A family lost a son to suicide. In his early twenties he had become dangerously depressed. There was even an initial failed suicide attempt. Wanting to help him, his family took him home, tried to keep him company, took him to the best specialists… They tried everything they could to get him out of this hell. Nothing worked. In the end, the boy managed to take his own life.
In a case like this, one can see how impotent human love can be. All the effort, patience and love in the world are incapable of rescuing a person who is depressed, closed in on himself, entrenched, inaccessible and doomed to self-destruction. And how many feelings of fear, guilt and despair it triggers in those who love them and try to help them. Love, in such cases, proves to be null and void and impotent.
Fortunately, followers of Jesus believe in the ultimate redemptive power of a love beyond our own and capable of bringing about that redemption. God’s love is not blocked like ours. It can break through closed doors, enter into cornered hearts and breathe peace and life into terrified and paralysed people.
This hope we confess weekly in one of the articles of faith we recite every Sunday: “He descended into hell”. What an incredible statement! Our God is not that “god of hell at the ready” of whom Blas de Otero spoke, but the one who descended into hell. If this is true, and Christ is the Truth and the Life, the human heart has within its grasp an unshakable consolation: Love will triumph. God’s love is so empathetic and compassionate that it can pierce every barrier we build with our fears… or our hatreds. God can help us even when we cannot help ourselves. He empowers us to open our door slightly to let Him in. That is not only comforting, but also a corrective to a misguided spirituality that takes for impossible the healing of many who move through the abysses of life.
Unlike ours, God’s love does not stand helplessly at the door of depression, fear, pain or illness. It does not demand that a person first summon the strength to make the initial move of opening himself or herself to healing. There is no hell – personal hell of hurt or depression, fear or disease, bitterness or despair – into which God’s love cannot and will not descend. Once there it will breathe the peace of the Holy Spirit, who is the Lord and Giver of Life.
Juan Carlos cmf
(FOTO: Kenny Eliason)