Coping with the Challenges, Trusting God

Struck Down But Not Destroyed

Lonely FlowerI am not new to spiritual depression. It is something I have struggled with in the past, especially after having children and learning about Gabriel’s special needs. But I realize I’m not alone in this. Reading through the psalms, some of the psalmists seemed to have a fair share of despair. I’ve also heard that great preachers, like Charles Spurgeon, was not immune to the touch of spiritual depression. I have found myself questioning my standing before God because of this struggle. Why would a Christian have to fight for joy? Aren’t Christians supposed to be happy all the time?

I’ve had darker days in my past. Perhaps, one day I can write about it in more detail without falling apart in tears, but I don’t think I can do it today. I will tell you, though, that I am grateful to God for His presence during those very difficult years. But, I will still have days, like today, when it seems like those dark clouds are looming over me again, and I feel a strong pull to return to that horrible state of despair and hopelessness. Thanks be to God, who brings me to my senses and reminds me that I can boldly approach His throne of grace, so that I may find help in my time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

Thumbing through my journal, I came across this entry from June 6, 2011 when I was in the middle of a vast ocean of despondency. The Lord spoke to me through His Word then, and re-reading it has lifted up my spirits today.

Write In JournalI read 1 Kings 19 this morning, the account of the prophet Elijah and his dealings with King Ahab and Jezebel. God wanted to show me a picture of depression and how He deals with someone plagued with it.

Elijah had done amazing things, challenging many false prophets and being bold in The Lord. Perhaps he thought this would turn even the hardest of hearts, but Jezebel was unmoved. After putting to death her prophets, Elijah received a death threat from Jezebel. He was overcome with depression for not seeing the results he expected and was fearful for his life. He ran away and asked God Himself to take his life. I have been there … discouraged at the results, especially after my attempts to do God’s will. I have been there … even to the point of asking God to take my life, like Elijah did.

The way God responded to Elijah’s depression is amazing. First, He strengthened him physically by giving him something to eat. I, too, have experienced the physically draining effects of depression. Often, I don’t want to get up. I don’t even want to do the most basic things to sustain life, like eating. But, these are the very things God is telling Elijah to do. [How beautiful to see God’s tender care for his people!]

Then, He spoke to Him in a still, small voice. He wanted Elijah to listen, to be still, to realize that, even in quietness and even when it seems The Lord is not working, He is. Lastly, He continued to use Elijah and gave him a job to do. Despite my weakness, He strengthens me and continues to use me.

He will care for us while in our despondent state, but He will not allow us to remain there. He will tell us to get up and eat. Then, He will tell us to go. He has prepared works for us to do, whether it’s raising a child with special needs, homeschooling different ages of kids, working to support a family, caring for a sick relative, bringing a meal to someone who just suffered loss, praying with someone who has been abandoned by her spouse, or sharing the gospel with friend. Though spiritual depression can seem so paralyzing, we must, by His grace, get up and go, and He promises to be with us.

 

(Photo Credit 1: kaje_yomama)
(Photo Credit 2: Walt Stoneburner)

80 thoughts on “Struck Down But Not Destroyed”

  1. Thank you for sharing such vulnerable moments. Depression can feel like we are trapped aboard a sinking ship. I have been there more often than I can count, even to the point of considering taking my own life. After my son’s death, I immediately had to deal with other extreme difficulties that seemed so harsh at such a raw and tender time, and oh so painful. I wrote this on a piece of paper and put it on my bathroom mirror. This trial by fire, these earthly heartaches and conflicts, are making us ready for an eternal glory that will make our misery on earth seem like nothing. 2nd Cor. 4:17

  2. Thank you for this post! We have all been there and may be going through despair and depression now. God doesn’t promise the path will be easy but that he will be with us every step of the way. As Christians I think we sometimes put an unrealistic pressure on ourselves to be happy, and smile all of the time. But we are still human, we still stumble and fall. We still have bad days.
    Someone above mentioned the poem Footprints. That is so true. I look back on the roughest times of my life and I know the only way I ever made it through was because he carried me. I also have a story that maybe one day I’ll have the courage to share on my own blog. I have shared with church family, friends and family. But we all have a story to tell. Our trials become our testimony to others. Our stories can be used by HIM for the good of others.

    Even now there are times that I find myself down and out, but that is the evil one whispering doubts in my ear and placing fear in my heart. But Jesus is with us all. He loves unconditionally. That is an amazing and sometimes hard concept to grasp. That no matter what, no matter our sins, our dark moments, our doubts and fears, or our actions toward others, no matter any of that He still loves us. The creator of the heavens and Earth loves all of his children. Truly incredible!

    There is a song that I tend to cling to in times where I’m struggling with life, or my patience for what I want (not necessarily what He wants) is running thin, when my vision may be scewed by my own will. It’s by John Waller and was on the movie Fireproof called While I Wait. It reminds me that no matter what I’m feeling or what life throws at me, that God is with me and I will worship while I wait for the storm to pass, worship while He does His works for His will. I will worship while I wait. Blessings to you for sharing.

    At His feet.

    Christina

    1. Thank you so much for sharing, Christina! When I came across your blog, I was really just looking for cake & baking blogs, but I liked how you wrote about other things too. I had no idea you were a Christian, but what a sweet and pleasant surprise that God has allowed our paths to cross. 🙂

  3. This post was truly a blessing to me. We rarely hear about these real life challenges that Christians face and it’s something that many people in the Body of Christ experience very often. I myself am slowly recovering from a bout of spiritual depression and it’s especially (that was for u lol) important to know that there are others out there going through and surviving-most importantly- the same battles. God bless your heart. As the Spirit leads you, continue to minister hope and encouragement to your BASICS (brothers and sisters in Christ) 🙂

    1. I’m glad you were encouraged by the post. Thank you for passing it on! Perhaps there are others that you can reach through your blog who are downcast and need The Lord to lift them up.

  4. This is so rare. To be able to talk openly and freely about your struggle brings so much glory to God. You will be rewarded for that. We are never promised to be happy as believers. But God does give us supernatural joy and peace when we should be in complete despair and hopeless. Your struggle is being used to touch others. That is joyful. Does it still hurt? Yes it does, but that gives us hope. Two Passages came to my mind while reading this wonderful post.

    Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. (2 Corinthians 1:3-6 NIV)

    You see here God never waste our pain. He has plans for it.

    Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. (1 Peter 4:12, 13, 16, 19 NIV)

    Thank you for your transparency!

  5. Oh yes! I have sailed those seas of despair. I remember days when I was lucky to just be floating. On really good days I could be holding on to a raft, not sitting on the raft, but holding on. Like you, God brought me on solid ground. Sometimes we just need to remember where we’ve come from, where God has brought us to.

  6. Thank you so much for this post! I wonder if we in many ways have tried to make this world a place that it is not. Indeed, we have hope in Christ, and joy and peace in knowing Him. However, this world is only the means to the end, not the end in itself. So often we try to polish it up with phrases like “It could be worse” or “it will get better” … but what if it does not get better? What if the worse case scenario occurs? Light and Hope and Peace is ultimately in One … then, when that which could be worse becomes the worse, we know where to go and whom to point a hurting world to … I thank you so much for this post today. It blessed me very much! 🙂

    1. You’re very welcome! Some wonderful thoughts you have just shared. I’m reminded that we are pilgrims in this fallen world, just passing through, as we journey to our permanent dwelling with Christ, where the worst will be completely gone and the best will finally be fulfilled. Thank you for visiting again!

  7. As always, you hit the mark! Thanks for the honesty, which we badly need as much as flowers need sunshine AND rain!
    I am moving my little blog to FollowingGod.net from Theway-thetruth-and-thelife.com
    Hope you will enjoy it – same thoughts, just a new address

    Blessings, Claudia

    1. Yes, spiritual depression is a very real thing, but a Christian should never remain in it. We may feel a momentary hopelessness, but The Lord will compel us to get up, as I’ve shared in my post. If you are going through spiritual depression, I would encourage you to go to the Bible, so that God can instruct your heart and mind. He is the maker of your body and soul. He knows you better than anyone, even better than you know yourself. May God show you wonderful things from His Word!

  8. Powerful post! Thank you for your honesty. One of the things I love about the Bible is that, unlike every other culture at the time it was written, it doesn’t cover up the difficulties of the Jews and Christians. So many of God’s people went through times of depression; ironically some of the prophets (Jeremiah, Isaiah, David), people who were intimate with God, were some of those that struggled with depression/despair the most. Jeremiah is known as the “Weeping Prophet;” he wrote the book of Lamentations. And you can literally feel David’s depression in some of the Psalms.
    Walking with God is serious business – you cannot have great joy without experiencing times of despair.

  9. Reblogged this on Delana's World and commented:
    I know that many of us can relate to at one time or another experiencing spiritual depression or even oppression. And, even if you wouldn’t say that…you would at least likely agree that you have experienced being overwhelmed by life’s circumstances at some point in your life. Yes, by His grace and His strength…we press on…

    *******************

    See also: http://3daysatsea.wordpress.com/2012/11/16/really-never/

    1. You’re welcome! And thank you for the link to your post! Sometimes people don’t even realize they’re in the midst of a storm until they hear someone share a personal testimony and put into words what they are going through. May The Lord bless what you are doing to spur on others in their walks with Christ!

  10. Your genuineness is awesome! Too many times Christians fix our smiles on the public because we think we should always be happy instead of fixing our eyes on Christ to experience peace that passes understanding. Your willingness to keep going and trusting, and your willingness to share your story have great impact for me and countless others. Please know that you are loved and prayed for… and please keep up this great work!

    1. Thank you for your encouragement! Yes, I have been guilty of putting up the mask of “happy Christian” when I get around others. But, the times that The Lord has allowed me to remove that mask, I realize that I am surrounded by people who are wearing their own masks and desperately desire to be free from them as well.

  11. For years I battled with God asking Him to remove (change up) a particular “thorn in my side” and He would not. I wouldn’t have classified myself as depressed because I continued on -doing life, but there was such a heaviness in my heart that I could not shake. Years later Beth Moore’s “breaking Free” crossed my path and I realized that I was angry at the very One I loved the most -God. I still believed He had never given me my “hearts desire,” namely to be victorious of this burdensome thorn. She opened my eyes to the fact, once and for all, I was free in His grace (thorn included) to be exactly what and who He’d set me here to be. What a revelation. What freedom. What joy. Daily He reminds me, “My grace is enough.”

    1. Yes, The Lord brings trials our way, not only so that we can experience His comfort, but so that we can have an opportunity to comfort others in the future with the same comfort we received from The Lord. God bless you!

  12. I also love the encouragement we get through Elijah. I love the truth in the matter ..that SO many have these same-struggles, like preachers and such. People of God. I’m in that same cloud of icky stuff these days, kind of lingering and struggling to step out of it..yet again. It will help when we actually see some sunny-warm spring days in this area. I just want you to know that I am SO thankful for your open-ness. If I ‘knew you’ in real-life, I’d give you a big hug of thanks! We are all human, have stuff to deal with behind the scenes. When I worked, there was a time when people called me ‘Smiley’.. when the truth at home was I had the curtains closed, and was crying in the bathroom, feeling very alone in the world and wishing the Lord would just take me and be done. I had a few friends, but couldn’t let them into my world enough to talk or cry to them about my own inside-stuff. I didn’t understand depression then, so just thought I was crazy. A friend of mine knew I struggled, and needed a hug, but since I couldn’t even unlock the door for her, she would leave a rose on my doorstep. That was a hug for me. A lift. A God thing in that moment… and she did that a few times in my life. please know……… in spirit, I’m leaving a rose on your doorstep right now. Thank you for sharing your heart.

    1. You’re so sweet! Thank you so much! You are right … a simple hug is sometimes enough to encourage a weary heart. Someone told me that the best thing that Job’s friends did for him during his affliction was to sit quietly with him.

      1. I So agree about that intimacy of Job’s friends.. at least it was a great ‘love-walk’ in the beginning. I really love and relate to the book of Job too.

  13. Keep believing in God – He is always with us. I’ve always struggled with depression and a few years ago I almost gave up on life believing that nobody really cared about me, including God. Thankfully God spoke to me through others and gave me a new hope. It is like the poem ‘Footprints’ – He was always there and when I needed him the most, he picked me up and carried me. I still have times when I am down and depressed but now I turn to God right away in prayer and he helps me through my difficulties. His grace is amazing! God bless!

    1. Praise God! I know that trials and depression will continue in this life, though we may experience them in different degrees. The Lord does use them to draw us closer to Him and increase our longing for the hope that there will be a time when all those things will pass away.

  14. Thank you so much for posting this. You articulated a question that I haven’t been able to articulate–that is, why do we have to fight so hard for joy as Christians? I’ve been dealing with some physical health-related issues, and I have days that I feel like I’m spiritually defeated. When I’m like that its difficult for me to do much of anything. I usually just keep to myself and wait for it to pass. What gets me even more nuts is trying to figure out what is going on with me. Your post gave words to some of what I feel at those times. Thank you.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing what you’re going through. I wish it wasn’t such a difficult battle to fight for joy, but we can look to Jesus, “the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the JOY that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). He endured greater affliction than we ever will.
      I wrote some other posts that I pray would be an encouragement to you. “Candy Factory Incident” is about trusting God in our trials even when we don’t have all the answers. https://especiallymade.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/the-candy-factory-incident/
      There is also a post about “The Fight for Joy”. https://especiallymade.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/the-fight-for-joy/
      And, I would recommend this book, “When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy” by John Piper.
      May you experience the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ!

  15. I remember a time of terrible depression. I wrote a note, wondering if I would ever make it, or words to that effect, and stuck it in my Bible. A long time later, I came across that note. I could remember being depressed. I could remember writing the note and putting it into the Bible. But for the life I could not remember what it was that had so depressed me. Sometimes, going through “the slough of despond” (I hope you’ve read Pilgrim’s Progress) seems unending. Be of good courage, my friend, the things which happen to us now, and I know I’ve gone through nothing like you are, are working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. The comfort and grace of our God and Savior Jesus Christ be with you!

    1. Yes, I remember the slough of despond from Pilgrim’s Progress. It is a good picture of the trials we go through. But, you are right … they are not worthy to be compared to the glory that is to be revealed to us.

  16. This is a beautiful and honest post, thank you!! I was going through a period of depression after having my second miscarriage when I heard a song on the radio by Natalie Grant called “Held”. I felt an instant sense of calm upon the realization that even though I felt completely awful and hopeless, I was not alone. I try to remember that now, I’m not promised a life free of problems but I am promised that no matter where I go, even in the valley of the shadows of death, He is with me. Awesome!! 🙂

  17. Thanks for sharing. Yes Christians are meant to be happy absolutely. But like all good things in life we all have to earn it. Plus we have the evil one working against us with our every small weakness to keep us astray. To make us unhappy and despair. You said it yourself. Spiritual depression cannot come from God. I have been through the exact same thing as you and I can assure you it was not easy. I was at a point where I was thinking how to DIE as painlessly as possible. But everyday was a battle with myself and the demons that won’t leave me alone. However I have found when you command them in Jesus’s name and sincerely mean it, they leave you alone. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and faith. Keep yourself busy, look at all things that are precious and beautiful to you. I kept looking at my daughter. Holding her, kissing her, talking to her and listened to lots of gospel music. Sang out loud and told the devil to go where the sun doesn’t shine, just like I would to any mortal enemy who was annoying me. And I can safely say I’m on the mend. I prayed and prayed to God to heal me and to take away all that weakens me and makes me go away from Him. And you know what? He did. Eat healthy, keep active and do things you love. Always talk to other fellow Christians who know what a spiritual battle means. This helped me a lot. God sent all the right people my way and that was a blessing from Him. You will be fine hun!!!!! In Jesus name, amen. 🙂

    1. Thank you for your encouragement. Grace and peace to you! The Lord has been showing me over and over again to fight depression, sin, and Satan with His powerful Word. In the desert, Jesus answered each and every one of Satan’s lies and accusations with the Word of God. It is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword!

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