Jean sits down with the rest of the committee members, and the meeting gets started. She's in her familiar light blue cashmere cardigan sweater, her reading glasses hanging from a thin black woven cord around her neck, her gray-streaked hair pulled back into an efficient bun. She is as proper as always. But tonight her face is completely blank, as if she doesn’t dare reveal anything. She says nothing. “What’s up with Jean?” I wonder.
In 1992 I had a clinical depression. It was a long time in coming, but in hindsight it was inevitable. I was hunkered down in my study trying to write a sermon on the atonement. Behind the stormy sky in my mind, I saw not a smiling Providence offering a gesture of boundless love in sharing his son Jesus, but a scowling ogre, an angry, petulant father. Whether this torment was a function of the descending depression or a contribution to it, I cannot say, but I called my wife and said, “I can’t do this anymore. I’m coming unglued.”
At age eight, Sam became totally paralyzed. A year later he emerged with brain damage, learning disabilities, complex emotional problems and severe behavioral problems. His family began to disintegrate under the strain. His mother committed suicide, and Sam was placed in a psychiatric hospital. In this horrible situation, what earthly difference can Jesus make?