OUR OPINION: The good news brought to the stressed-out world

“The World Health Organization (WHO) Global Burden of Disease Survey estimates that mental disease, including stress-related disorders, will be the second leading cause of disabilities by the year 2020. Although the term stress is used in a wide variety of contexts, it has consistently been demonstrated that individuals with stress and related disorders experience impaired physical and mental functioning, more work days lost, increased impairment at work, and a high use of health care services.”

Metabolism Journal

Henri Nouwen, the popular and influential late writer, lived with a gift of summing-up the human situation: “Aren’t you, like me, hoping that some person, thing, or event will come along to give you that final feeling of inner well-being you desire? . . . But as long as you are waiting for that mysterious moment you will go on running helter-skelter . . . never fully satisfied. You know that this is the compulsiveness that keeps us going and busy. . . . This is the way to spiritual exhaustion and burn-out. This is the way to spiritual death. Well, you and I don’t have to kill ourselves. We are the Beloved. . . . That’s the truth of our lives.” (Henri Nouwen : “Life of the Beloved”)

• Helpful reality like Nouwen’s declaration about the “Beloved” is difficult to apprehend, so its full beneficial impact gets hung up too often in a person’s inability to see the good that’s offered.

It’s hard to believe in the fully immersing love of God, as it has been described.

Nouwen also speaks powerfully to that issue: “You are my Beloved. I have molded you in the depths of the earth and knitted you together in your mother’s womb. I have carved you in the palms of my hands and hidden you in the shadow of my embrace. I look at you with infinite tenderness and care for you with a care more intimate than that of a mother for her child. I have counted every hair on your head and guided you at every step. Wherever you go, I go with you, and wherever you rest, I keep watch. I will give you food that will satisfy all your hunger and drink that will quench all your thirst. … You belong to me. …We are one.

The Christian story seems too good for belief, but that’s Nouwen’s lodestone.

“When everyone was being baptized, Jesus also was baptized. While he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit came down on him in bodily form like a dove. And there was a voice from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness.’ (from Luke, Common English Bible)

And if God finds happiness in the human son, what can’t be true about the good news?