A couple months ago, I had an experience that shook my world. A traumatic event, not unlike other things in my past, sent me spinning. All of a sudden I found myself struggling to keep my head above water and just keep breathing. I tried my best to hide it from everyone, though several people kept asking if I was doing okay. I said I was or at least that I didn’t want to talk about it.
Truth was, I was hopeless and not sure what to think or believe. I felt completely worthless and damaged. I was questioning what was true about me, about my life, about God. I sunk into pits of fear and doubt and anger, all familiar places. I reverted to old thought patterns that ultimately are a form of self-harm, because they only serve to tear me down and minimize my worth. Over a 10-year journey, God had brought me so far in working through the old beliefs that came from a painful past, but honestly, I was wondering if I had just been deluding myself into thinking that God could really restore me and redeem my past.
I was wondering if I had just been deluding myself into thinking that God could really restore me and redeem my past.
I quickly discarded the truths God had spoken to me over those 10 years. I became fearful and paranoid, avoiding going out in public by myself, even just to buy groceries. I did not believe God would protect me. I also began to isolate myself, fearing I would be too much for other people and believing that I was nothing but a burden. I was believing that there was no hope for me and that I would always have a life where the same horrible things would just keep happening. I was depressed and feeling abandoned by God.
As I was sinking further and further down, I also began to wrestle with how I, as a Christian, could really have hope in Christ in circumstances such as these…especially since I was believing that the circumstances were not ever going to change. Then I started to feel very ashamed to be calling myself a Christian…because I was not living like one who had hope in Christ. I didn’t have hope, and I didn’t know what to do about it.
I was not living like one who had hope in Christ. I didn’t have hope, and I didn’t know what to do about it.
Thankfully, God is bigger than my unbelief. He brought to mind an acquaintance I had met several months ago, that I have only had a couple conversations with, and He impressed it on my heart to contact that person…that they had some kind of key to help me through this. Because I was desperate, I sent that person an email, and we set up a time to talk on the phone.
I explained a little to her about the traumatic event that had occurred. She then said, “Okay, well, why don’t you start praying, and when I feel like you are done, then I will.” I was not at all expecting that and had really been angry with God, to the point where I found it difficult to talk with Him. In a brief moment, I decided to push myself to just go there. After all, what did I have to lose? So, we prayed over the phone together, and I prayed with more raw honesty than I ever had before.
I learned that God is not condemning me for hurting and for suffering.
My friend ended up sharing some scriptures with me along with a sermon by John Piper on Psalm 42 called Spiritual Depression in the Psalms. I think we can all learn a lot through the Psalms about walking through suffering and depression as Christians. For me, I instantly felt released from the shame of feeling the way I felt over the pain that I was facing. I found grace for my very normal, human reaction to this legitimate offense. I learned that God is not condemning me for hurting and for suffering. He loves me with a Sovereign love that is bigger than my pain, my fears and my doubts.
I think the biggest catalyst for hope that I got from this sermon on Psalm 42 was something that I had heard before, and have even done before, but allowed myself to overlook in the wake of this trauma. And I knew that I needed to do it again. I needed to preach to my own soul. I needed speak truth to myself; truth from God’s Word, truth about who God is, truth about who He has said I am. I also needed to actively remind myself of the ways He has already proven His faithfulness and love to me over the years…and there are many instances for me to draw on. It was through these things that my hope was restored.
I needed to preach to my own soul.
In the same weekend that this hope restoration occurred, we sang a song at church that completely wrecked me. Little Miss never-cries-in-front-of-people-especially-in-public, was a blubbering mess as I sang the words that depicted my choice to cling for life, with white, tired knuckles, to all of His promises. Choosing that my soul will hang on every word that He’s spoken.
In my anger and frustration and fear and doubting, God led me to a conversation, that led to truths in scripture and teaching and worship, that led to restored hope. He didn’t leave me spinning. He steadied me and strengthened me. God always has been, is and always will be a steady constant in my life…the only constant in my life. He remains the same yesterday, today and forever. He does not change…He remains. He is faithful, and His Word is powerful and unshakable. This is why I have hope in ANY circumstance.