Wednesday, March 5, 2008

What is the meaning of Life? - Part 2

Last Thursday, I shared about my constant struggles during severe depression episodes with the question "What is the meaning of Life?". Whenever I am severely depressed, this question will surface over and over again. I did not know that later, by the mercies of God, this painful and difficult recurring question was to eventually led me to embark on a new journey which is changing my life now in many wonderful ways!

I thank God for leading me to seek help at Counselling and Care Centre in Singapore in January 2007. As I recounted my past relapses of severe clinical depression in the last 20 years, to my Christian counsellor, Sarah, she noted that there is a phrase I keep repeating and that is during every depressive episodes I will wonder "What is the meaning of Life?".

Sarah felt that there is a necessity for me to explore this question and to see how I can get a more realistic and biblical view on this question as that will have an impact in my recovery. That was around beginning of February 2007, and I had just started anti-depressant (20 mg Fluoxetine every morning) for about 2 weeks. Thank God that I am very sensitive to medication and so I was lifted up to a more functional level about 1 week after I took Fluoxetine. So when I was recounting all these past relapses to Sarah, I was more rational and able to think more clearly.

After my second session with Sarah, she asked me what I think is the meaning of life? Sarah wants me to go home and think about this question and to discuss with her in our next counselling session the following week.

Throughout that week, I prayed much and thought through what really is the meaning of Life to me? I know many people will look at it in many ways. What is the meaning of Life? Is there really a meaning to Life? Is there a purpose for my Life? Or am I just here for no reason? If there is a meaning to Life, then what is the meaning or purpose of my life? What really is God's purpose for my life here?

I tried to recall some lessons I learned many years ago during Bible study of the Westminster Shorter Catechism on the chief end of our purposes here:
Westminster Shorter Catechism Question 1 : What is the chief end of man?

Answer: Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.

Bible references:

1 Corinthians 10.31 : Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

Psalm 73.25-26 : Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.

I thought from what I learned from the Catechism question above that God has created me for a purpose and I am here daily to accomplish His purposes, to glorify His name and enjoy Him. I glorify Him when I serve Him and do my best in whatever I do. I glorify Him when I love others and serve them as a way to show my love for God. As at that time I was no longer severely depressed, I do not feel that life is meaningless.

I prayed, look into the Bible and then wrote down some of my thoughts and feelings over the week. When I next saw Sarah, we continued to explore the question on the meaning of life.

I told Sarah that to live a meaningful life is to be a useful person. To be able to serve God, care for my family and do a good job at work. I always strive to do my best at work. When I am able to contribute to my church work, my family situation or work or charity work, I feel that I am living a very meaningful life. Whenever I go through severe depression, I lost all my energies, strength and motivation to do anything. I felt that I am very useless and a total failure. Life seems so meaningless to me.

Sarah listened attentively. She clarified some of my thoughts by asking me some questions. She didn't say very much whether she agrees with my views or not. Then she suggested that maybe we try and explore further through another method.

Sarah took out a very huge piece of paper and some colored markers. I wondered what she intended to do?

(Little did I know that by God's mercies and love, He was using Sarah, my Christian counsellor, to teach me many precious truths which indirectly led me to embark on a new journey, a journey that changes my life in many wonderful ways, and my relationship with God, my family, my church, my friends and others around me. A journey that I am still pressing on now joyfully, by the grace of God.....)

To be continued....

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