Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.
~ William Butler Yeats
In these few well-chosen words, Mr. Yeats neatly sums up one of my greatest fears: things falling apart.
A few weeks ago, I was sick. I think it was a cold. It felt like ebola virus disease. I spent days shuffling around my apartment in a fevered delirium, coughing painfully and waiting for the sweet relief I assumed only death could bring. My younger brother generously made me hot chocolate and compassionately refrained from smacking me every time I whined about how awful I felt.
At the same time as my sickness, and probably for the same reasons, I had a bout with really severe depression. For my readers who’ve suffered depression—I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry. For my readers who haven’t suffered depression, you probably have no idea how blessed you are. Depression sucks. I’m not sure I can overstate this. Depression sucks.
The worst part of all this wasn’t the fever, the fatigue or even the bleak hopelessness.
The worst part was the helplessness.
The prospect of going back to work was terrifying. Hang it, the mere thought of leaving my apartment scared me. I couldn’t make any progress on this blog, and wondered why the ruddy heck I ever thought having a blog was a good idea in the first place. It felt like there was nothing good, useful or meaningful I could possibly do. I was reduced to a shadow of myself, and I was sure it was only a matter of time before things fell apart.
Things didn’t fall apart.
They never do.
As usual, I survived. I took some time off work, took a break from this blog and drank a lot of tea. With God’s help, I made it.
The Apostle Paul had a lot to say about suffering. I admire Paul very much, I suppose because he’s so darn sensible. Books like 1 John are full of baffling statements echoed endlessly. Revelation is full of incomprehensible visions. The Bible is packed with vague poetry and dense theology… and then there’s dear, simple, sensible Paul. I wish he were still around, so that I could hug him.
As I was reading the first chapter of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, I was arrested by the following words.
We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.
A few weeks ago, I felt as pleasant and cheerful as death.
It is well, then, that my God is the God who raises the dead.
I’m not sure why I had to spend days being utterly miserable and absolutely useless. Perhaps it was to remind me of two things.
First, I’m not in control.
Second, God is.
I may not be able to hold things together, but God will always be there to keep them from falling apart.