The Beast, Part 1
There is a beast that lives deep inside of me. Beast is quiet most of the time. Beast is insidious and knows how to creep, cat like from the depths of my mind to the surface of today’s reality. I have locked him away so many times and thrown away the key. And yet, no matter how secure his cage, he always manages to escape. But not with a bang or a growl but with a quiet cat’s paw, sinister silence.
Right now, the Beast is on the prowl. I feel him flexing his claws and I feel his hot breath on the nape of my neck. He is hungry. He is ravished. He wants to devour my mind and soul and to end me.
I have tried to kill the Beast and have never been successful. Once the Beast arrives and infiltrates your soul he will never go away. The best you can hope for is to keep him caged.
For years, the Beast roamed unfettered through my mind and soul. I did not realize the rips, the bleeding, the scars were made by him. I thought those pains were just normal for everybody. But, 24 years ago I saw the beast head on; gazed into its red eyes; felt its claws rip out my heart; suffered the fall from normalcy and into its maw and fought desperately for my life.
Fortunately for me, I did not have to fight the Beast alone. I had my wife, Sherry and my friends and family. And, most importantly, I had my Savior whose power alone is sufficient for destroying the Beast. It took two years to push the Beast back into his cage. And, this time, the cage was more secure than ever mainly because I recognized that the Beast existed!
Today, years later, I still battle the Beast. Today, he is there in my mind and soul having once again escaped from his cage. The Beast has many names. Despair. Depression. No Hope. He lives in darkness and casts the pall of smothering black all about him.
Sometimes life stinks. Sometimes life sucks. But, I cannot and will not let the Beast push me to the ultimate conclusion of his strategy. Life is always better than “nothing”. This is the utter darkness the Beast smothers his prey with. An ending. A cessation. An escape from the pain.
My wife got the call this morning from a dear friend informing her that their mutual friend’s twenty something son had committed suicide. In just the past week, I’ve read dozen stories online about celebrities who have given in to the Beast. I read where there will be a THIRD season of a show that celebrates suicide.
What is happening in our society that death and oblivion are preferred to life? Who or what is this Beast that terrorizes so many souls?
Let me introduce you to William Provine. He is an atheist scientist who debated Phillip Johnson, a renowned Christian apologist, in 1996. Here is what Provine had to say about our society:
“Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear, and I must say that these are basically Darwin’s views. There are no gods, no purposeful forces of any kind, no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be completely dead. That’s just all – that’s gonna be the end of me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning in life, and no free will for humans, either.”
In the movie “Expelled” he was interviewed and expounded on these statements by making the following conclusions:
There is no God.
Therefore, there is no objective morality.
There is no afterlife.
Our lives have no meaning.
Not only will we die, but we will die alone and our death will come soon compared to the age of the universe, and we will be dead forever.
Ultimately, he says, there is NO HOPE!
Is it any wonder that our current culture has the highest rate of suicide in American history? Particularly, among our young adults who are growing up in this hopeless culture? You see, without the guiding principle of a transcendent God, we must become our own gods. And when we become gods, it leads to the gas chambers of Nazi Germany or the killing fields of Pol Pot or the decimation of millions at the hands of Communism under Stalin. When we become our own gods, we protest the death of endangered species and rationalize killing the unborn. When we become our own gods, we create truth in our image in social media and on the movie screens and small screens of our culture and give voice to the unruly, hate filled voices of our world today. Many times those hate filled voices are our own in the name of a perverted understanding of tolerance.
What is the answer?
First, we have to understand that we live in a culture of lies. When God is taken out of our culture as a foundational concept, then truth dies. In the coming posts, I will talk more about truth. But for now, I want to recognize where lies come from. If you look up the word “lie” in the dictionary what you see is that a lie is an “intentional” twisting of truth. Look up falsehood, look up false, look up deceit. You see the work of a mind behind the formation of a lie. Lies do NOT spring unformed out of the fabric of reality. They are solely and only the product of a mind.
Second, we must understand that the Beast is depression. And, depression is a complex thing. As Mark Sutton and I talk about in our book, “Hope Again”, depression is a physical illness. It springs from physical changes in the body and the brain. In attacking depression, we urge anyone to recognize the physical aspects of depression and ally themselves with their doctor.
Third, even though the Beast, depression, has a physical manifestations, there are spiritual aspects to its attack. Depression is a weapon. This weapon is turned against you and me in order to destroy us. And, the ultimate expression of this is found in self destruction. Self destruction need not be an act of suicide. It can be a long and insidious process of gradually fading away beneath the onslaught of the Beast’s effect on our body and minds.
Fourth, we must understand there is a person behind the lies. Satan is the father of lies. You may not like that. You may not believe that. I really don’t care! It is truth and it is substantiated by scripture. In this encounter, Jesus Christ is confronting the hypocritical religious leaders of his day who used their own perverted interpretation of the Scriptures to control the lives of those people beneath their power.
“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44
If we are to defeat the Beast, not only personally but as a culture, we must recognize the necessity of rooting of our perception of reality not in ourselves, but in a transcendent creator who has established the universe and holds it all together.
“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:15-17
I have been fighting the Beast of depression for decades. I have been to the depths of utter despair where I could not feel a connection to God. I have investigated all worldviews and after nearly 21 years of this journey, I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that the only worldview that makes sense of our universe, of our reality, of our human condition, of our hopeless state is the Christian worldview.
If you are battling the Beast, don’t give in to utter, complete hopelessness. That path leads to self destruction and you must understand that, unlike the word of God, our emotions change constantly. Tomorrow, you might find some hope but that does you no good if your life ends today. There is always hope on the horizon. The sun WILL rise tomorrow. The world will continue to move with you as a part of its story.
In the coming days, I want to share with my readers my hope in TRUTH and how my journey has led me to find this TRUTH. And, this TRUTH has set me truly free. Not the autonomy we all seek, that is, to be our own god and to believe whatever we want. But, the freedom to know I can find morality, meaning, and destiny in my belief in a transcendent Creator who has written the story of my life.