Sometimes, we have darker times to contend with in life. Other times, we are simply filled with joy, goodness, and happiness. But most of us can truly say that our life here on earth has been a stew-like mixture of the two. It’s never perfect, and often, it’s far from it.
If life were always a piece of cake, we might be bored (or at the very least, we would not stay physically fit). Sometimes, we have to deal with the vegetables in life, the absence of dessert, the exercise, and all the “good for us” things that we need to maintain (or get back to) a good level of fitness and health. Many times, if we have let ourselves go too far for too long, that means forming more healthy habits can be difficult, or even painful for a while. This holds true both physically and spiritually for each and every one of us.
This ends up raising some questions for us. Can we learn to lean upon God for the strength we need to embrace that pain and see it for what it is? Are we willing to trust in Him and the knowledge that He will give us what we need to move through the rough patches and come out the other side all the stronger? Are we willing to do the foot work required to take the steps that God would have us take in order to bring His will in our lives to come about? Or, are we simply after the bandaid of the quick sugar fix? It really is a choice on our part as to whether we will turn to Him in these difficult times or not.
Either way, whether we look to Him and His power to get through these trials or not, pain is still going to be there. One way or another, it is going to catch up to us. We are either going to spiral downward into the abyss of despair and remain there alone, or we will fight a good fight (which is still painful until it’s over) and pray that God lends His supernatural and mighty strength to us to pull out of the darkness and emerge stronger.
He does promise us that His strength shines all the brighter through our imperfection and weakness…..in fact, He says that we can even embrace those dark times because it is an opportunity for His power to become manifest in our lives…..
8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor 12:8-10
Last April was a pretty difficult period in my life, and one in which I began to see the verse above in a completely different light. It was a time that only lasted for about two weeks in totality, and the worst of it spanned about three days. There have been many times in my life where I have been through grief and trials that lasted far longer than this. But this one was intense. I look back now and see how much grace and mercy the Lord showed me during this time. I don’t know that I could have endured it for much longer a period than it actually lasted. God always knows.
Some physical things that were going on in my body ended up placing me into a very depressed, and extremely scary state. This depression was very different than the kind I had experienced in the past – those had been things that could simply be explained due to circumstances that were happening at the time. But this didn’t seem like “situational” depression. This was physical…chemical…deep down within my core. And no matter how hard I fought, I could simply not speed up the process of coming out of it. It was escalating, becoming more unpredictable and erratic by the moment, and each time I thought I had reached the peak of it and was ready to come back from what I thought was the bottom, I spiraled further downward. I had absolutely no control over my body or my mind. It was unbelievably surreal.
My poor husband had to watch this over the weekend that it peaked in intensity. I cried to him for help, and he did all that he possibly could to be there for me. But it just would not get any better. I had to turn to God and cry out to Him in a much deeper way than I had been before. I knew that I would come out the other side if He chose to bring me there too. But there was always that chance that He may not choose to do so (for His own Godly reasons), and that was looking like a very strong possibility to both my husband and myself. And I had to accept that too. Whoa.
That moment when I realized I may never be the same (sanity-wise) again was a pivotal point in my life spiritually; To realize that nothing we have is not a gift from God. Everything comes from Him. Nothing is owed to Him. He owns our physical health, our next breath, and our sanity. He owns our children, our finances, our jobs, our lives, our minds, our bodies, everything. None of it is mine.
I grappled with some very serious questions once I had this little epiphany. Wow. What if I go deeper into this depression thing? What if I don’t come out of it this time? What if I lose my mind completely, have to be taken care of or even locked up in a hospital if this thing worsens? I found myself staring out into space for ten to twenty minutes at a time…not quite in a trance, but close. I felt like I was watching myself from the outside, like watching a movie. I felt like one of those folks that is catatonic…that have just completely checked out of reality or moved within themselves into their own little world. I found myself holding conversations, with no problem whatsoever, then suddenly having to remove myself to another room and literally being on the floor, my body shaking, literally heaving with overbearing grief and sobs of remorse.
But the worst part of it was that I could not figure out what was going on here. There was NOTHING wrong in my life, my friends. I was happy in my family life and marriage. My kids and husband were solid and happy in their lives. Everything was going okay with all of the people in the world that I loved. I was content at my work. I loved my church life and felt closer to God than ever before. Sure, I was going through some hormonal changes (they call it perimenopause, and it stinks), but how bad should that kind of thing be? Don’t women by the multitudes go through this all the time? Hasn’t it been a part of a woman’s life for generation upon generation? Why should it put me on the floor? I just could not understand it.
Although I didn’t feel very good about it, I realized that I had to accept that only time would tell what would happen here, and that it truly would be up to God as to the outcome. Honestly, I had exhausted every single thing within my control in dealing with it on my own, with my doctor’s help, and by speaking to my husband about it over and over again. I had sought wise councel, gotten help medically, changed things in my lifestyle, and other things as well. But it just wasn’t getting better. In fact, it was getting much worse.
I decided that I couldn’t do much more than to ask the Lord to meet me where I was at and take it literally moment by moment. I decided to do what He says to in His word…cry out to Him and Him alone. I decided that He may bring me out to the other side, and He may not, but that it wouldn’t hurt to plead my case. But I also decided, that although I really wanted to have it go away, and I really wanted Him to decide to deliver me from this (which He did, two days later), that if He chose not to, I would belive with all my heart that He would stay with me no matter what. This, was what was most important to me. To know that no matter what, God would not leave me alone. That He would be with me…sane or not.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He saved them out of their distresses.
20 He sent His word and healed them,
And delivered them from their destructions.
God taught me through this difficult trial that it’s imperative to pray for things to happen according to His will. He showed me that as badly as we want something, that we must yield to His will in the matter. Thankfully, for me, in this situation, God did choose to deliver me from this depression and bring me back to my feet again. But one day, whether it’s depression or something else, He may not make the same choice. Jesus Himself had to face that as well. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed…
42 saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Luke 22:42
Here is the poem I wrote to the Lord on that day. It sums up my heart during this depression. It was the most desperate cry for help that I think I have ever uttered. And God, in His grace and mercy…well, He answered.
The Meeting Place – April 2012
Take me away God, take me away
From the darkness, the pain and the cold.
Save me, protect me, guide me and lead me
Onto You, Father, I just need to hold.
Take me away Lord, take me away
Let me cling to Your glory, see Your face.
Shining upon me, guarding, You love me
Wipe away all my tears without trace.
Bring me back God, oh please, bring me back
To the place where You seep out of me.
Where Your spirit breathes life, fills the holes
Where You live, anywhere I may be.
Bring me back God, bring me on back
To those who need me, who love and who care.
Help me to let You fight all of my battles
Every time, every place, everywhere.
Take me away from a worldly life, God
Dearest Father, please live through me here.
Bring me back to a place where both things can happen
Living this life, but with You always near.
Meet me here God, oh please, meet me here
Where with You, all glorious and mighty things come.
Take me to the summit and lend me Your vision
In my weakness, your strength’s not outdone.
Take me away, bring me back, then meet me here
Every one of these rolled into one.
Oh Father, don’t let me forget who You are,
All you’ve given me, through Jesus, Your Son.
My Father, You take all of my breath away
I’m in awe of Your majesty, Your grace.
You bring me back to the earth when I need it
And You meet me here, in this very place.