Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Journey 339

Read: John 11: 1-27
    Martial Arts. This is highly popular form of combat technique that is undertaken by people of all ages and also for variety of reason. Some engage or study martial arts for self defense, while some use it for competitive purpose, while for some martial arts is  more of a medium to maintain physical health and fitness and also as tool for spiritual development. Some of the popular form of martial arts are Tae Kwan Do, Judo, Kung Fu, and Karate. But these days martial arts are becoming popular for another group of people– The Military and the War Veterans. The news agency CNN has brought out a news this week about how martial arts is helping war veterans and soldiers in the military to combat stress disorders arising out of their professional duty. An issues that military in this nation is facing and is deeply worried is the increasing number of solders who are committing suicide. The Army reports that in the month of July this year itself more than 30 soldiers killed themselves, which means that one solider died every day. Alarm bells began to ring at Pentagon and a research team was deployed to study the cause of the increasing number of suicidal tendency among the soldiers. One of the findings that the research team found out with regards to the cause of increasing number of suicides by the soldiers was the intense emotional distress faced by the soldiers.  This emotional distress is not only faced by soldiers but also by war veterans. War veteran who were on duty in Afghanistan and in Iraq This emotional distress has brought about an increasing cases of a mental health issue known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorders [PTSD].  PTSD is a mental health condition that is triggered by terrifying event that an individual might have faced or witnessed.  These terrifying events may literally shake a person life whereby he/she may show symptoms like flashback, nightmares and showing severe anxiety, emotional numbness, memory issue and difficulty in maintaining intimate or close relationships and so on. With the increasing number of PTSD among war veterans and soldiers, many have turned to Martial Arts to conquer their emotional distress and symptoms arising out of PTSD. News agencies like NBC and CNN have reported about different trainers who are now helping soldiers and war veterans in coping with PTSD using the system of martial arts.  It is now an alternative therapy for people to overcome  a sense of helplessness and depression that may arise due to an aftermath of a trauma. What these trainers of martial arts are doing to the people suffering from post traumatic stress disorders is that thorough physical training and mental discipline acquired through martial arts, help them to channel their energy to more productive avenues, reprogram responses and also discover new ways and skills to regulate emotional responses. I think though the number of people suffering from PSTD is on the rise, the number of people suffering from intense depression is also on the rise and hence the search to find alternatives to view stress and crisis  in life in a more empowering way. When people turn to martial arts and other alternative forms of treatment for managing stress and traumatic disorders, it is also important that we consciously empower ourselves with the rich spiritual resources that our Lord has given  to us through His Word, church and also through our faith and relationship with Him. Let us ask ourselves whether we are able to richly uses our spiritual heritage, and resources to cope up with crisis events in life that may lead stress, depression and other mental health issues?
              We are meditating on the theme “Transformed Living and the portion that we shall use for our meditation is from John 11: 1-27. This is a portion where Jesus helps two sisters in looking at life  on a different perspective, helping them to express emotions of grief in a meaningful way and also to view deep experiences of sorrow and pain in times of bereavement through the lens of eternity. Martha and Mary are thrown into depths of despair when their brother Lazarus dies after a brief illness. They become more desperate when they realize that though the news about the illness of their brother is communicated to Jesus Christ, instead of rushing to their side in the time of crisis, Jesus stays back in the village for two more days. But Jesus communicates to the people who brought him the news about the sickness of Lazarus that the illness that he is afflicted will not lead to his death but for the glory of God. Soon Jesus comes to Bethany but he realizes that Lazarus is dead and he faces a very distraught Martha, who communicates her grief and her agony that if he was there, their brother would not have died. Jesus empathizes with Martha and tells her that her brother will rise to life as He is the resurrection and the life and whoever believes in Him will live. Mary understands the truth that Jesus communicated but in a temporal perspective, affirming the fact that Lazarus will rise up on the last day. What Jesus was communicating to Martha was not only about the raising up of Lazarus but also a divine and spiritual truth about what it means to be truly alive and living. There are different experiences in life which cause human being to go pain, death, and suffering. All these experiences cripples us and cause us to live life that could be considered living below dignity. It is in such context Jesus offers us a new perspective to view life. Life to viewed in the context of eternity, where life  and all its experiences if viewed in terms of ones relationship with Jesus Christ could lead to the total transformation that Jesus Christ brings to our life even when we go through experience of deep emotional distress and pain. When life and crisis experiences are viewed just on a  temporal perspective we could be  bogged down but when life is reframed on an eternal perspective every experiences of life are experiences of giving glory to God and also find meaning even if there is pain and suffering. This could happened only when we are ready to face those experiences with perspective faith, expressing emotions and also reaction that are more prudent and mature and thus moving forward victoriously in living meaningful Christian life even in the midst of crisis. It is to such high calling and quality of life is what Jesus is calling all of us to. 

Rev. Dr. Joe Joseph Kuruvilla