At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. Daniel 4:34
There’s a fine line between sanity and insanity, and some of the world’s most brilliant individuals were people who lived in a different world and were always considered slightly mad by others. “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun,” said Noel Coward, who must have been in Manila or Singapore when he made that observation; but some have to be out in the sun, and they are in full control of their faculties.
Frankly, the past century seems to indicate a kind of pervasive madness that has gripped our world, upsetting values, creating vast gulfs between the haves and have-nots, threatening our world with nuclear destruction, and putting our nerves on edge.
From time to time I hear someone say, “It’s driving me crazy!” Or “My kids are driving me crazy!” You’re bothered, annoyed, irritated, but not really crazy. There’s a difference.
Daniel told of a man who did go crazy—insane would be the proper psychological term for it. He was a world leader with a vast kingdom, tremendous power, and unchallenged luxury. His name was Nebuchadnezzar. His kingdom was known as Babylon—southern Iraq today, which has lost the glamour of the vast walls, wide enough that five chariots could race abreast on them, hanging gardens, and luxury apartments in the palace.
Walking on a rooftop he viewed the splendor of Babylon and said, “’Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?’ The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, ‘This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken away from you. You will be driven away from the people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle’” (Daniel 4:31-32).
The king was deposed and lived like a wild man outside the city until God said “Enough,” and he was restored. How do you keep your sanity in a mad, mad world?
Guideline #1: Keep your sanity in a mad, mad world by keeping your perspective. And this means you include God in the equation of your life. Otherwise you are like a pilot who cannot locate the air field, someone who has neither chart or compass, whose world has no definition, no east or west, no right or wrong. Some 700 years before Jesus Christ was born, Isaiah, in a time of great conflict and confusion, described the madness of a world without God, saying, “Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like men without eyes. At midday we stumble as if it were twilight; among the strong, we are like the dead” (Isaiah 59:10).
Until a person has found God, he begins at no beginning and works to no end. Life will never make sense without God. It’s a tale told by an idiot, as Shakespeare put it, full of sound and fury but signifying nothing.”
Dr. C.E. M. Joad was a philosopher and psychologist who taught at the University of London, and he was also an atheist. That is, until something happened to him as he was sent into the concentration camps at the end of World War 2. What he saw made him sick at his stomach. He was aghast. “How could men treat their fellowmen this way?” he asked himself. The man who was an atheist recognized the horrible powers of evil and began to reason that if evil exists there must be its opposite, which he came to recognize as God.
The bottom line is that until you include God in your life, yours will be a mad, mad world. He’s the one who gives meaning to life. That’s the beginning of taming your mad, mad world.
Resource reading: 2 Timothy 1:1-7.