Last Sunday, a friend called to ask me to speak to her relative whose life had been over taken by an unwelcomed guest. DEPRESSION had barged in and intruded into this one’s life. It was obvious depression was not welcome, but depression didn’t care. It has a mind of its own and it settles itself down as if it reigns. If the individual is aware of what can be done, he/ she would realize that brisk walks and exercise would make the “household” uncomfortable, jostling depression enough times so that hopefully, it would be convinced to move on quickly. Unfortunately, it is easier said than done, because when depression arrives, extreme darkness and heaviness comes quickly, hovering over the individual… lingering just as a cartoon character with a threatening, dark rain cloud over his/her head.
Lightning flashes as the roller coaster ride of anxiety begins and the rumbling thunder accompanies the rider, shaking and draining whatever composure, pride and dignity the individual had until only fear is left. running havoc in the empty shell of what remains. The ride goes on, endlessy going through its circuit, repeating itself over and over again until the individual can no longer take another round. Unfortunately at times, death seems to be the only way out.
I have since found an e-mail which I had penned on February 6, 2008. I will let it speak for itself…
I assume many of you have realized I had not been well. Another bout of depression had visited over the last 7 months and my struggle, especially with my faith, was extremely agonizing. I knew God had something beautiful planned, but while I struggled with the horrid disease, I had extreme difficulty accepting that something good could come out of it.
During the 7 months of anxiety and complete hopelessness, I continued knocking on God’s door…hoping and praying that He would ease the pain. It is so unfortunate that the symptoms of the horrid disease and the medication often masked the comfort of God’s love and presence. I often reminded myself of the pain and agony Jesus went through…in hope that I, in turn, would be able to carry on. I must confess I felt like a spoiled child, screaming and shouting, bargaining, pleading with God… I often tried to pretend to “live” the life of another person…but I soon realized that no one else had an easier life…not even Jesus. I am so grateful that while I couldn’t sense His presence, God sent others (His ministering human angels) to me. He also ensured that many of you continued to pray so that I could endure the journey…and I have! Thank you so much for your faithfulness!
A few days ago I realized that women often forget the pain of childbirth. As Nancy (my best buddy) and I chatted, I realized that I cannot forget the pain/agony of depression. Perhaps the memory is not erased because it is a spiritual/emotional agonizing pain. Has God used this pain for good? My answer is an unwavering YES! During those months, I yearned and hungered for God’s comfort…for God’s presence. Now that I can “feel” again, I cannot describe the joy and peace of being given the privilege of basking in God’s love and presence. With all my heart, I encourage each of you to do the same.
My prayer is that each of you take the opportunity to experience Him.
Before I close, I would like to ask you all to pray especially for a young, grade 8 boy named Michael. Since December, he has succumbed to depression and he has not been able to return to school. Would you also pray for the many others in this world who are struggling with the same disease?
I sense that I must share one more thing. I know many of you would not like to know how often I wanted to give up… since there didn’t seem to be any hope. Each time I wanted to give up, God reminded me of a lady named Inga who is battling with cancer. Inga and I have never met, but God somehow allowed our paths to meet indirectly (via the phone and e-mail) around June last year. I often told Inga that I didn’t understand why God had put her in a special place in my heart. Not too long ago, I began to understamd what God had done. About two months before the depression “visited”, God had placed Inga in my heart so I could lift her up in prayer. As I struggled during those seemingly endless months, God often reminded me to pray for Inga. As I prayed for her, I asked Him how she was able to endure. I knew He had given her that beautiful grace because I had overheard others say her faith has kept her going. I kept asking God to give me even a portion of her faith so I could continue on. I recently realized that God had used me in Inga’s life so that she (without her even realizing it until I told her) could later on help me to continue to choose life! Doesn’t God work amazingly???!!! Would you please pray along with me for Inga’s healing?” (Sadly, Inga has since passed, but she crawled into the Father’s loving arms with the greatest faith in Him.)
As always…God is so….good! God bless!
Together in God’s overflowing love,
How God Uses Pain (TGIF Today God Is First Volume 2, by Os Hillman)
“I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things” (Isa 45:7).
God will use pain in order to create a love relationship with His creation. This statement may challenge your theology. However, consider that God allowed Jesus to experience incredible pain in order to create an opportunity to have a relationship with His creation. Consider how Jesus created a relationship with Paul. He blinded him and used a crisis in his life in order to bring him into a relationship with him and use him for God’s purposes. Consider how God recruited Jonah for the mission He had for him.
This is not God’s first choice for His creation. Romans 2:4 reveals that God’s preference is to show mercy and kindness: “Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?” The problem is there are few people who respond to the goodness of God. God loves people more than He loves their comfort. He invests a great deal into mankind. He desires relationship with us and will go to great lengths to create such a relationship in order for us to receive the rewards and inheritance He has for us.
I have observed this process in the scriptures in working with people through years of ministry. I have noticed three distinct stages. First, we live based on convenience. Our obedience is largely based on circumstances in our lives. We choose to obey based on the circumstances.
The second stage is the crisis stage. God allows a crisis to come into our lives. We are motivated to obey God in order to get out of the pain of our situation. Many times God allows us to stay in this condition in order to demonstrate His love and faithfulness during our pain. Gradually, we discover something knew about God and often have a personal encounter with Him that changes us. Our very nature is affected by this God-encounter.
This begins to move us into a third phase that is a relationship that is motivated now by love and devotion instead of pain. This is where God desires us to be. Another way of saying this is we are no longer seeking His hand. We are seeking Him. We want to know God personally.
Obedience will not last when the motivation is only the removal of our pain. Obedience only lasts when the motivation is loving devotion. Where are you in your obedience and what is the primary motivation? If it isn’t love, why not tell the Lord you love Him today and want to know Him for who He is and not for what He can do for you.”