Depression doesn’t sit well on me, but as hard as I try, sometimes it engulfs me like a cold fog covering low ground.
I genuinely wish I could tell you how easy it is to rise above and overcome the circumstances of life, but life is hard, sometimes terribly hard. And no matter what we do or how many hours we spend in prayer or with our therapist, life ain’t easy.
You may have noticed I’m not a big fan of positive confession either. You’re right; being positive is always better than being negative. (Thank you for that inspiring insight.) And, of course, nobody likes a Negative Ned—the equivalent of a Debbie Downer, but sometimes Ned seems like my only friend.
I will spare you the details of my current struggles, specifics that matter to me more than you. (Unless you’re my mother. I think my mom still cares.) But I am wrestling with financial, physical, emotional, and relational issues like never before. You don’t need to hear me complain. I wouldn’t say I like it when kids whine, and it’s worse when grown-ups do. But I will state it again, just in case you missed it: Life is challenging.
Here’s something else. Some of you kinda-sorta-definitely think it’s good that I’m hurting. You know what I’ve done to you or others you care about, and it makes you happy that I’m hurting and sad.
If you are a Christ-follower, you know that getting revenge is evil. It’s that “vengeance is mine, saith the Lord” thing. However, let’s admit it. You feel vindicated and smile a little when someone like me gets what is coming to them in spades. (Just because you might be wondering, “in spades” is an English idiom that means “in abundance.” You’re welcome.)
I understand how you feel. Years ago, the meanest boss I ever had while I worked in the banking industry was diagnosed with cancer. I told her I was praying for her. I wasn’t. I didn’t want her to die, but a bout with cancer seemed only fair to me.
We (including me) don’t like it when the bad guy prospers. The Psalmist wrote, “I was ticked off when the cocky and wicked prospered! It angered me to see them fat and happy rather than miserable and in trouble” (Psalm 73:3-4, BPV).
So, if you’ve been waiting for me to “get what I deserve,” sleep well tonight. It’s happening. (Did I mention my life is difficult right now?)
However, there might be some other things happening you should consider before you giggle too much with glee.
Is it possible that God uses pain, even our self-inflicted agony, to make us stronger and better?
Is it possible that God takes whatever we surrender to Him, even our mess, and turns it into a miracle when we cry out for His help?
Is it possible that God’s blessing sometimes comes disguised as difficulties?
Is it possible that God is more concerned with our character than He is with our comfort? Isn’t He always using the good, the bad, and the ugly to transform us into the image of His Son?
In our Western Church culture, when we pray for blessing, we tend to think that means loads of money and material possessions. But what if when we pray for abundance, God allows an abundance of struggle because He knows that is the best path to authentic and deeper blessing?
James, the half-brother of Jesus, was either a lunatic or onto something when he wrote, “Get delighted and even a bit ecstatic when you face all sorts of tough things. Don’t forget that hard tests produce strong faith. Rather than deny or fight every challenge, allow them to make you better instead of bitter” James 1:2, BPV).
I wish things were different in my life.
I wish I wasn’t reaping what I’ve sown.
I wish I felt better emotionally and physically.
I wish I drove a Tesla and not a twenty-three-year-old Toyota.
But . . . and you will hate this if you dislike me: I have never felt so close to Jesus or loved by Abba.
And as I realize how huge His heart is toward me and feel His hand holding mine regardless of how dark the valley is, the fog of failure dissipates, and my depression seems to lift.
Incredibly, God is always near me no matter what and always working for my good regardless of my bad.