During my last several quiet months of non-blogging I’ve enjoyed reading blogs by other pastor’s wives. One blog I connect with and am challenged by is called Painting in Words. Shannon writes a particular thread called 100 ways depression had made my life better. Although I prefer to complain about my depression, I do believe that this is an area in my life that God continues to redeem. Here’s my latest example.
This afternoon I led my first bible study at my new church. It’s bittersweet for me. The ladies I left in Chicago are so special to me. Bible study was where I gave and received real life. I miss them, but am trying to move where God is leading me.
At our new church I’m enjoying meeting people and learning to share life together. All the women in the group this afternoon are part of MOPS (mothers of preschoolers) at our church. We were talking about the program and how I’m looking forward to spending time with them… when I let it “slip” that life for me during that time in my life was not so happy.
After I shared my struggle a couple of ladies continued to ask me many, many questions. Now, I have no problem talking about depression, but I felt like I was giving TMI, especially for the first meeting! In my insecure head, I figured they were asking me questions because they wanted the “dirt” on the new pastor’s wife! But, God had other plans!
At the end of our meeting we prayed and said our goodbyes. One girl was hanging around and clearly wanted to talk. She thanked me for being open about my depression. Her own son was recently diagnosed with depression and just started on prozac. Can you even imagine? Here I was thinking I was the target of investigation when she was just searching for clues into what’s happening inside her son. Apparently by sharing my story I was able to give her a sense of peace and hope.
What an awesome opportunity! God is so good, so amazing. I am so thankful to be walking this path with Him. Just wish I could get over myself and get out of His way!!!
In you, Lord my God, I put my trust. I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame… Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good. Ps 25:1-7
I might be people-phobic! I was with too many people yesterday! Around 8pm I totally checked out. I should have gone directly to bed. But instead I stayed up and yelled at anyone who dared glance or speak to me!
Today I’m suffering the aftermath. I’m on the verge of tears. It’s raining inside.
I felt like I was just coming out of the fog… and then – BOOM! My face hit the wall! One day up, next day down. This is so typical of depression! Can I get a witness? Anyone?
But the Lord did not hide His face from me. He is with me on the jagged path. This scripture was brought to mind today:
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Psalm 46:1-7)
I especially connect with vs 4 – “there is a river whose streams make glad the city of God.” Isn’t that beautiful and inviting?
Here’s what Matthew Henry’s commentary says of verse 4:
God’s word and ordinances are rivers and streams with which God makes his saints glad in cloudy and dark days. God himself is to his church a place of broad rivers and streams, Isa.33:21. The streams that make glad the city of God are not rapid, but gentle, like those of Siloam. Note, The spiritual comforts which are conveyed to the saints by soft and silent whispers, and which come not with observation, are sufficient to counterbalance the most loud and noisy threatenings of an angry and malicious world.
God’s knows our need friends. His word IS sufficient and it CAN combat our internal struggles. The streams of the Lord will counterbalance an overbearing world. Let us open ourselves to His inner and external work in our lives!
Psalm 31:1, 24 (AMP): In You, O Lord, do I put my trust and seek refuge; let me never be put to shame or [have my hope in You] disappointed; deliver me in Your righteousness! Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for and hope for and expect the Lord!
What are your expectations of the Lord today?
For the person suffering this can be a tricky question.
I found myself yesterday rediscovering hope. Which, of course, is great! It felt like one of lead blankets holding down my body peeled off.
The only problem though - my hope was based on change in circumstance. And that’s not true hope. Hebrews 11 gives a nice definition of faith and also highlights hope, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hope and faith can trust even when the results remain unseen.
Regardless of where my hope came from I am thankful! The hope steered my study this morning to Psalm 31. The verses above caught my attention, especially in the Amplified version. During a depression battle I find myself expecting the next day to be worse, expecting things to never change. With depression one feels hopeless, worthless and an overall bleakness. Instead of fighting the depression it’s easier to give in and believe that life is worth nothing. But verse 24 of Psalm 31 encourages the heart to hope. Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for and hope for and expect the Lord! I heard, “Don’t give up Shane. Don’t give in. It’s ok to hope. I have this handled. Keep expecting good things from me. I don’t disappoint.”
However, I commonly hear the negative tapes playing over and over in my head, discouraging me, saying “aim low, there’s no disappointment there.” But walking in faith requires a positive voice. A new filter for the negative tone. A Godly voice whispering (not demanding), encouraging, “take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33)
I have a spiral notebook of index cards filled with scripture I want to memorize. It sits in my tote bag pocket. I take it out when I find another scripture to work on. Today I’ll add another… Psalm 31. But instead of putting it back in its snug pocket I’m going to leave it out, where I can see it and learn it and live it!
Whatever you may be struggling with today, God’s Word can overcome. We can expect hope. We can triumph over pain. Feeding the soul is so important. How can we best keep our God-filter engaged? What are you doing today to stay encouraged?
Very few understand. Very few will walk along side.
For me, depression is an opportunity to relinquish all. Anything. Everything to the Lord. It’s a training ground for God to prepare me for the next phase.
Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.
Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins. (Psalm 130)
Eugene Peterson, translator of “The Message” and author of “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction” writes this about Psalm 130 and suffering:
By setting the anguish out in the open and voicing it as a prayer, the psalm gives dignity to our suffering. It does not look on suffering as something slightly embarrassing that must be hushed up and locked in a closet (where it finally becomes a skeleton) because this sort of thing shouldn’t happen to a real person of faith. And it doesn’t treat it as a puzzle that must be explained, and therefore turn it over to theologians or philosophers to work out an answer. Suffering is set squarely, openly, passionately before God. It is acknowledged and expressed. It is described and lived.
Oh, thank you Lord for hearing my prayer of pain. I know that you do not waste any pain. I believe Lord that my suffering will find purpose and will be redeemed. Thank you Lord for working in my life even when I do not see your presence. Forgive me Father for not trusting. Give me an extra measure of faith through this process. In your Son’s redemptive name, Amen
P.S. Thank you for your prayers and suggestions from “I was robbed” post. I have a couple of good resources that are helping me cope with my current insecurities. One thing that has ALWAYS helped me in this area is Ps 139. Watching a rerun of Dr. Oz I saw an incredible interview of Tyra Banks. She explained when she was feeling low her mother instructed her to go into the bathroom, look at herself in the mirror, and not come out until she found something that she liked. Now, couple that thought with the psalmist’s phrase “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” and you have a dynamic prescription for new-found security in Christ.
The blog-o-sphere such an amazing entity. I found a kindred spirit on the other side of the world who has had similar experiences, writes beautifully and shared his heart without fear of condemnation. Here’s a piece of a recent post…
While suffering from depression back in the 1990s I was painfully aware that I had become a broken, shattered person, a shadow of who I had been.
From my diary, 10th April 1990:
I once saw a spider that only had four legs,
The poor thing had lost the others somehow.
Yet the spider, a creature of instinct, did not even know,
It just kept struggling, vaguely aware something was wrong,
But not knowing what it was exactly.
That’s how I feel.
Spending a week away from the big city gives one a glimpse into the amazing universe above. The star gazing at Camp Arcadia was incredible. I could have laid in the sand and just peered into the night sky for hours.
Last night while taking the dog for a walk (back at home in suburban Chicago) the night sky was beautiful. There was one thing missing though, stars. Yet, I know they were there. They’re out there, somewhere. Somewhere past the pollution of living near the city.
While gazing toward the heavens last night I felt a sense of understanding. It was as if God was giving me a glimpse into my depression. You see, many of us with depression feel like we’re living with clouds all around us fogging the view. Even the best view when under the dark spell is full of pollution. Yet we know there is life out there… somewhere. The longer under the clouds, the harder it becomes to see.
Many of us in this Christian walk have time periods when God seems hidden behind the clouds or lost in a sea of pollution. Those are the times when we need to hold on to the hope found in God’s promises.
Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.
Why do you say, O Jacob,
and complain, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:26-31
What offers you hope when under a cloudy view?
I thank God for YOU today. After reading my post yesterday, my husband said he definitely learned something from this last depressive attack on me. He said he tried to suffer silently with me. But, it didn’t work. We only grew further apart and the clouds darkened. However, when he started to vocalize his pain, my pain, our struggle people prayed – YOU prayed – and the change was apparent. Thank you.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
I was reading Psalm 1 over the weekend. Verse 3 hit me between the eyes.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
God has planted me by streams of water, yet I have refused to drink.
What is so important in my life that I have chosen not to drink the life giving water?
Have I given depression kingship over my life? Is my mood more important than the Almighty God who can offer a cure?
As I search for help from doctors and medication I am stepping right over the stream of water which can bring me life I so desperately need.
As Psalms 1 states, you can either be a woman who delights in the Lord OR be like the wicked who are like chaff.
What is chaff? Dictionary.com says chaff is
- the husks of grains and grasses that are separated during threshing.
- straw cut up for fodder (food for animals).
- worthless matter; refuse.
- the membranous, usually dry, brittle bracts of the flowers of certain plants.
OK, once I again I am cut to the core… worthless matter… refuse?
But yet, isn’t that exactly how I feel?
My life is a lot like chaff being blown in the wind. Depression blows with fierce strength and I am uprooted.
It’s not another doctor’s appointment, a new medication, obedient children or even an understanding husband.
The cure is found in the water.
I opened up the door to grab milk for my cereal and saw the 3 week old blueberries sitting there lonely. After inspection (and finding no mold) I plopped as many as possible in my cereal bowl. A yummy addition.
Not too far away from the sad blueberries I spied a package of blackberries purchased on the same outing. Haven’t been washed, left in the refrigerator to rot, I guess. I normally put blackberries in a bowl with my natural yogurt… (but the warehouse doesn’t carry my favorite kind, so it wasn’t picked up with the last shopping trip).
Good intentions. That’s what my refrigerator says about me. I have good intentions. I intended on opening my health book to pick out some recipes weeks ago to go along with the fruits and veggies sitting forlorn in that silver box in the corner of the kitchen. Unfortunately, good intentions doesn’t take a person too far.
Rain, rain go away
Come again another day…
Scratch that – just go away!
Amy Grant used to be one of my favorite artists. I remember her early album called “Age to Age”. Even today I could sing any song word for word from that album.
One song continues to ring through my mind.
When friends who care
Can’t be there
To ease away my pain
And peace of mind
Is hard to find
Like sunlight in the rain.
God sees my heart
The deepest part
Inside this lonely me
And reaching in
His love begins
To heal the heart in me.
I’m raining on the inside
Oh, my heart weels up with tears that start to pour.
I’m raining on the inside
But then Your cries of love break through
And I fall in love with You once more.
Today I’m waiting to feel God’s love break through the clouds.
How’s the weather for you?