An Epidemic of Despair

Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

(2 Thessalonians 2:3-4) NKJV

Something startling is happening to middle-aged white Americans. Unlike every other age, racial and ethnic group, unlike their counterparts in other rich countries, death rates in this group have been rising, not falling.

Here’s a quote from a recent New York Times Article that caught our attention:

Death Rates Rising for Middle-Aged White Americans, Study Finds

Suicide, alcoholism and drug abuse are taking such a steady toll that death rates are rising for middle aged Americans.

The number of news articles that are coming in about suicide, accidental overdose, drug abuse and alcoholism is staggering. People frequently refer to an “Opioid Epidemic,” that’s claiming so many lives that cold storage trailers are being used as a temporary morgue in Ohio.

We all have the same evidence. Our choice of paradigm determines what we think it’s evidence of.

Matty’s Razor

There’s a lot of hand-wringing about what could possibly be the cause of this disturbing trend, but on a personal level, what’s causing individuals that appear to be living normal and successful lives to use substances or terminal means to soften or end the pain of daily life? It would seem that the epidemic is despair, which is why so many people are drinking, using drugs, or killing themselves.

The Geometry of Despair

It’s like the slough of despond in “A Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan.

– We blame geometry.

Let’s elaborate. The problem is a spiritual one, and the solution is spiritual also. Alongside the trend in increasing mortality there’s a trend in decreasing religious observance. Naturally with the overwhelming success of technology, science has been elevated to the position of god in the lives of everyone starting with Generation X.

Take a look inside many churches today and you won’t find any Gen Xers or younger, or perhaps a few. Most of the people that are in churches are Boomers. Gen X and below are all at home hooked into the Internet on their favorite connected gadgets, greedily consuming the vast expanse of media that is being created to feed this appetite.

The despair comes from being raised in an uncaring environment of distracted parents, where the comforting knowledge that there’s a loving God in heaven who wants you to live forever has never been taught. Kids today aren’t raised to know that when life’s troubles get overwhelming, and it looks like there’s no where to turn, you’ve always got Jesus who will be with you and give his Holy Spirit to help and guide you.

How did this happen? How did the solution to all of life’s problems become eliminated from our culture?

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