June 28, 2010
Fresh Hope for the Journey
Psalm 40:1-3 "I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God."
Friend To Friend
I had almost forgotten what it felt like to wake up at the bottom of that deep, ugly pit called clinical depression. The darkness has been an all too familiar companion for most of my life. Over the years, I tried just about everything to soothe the pain in my heart and mind - things like success in ministry, the approval of others, perfectionism, doing good things, and food - to name a few.
In 1995, the bottom fell out of my life and I spent two long years climbing out of that pit of darkness. I even wrote a book, "Hope in the Midst of Depression" that describes the painful but healing journey that totally and completely changed who I was and what I would become in the years ahead. God absolutely "re-defined" me and gave me a "new song" to sing as He opened doors for me speak to women across the world about how to find hope in the midst of depression. I have often said, "I would go through that pit experience again tomorrow because of what God has done in my life through it." I really meant those words. I just didn't think that "tomorrow" would come. But it has. So what do I do now?
I go back to the place where it all began - to the place of complete brokenness - and remember. Evidently, I have forgotten some of truths God taught me in the darkness. I have surrendered right priorities to the wrong plan and failed to hear God's voice above all others.
Depression may not be the problem you are facing, but the hard times will come and the darkness will find each one of us. At some point in life, we all will face some kind of pit. It may be a pit that we have dug with our own hands of wrong choices or it could be a pit that has been uniquely designed for us by the enemy. But a pit is a pit - a place of paralyzing fear and numbing doubt that is constantly fed by our human frailty and desperate attempts to escape the darkness.
Over the next two days, we will explore four steps we can take in order to find fresh hope and new freedom from the darkness. Let's get started!
Step 1: Identify the purpose of the pit.
I recently underwent what I thought was going to be a simple medical procedure, but when I woke up in recovery, I knew I was in trouble. According to the doctor, the surgery went great but she had not expected to find so much scar tissue and repair work to do and I certainly had not expected to experience the level of pain, soreness and inability to function that overwhelmed me. I was basically helpless. I had given myself a whole ten days to recuperate but it was brutally obvious that recuperation was going to be a long time coming. In fact, those ten days I had so generously carved out of my schedule turned into months of painful and slow recovery. I could feel myself sliding into that familiar pit of darkness.
You see, I have a problem with pride. It has always been extremely hard for me to accept help. I was raised to be strong and independent. When anyone asked what they could do to help out during my recovery, I automatically responded with, "I am fine. I will let you know if I need anything." Fortunately, my family and friends ignored that absurd assertion and stepped right over my pride as they brought meals, cleaned house, did laundry, assumed my teaching and speaking responsibilities and kept our infant grandson while our daughter attended school three days a week. I could not even get out of bed or go downstairs without help - and I did not like it one bit! In fact, I was furious!
Just like a tiny flame can turn into a raging fire, unresolved anger can turn into depression. As I began to work through my own anger and frustration, one purpose of this particular pit quickly emerged as God reminded me of a truth I often share but fail to practice. We were created to need God and each other. It is so easy to slide into a pattern of thinking much like the prideful toddler who announces, "I do it myself!"
We can't! And the good news is that we don't have to! Lay down your pride, girlfriend, and let fresh hope fill your life.
Father, I cannot deal with the darkness and climb out of this pit in my own strength. I recognize my human frailty. I am desperate without You and I choose to trust You and rest in Your sufficiency. Make me more like Jesus and teach me the truths You have for me in this pit.
In Jesus' name,
Now It's Your Turn
Pits can bring life to a screeching halt, demanding that we change our perspective of living and examine our priorities in light of that new perspective. Read 1 Peter 1:6. Compare your perspective to the one described in this verse.
Pits make us face and admit our weaknesses and come to the conclusion that we cannot live life in our own strength. Read 2 Corinthians 12:10. Make a list of your weaknesses and struggles and thank God for each one. Celebrate the power of God's grace in your life.
Pits can strengthen our faith if we allow them to. Read 2 Corinthians 12:9. How has God's power helped you face and deal with the darkness?
More From The Girlfriends
One of the reasons that "Girlfriends in God" exists is because Sharon, Gwen and I recognize our desperate need for God and for the friendships of other women who are seeking Him as well. We really do want to be "God with skin on" in your life.
Need help learning how to study the Bible? Check out Mary's E-Book Bible Studies that you can download for your personal use and/or for a small group study. Mary's latest study is Winning the War with Temptation and may be just what you need to live a life of victory instead of defeat.
Summer can be a stress-filled time. Find ways to manage stress in Mary's new book, Escaping the Stress Trap.
Originally published Monday, 28 June 2010.