together for me. Basically, I didn’t want to go sleep. I didn’t want to wake up. I didn’t want to eat, or drink, or exist. I lost pretty much all hope that I could get better, because I was so caught up in the pain. I focused too much on everything that had gone wrong. Losing hope that our everyday lives can be wonderful is similar to being sick. I’d call it worse, since it can’t be diagnosed as easily as a physical symptom. Losing hope is like losing faith in God. He wants what is good for us; why can’t that look like a good day? (Yeah, I mean every day. But that’s another blog post.) Sometimes, I pretend that losing hope is smart because God isn’t a vending machine, and He doesn’t promise flowers and happiness and loads of money to His followers. But He does promise Himself. And He is very, very good, indeed.

Ever since I was diagnosed with chronic depression last winter, I end up relating most of my thoughts to my fight with this mental illness. (Suffer, my poor readers!) Hope is, by far, one of the most useful skills to develop when fighting things like anxiety and depression.  I say it’s a skill because it takes discipline to look at the world, circumstances, and others in a positive light and tell yourself to think well of these things. Negative thinking literally shapes your brain; negative thought breeds negative emotion, and negative emotion causes the brain to produce certain chemicals. In the same way, positive thinking can help a body function correctly. But not stupid thinking: the best kind of positive thinking is realistic and rooted in truth. Just because chocolate is positive doesn’t mean one can eat a truckload of it. That’s even worse for the body.

We still don’t know much about the brain. A lot of it is a mystery. But what we do know is that it’s an incredibly complicated thing. If we think, and look closely enough at anything, it’s extremely complex. The atoms that form molecules which bond together to form everything are complicated. I can’t even list half the periodic table, and those atoms can come together to make an infinitely more lengthy list of molecules. And these molecules bond together to form an infinitely more lengthy list of things. Look at your hand. Every cell in your body was intelligently crafted, beautifully made slowly over the years into what it is now. God knows where it all came from and how it was made. He was there at the beginning, and He will be there at the end. Like the Bible says: if we know how to give good gifts, as corrupted as our hearts are, imagine how much more does He!

So even when the body fails, don’t forget hope. It is a joy to be able to work and to be able to do productive things. Creation is beautiful, and we get to be part of it. It’s a miracle we exist. “There’s good in the world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for!” It’s worth enjoying, and praising the One who made it.

Written by Isaac

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