Love – A sure anchor in distress
Published 3:25 pm Saturday, September 9, 2023
By Michael J. Brooks
Editor’s note: This article discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, don’t hesitate to contact the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
According to the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, we’re now experiencing a “devastating mental health crisis” in America.
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A Harvard poll in 2020 found that one in four adults ages 18-24 has considered suicide. Depressive symptoms included in responses were little energy, trouble sleeping, no appetite or overeating and an inability to concentrate. Conversely, an AARP study the same year found more than 45 percent of adults 50 and older also suffered from anxiety, including no interest in activities and general feelings of depression or hopelessness.
Apparently much of our anxieties began during the pandemic. It’s still hard to imagine government-mandated public shutdowns, social distancing and masking.
I heard one comedian assert that she’d apparently never learned to wash her hands properly until Covid—who thought to scrub our hands for three minutes at one time? And churches wrestled with pleasing those who thought we weren’t strict enough and those who thought we should’ve been stricter when meeting together. I’m not sure we ever found happy ground between groups.
Then we entered a political season with rancor between parties, and the widespread perception that our 2020 election wasn’t fair and square. It’s not for me to say that we had major fraud in 2020, but we’ve always had some of this.
I saw it myself when I was visiting a local nursing home some years ago. I talked with another visitor who was collecting ballots from residents who didn’t know what day it was but were clear-headed enough to put an “X” on the absentee ballots she had. Her candidate won the election, by the way.
Whatever the case, the perception is there.
Now we gear up for another political season. Primaries begin in January and Super Tuesday is in March. Most of us dread the negative ads on TV and radio, though political consultants say they work.
I remember studying in Western Civilization class that societies had “golden ages” when at their apex. This was true for Rome before barbarians stormed the gates. Is it true for America? If so, when was our golden age, or are we in it now?
My supposition is that we’ve always lived in troubled times and uncertainty is part of our daily lives.
I heard former President George Bush (41) in Montgomery several years ago at the Bassmaster’s event at Pintlala Baptist Church. He had just suffered defeat at the polls. He told us that “family, friends and faith” claimed greatest priority for him in his retirement years.
I believe he was correct.
At the end of the day, nothing else matters except the numbers of people we loved and the God we served. This is a sure anchor in times of distress.
“Reflections” is a weekly faith column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church, Alabaster, Alabama. The church’s website is siluriabaptist.com.