What is the meaning of life? Philosophers have searched for the answer to this question for centuries. The answer is depressing. In the words of Ecclesiastes 1:2: “Everything is meaningless, completely meaningless.” Julie Busler, author of Joyful Sorrow: Breaking Through the Darkness of Mental Illness is a living testament of this verse. Living for the world is meaningless. Living for Christ is the meaning of life.
From a missionary saving lives through the power of Christ to a suicidal patient desiring to end her own, Julie endured the pain of mental illness. She stated, “My life shifted from pulpits to prison, or so it felt, and from acclaimed to ashamed,” as she questioned how a born-again Christian could desire to end her life.
Although she felt isolated, confined in the prison of her mind, she was not alone in feeling this way. In the Bible, several believers were suicidal. Elijah the Prophet stated, “It is enough! Now Lord, take my life.” Job questioned, “Why did I not die at birth?” In a prayer, Jonah pleaded with the Lord, “Please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than live!”
Why does a loving Lord allow deliberating suffering? Why does He not answer the broken prayers of believers? After meeting Julie Bustler and reading her book, I gleaned a new perspective on these questions. Sin entering the world birthed pain, darkness, and suffering. However, it is in the depths of darkness an epiphany arises: life is meaningless, and the only life that matters is our eternal life. Therefore, living to bring others to Christ is the meaning of life.
It was at rock bottom Christ became the rock on which Julie Busler started rebuilding her life. Her breakdown became a breakthrough. However, the Lord did not heal her mental illness. Although she labels the lies of satan with the truth of Scripture, attends therapy, and prays continually, she is diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In chapter three of her book, she compares her ongoing struggle to the thorn in Paul’s flesh.
She stated, “While contemplating the thorn in Paul’s flesh, I noticed immediately that he asked the Lord to remove it three times, and yet God chose that it remain… God chose pain to prevent pride in his beloved follower.” Similarly, her mental illness is a continual reminder to rely on the power of Christ through her weakness. In the valley of the shadow of death, darkness, and depression, He is with her. When she is about to lose the fight, she looks toward the light. She continues to fight to point others to Him.
After answering the meaning of life, in chapter three Ecclesiastes proceeds to state, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Christ transforms broken stories into beautiful testimonies. One day, there will be justice for the oppressed, the ones who hurt in silence, and the depressed. Until then, we must remember the only life that matters is eternal life. We must use our lives to bring others to Christ. To cast out the darkness of mental illness, we must look at the light of Christ. For the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can not overcome it.