7 reasons I am thankful for the season of despair I have experienced!

As some of you read from me recently, I have finally admitted my struggle with depression and the fight to control it that God is saving me from. Though I would never wish what I have gone through on anyone else, I can honestly say today that I am thankful for it. It is a funny and strange thing for me to say sometimes, but I would not change my past of being abandoned, rejected, abused and hurt. Although I would fight for these things never to happen to anyone else, there is a peace I have about the life's journey God has had me on. There are so many things I would not know if I were not taken down the road God has walked me through. There are many people that I would not enjoy being part of their healing if God had not allowed affliction in my life. Though I might not want to experience the pain again, I am thankful that God is using those pains in my life and overflowing Himself to others. Charles Spurgeon struggled with depression for most of his life as a pastor, father and husband. There were days where he hated every minute of his depression, but there were many days where he said:

     "I often feel very grateful to God that I have undergone fearful depression ... I know the borders of despair and the horrible brink of that gulf of darkness into which my feet have almost gone ... Hundreds of times I have been able to give a helpful grip to brethren and sisters who have come into that same condition, which grip I could never have given if I had not know their deep despondency."

Wow, what a beautiful acceptance of the life God was living through Spurgeon. There are days I cannot accept that my past is being used, although God will use every situation for my good and for His glory. But there are also days like today, where I am very grateful that my God has taken me through these hurts and depressions. In days like today, I see that God wastes nothing.

So let me share with you 7 things that I am thankful for in my season of depression that God has lifted and is healing:

1. I know the suffering of many and now can empathize.

As I am learning, empathy is not something I do well. I am not saying I cannot empathize, but my empathy has been limited to certain situations. However, I have a new compassion for those who are hurt and live in that hurt. I see that many of us are hurting and need compassion in those first moments of hurt. I also see the need for partners to come into our lives and walk with us gently through the darkness of life. There is no easy solution for depression, it is a journey out of the dark caves of despair into the gentle revelation of God's healing light. I appreciate more those who are or have struggled with depression.

2. God has stripped me of every self effort and caused me to see my need for Him more clearly.

The phrase I have heard over and over is "just get over it". Funny thing is, that voice has rarely been from others but mostly from me. To get myself out of depression is an incredible impossibility. All of my efforts to walk back into the light of hope only lead me to run deeper into the cave of despair. Every time I tried to get better, I got worse. However, there have been seasons where depression didn't hold me for weeks, but I realize more that these were gracious works of my Daddy in heaven. He was lifting the burden of sadness from me and gently bringing me out of the cave into His light. Even now, this new season of joy is not my doing but His. I see now the Sovereign and Gracious hand of my God through the last 4 years. The healing that I sought and needed is now mine because of relationships God has given me. Todd Vaughn and I agree greatly on this statement: "One of the reasons God brought me to Pittsburgh was to meet Todd and Todd connect me with Eagles Landing Baptist Church, which has brought me to an incredible counselor, who God is teaching and healing me through". I couldn't heal myself but God has brought me to this moment to heal my broken heart and mind. I couldn't do it, but He can and is. This shows me how much more I need Him than I have admitted.

3. He will use this season to take the Gospel to many.

If there has been a consistent theme in my life these last 2 years it is this: "God wastes nothing". I know this season is about my healing, but I also know that God will use this. He might be using it right now to help others know there is a pathway out of the cave of despair, Jesus! Too long, I have seen many run from those hurting. Too long I have been guilty of trying to fix those hurting. As my new friend Robbie Knight says to me, "we ought to be running to the hurt, not ignoring them". Through my healing, God is giving me a vision to see healing that comes through Him. I want to run to those who are hurt and be an avenue that God uses to lead them out of the cave of despair! God will use my life to overflow to others; hope!

4. I am now experiencing healing and a new hope because of this season.

As I mentioned in point 2, I would not have had this opportunity to sit under an incredible counselor if this season had not happened. My depression made me get help. I could not continue in the mental state I was in. As I look back on those months in darkness, I see how really dark that cave was. I might have made some of the most foolish decisions in my life if it wasn't for the depression I experienced. Because of it, God brought help and hope. He used it to remove my ability and placed His ability in my healing. He is also showing me how much I didn't understand some of the meaning of certain emotions. For many, the word "sad' meant something totally different to me. When others experienced sadness, I would experience rage. This is directly connected to my past and I didn't know it. I thought this was the way my life was going to be until heaven, but God is changing that. I am learning what emotions are suppose to feel like and how to show them in a healthy way. By the way, many would not know about my lack of sadness because I would stuff it down inside and let it eat away at me. God is healing that too!

5. My depression has been exposed as earthly and temporary.

How much hope that statement gives me. I will only experience the depression I have had on this side of eternity. It is only a temporary thing because I am destined for heaven with God forever! Also, it is exposed as temporary from the stand point that I am experiencing healing from it and God is giving me victory over it. When it has tried to take me recently, God has turned my eyes to eternity and there is a great joy that this season is only temporary!

6. I would have not known how great a light Jesus is unless I had not been in such darkness.

How much more I enjoy Jesus because of the depths of my pain. When my colon failed in 2007, I would not have known how sick I was until that sickness was exposed and was healed. Moreover, I would have known the blessing of God's work if He hadn't used my colon issues to slow me down. My family really enjoys the sunshine. It allows us the opportunity to go outside and enjoy warmth. Living in the north reveals how much we love warm days. Last winter, when we we experienced temps in the teens and single digits, my kids were miserable because they had to stay inside. The moment the weather got to 30, they ran outside with joy, like they had been locked in for years. This has been the same feeling I have enjoyed. I see how much greater God is because I have seen how dark I have been.

7. I know now there is hope for myself and others to walk (it might be with a limp, but we get to walk).

Building on the last point, let me tell you how hard it is to walk with a smile on my face when everything hurts. I realize that I will probably be in a fight against depression for a long time, but I get to fight it through Jesus! What a joy it has been to be in coffee shops, drive around, walk in the park, go to a movie and not be tied to a bed or a house. Yes, I have a past and yes I am coming out of this season of despair, but the ability to get out of bed is so good. I thank God that I am not bound to that bed, the house or anything else that I have used for safety. I thank God that I have a renewed passion to be a conduit of the life of Christ to those who are hurting. I might be wounded for the rest of my life but that wound doesn't keep me from walking with Jesus. That wound might cause me to limp, but at least I can walk!

Please know I am not declaring myself healed. That would be foolish! But I am declaring that God is healing me and I am growing more hopeful every day. Michelle and I get more excited about what God is doing each day! I am thankful that I had suffered a season of despair because I would not know this season of joy in Christ and would have easily forgotten my future with God forever! If you are hurting, there is hope. It is okay to hurt and I pray you will have a partner that will walk with you into healing. God loves you and knows the despair you might be in. There is a way out of that cave, there is hope for you and I!


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