Daily Devotions

Mourning Anthony Bourdain

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“So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

 

I only watched one episode of Anthony Bourdain’s television show. I didn’t bond with him like the actors in my favorite show, “Big Bang Theory,” but his death hurt none the less. My grandfather, on my father’s side, committed suicide. My wife’s brother-in-law, and dear friend, committed suicide. I’ve had to perform a number of funerals for those who have committed suicide, and many were church friends.

I resent those Churches that claim suicide is a mortal sin. Suicide is the result of mental illness. It isn’t a sign of moral or spiritual weakness, or selfishness. It is a mental illness that individuals often struggle with their entire lives. Many who succumbed were incredibly brave, struggling with the illness for decades. Their memories should be treated with respect, rather than derision.

Dr. Mario Martinez, clinical psychologist to the stars, states, “Independent of how much wealth and fame we achieve, how much we are loved and revered, we still have a private darkness that hijacks us to a place of self-loathing void of hope.” Many of us are capable of going to a dark place where we can obsess on our hopelessness. In this situation a struggling person needs skills necessary to guide one through their “valley of the shadow of death.”

Professionals, like Dr. Martinez, can help lead an individual to hope through facing the darkness head on. First, do not isolate yourself. Find people who care about you and spend time together. Second, get back to church. When you pray, worship, and read your Bible, you are reminded that God made you in God’s image. Focusing on the Spirit is a reminder that you are worthy. Third, drag yourself out of your dark place and do something for someone else. Helping someone else is a powerful tool in self-care. Finally, get help by confiding in a therapist. Friends are wonderful, but a good therapist has the ability to teach us how to cope, adapt, and overcome the darkness within.

Today, pray for those who struggle each day just to remain live. Ask God to bring people to them, so they might find hope again. If a person confides in you, do not feel you have to bring healing. Listen to them, get them assistance, and do not lose touch. If the worst does happen, know that the person is wrapped in God’s loving arms. But God doesn’t want death, God wants newness of life in this life, as well as the next. Pray for God to resurrect the person’s darkness, so hope can be renewed.

A Dangerous Game

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All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are beneficial. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. (1 Corinthians 6:12)

 

In the past few weeks, the World Health Organization announced that it now considers video game abuse to be a mental health issue. It is called “gaming disorder” when it takes “precedence over other life interests.” I’ve heard some people scoff at this, saying “parents should just turn off the television set.” This may be true, but in the same way the mind is altered by the person who cannot walk away from an alcoholic drink, the mind is altered, making it difficult to turn off the gaming device.

 

Officials describe a world where too many young people have intentionally chosen the fantasy world of video gaming, rather than real life. I was so shocked, the first time I had to perform pre-marital counseling and needed to negotiate with the couple how much time the new husband could spend on video games each week. I was floored when he negotiated the amount down to twenty hours per week. He claimed he couldn’t remain “relevant” unless he put in at least that amount of time. I asked why he even felt the need to be married when his first love seemed to be the game.

 

This is just another form of idolatry. On the surface, gaming seems a waste of time, but not dangerous. It is certainly nothing like heavy drinking or heroin. Actually, gaming unlocks pleasure pathways in the brain, not unlike certain drugs. It changes the brain, negatively affecting how one perceives reality.

 

Today, pray for those who struggle with this disease. Pray that people will begin to take this dangerous activity seriously. In the same way that two people can take a drink and one is fine and the other becomes an alcoholic, some who turn on the video game can walk away, while others become addicted. This is a spiritual issue because anything that becomes all consuming, is idolatrous. The young man who wanted to get married, couldn’t come to church with his wife, because he needed Sunday morning to make his twenty hours. Video games have power, and should be treated as dangerous to a person’s future. Reality is too good to waste it on video games.

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