The joy of the Lord has truly been my companion in this season. Most days the beautiful rays of sunshine greet me in the morning and I bound out of bed to join the rest of the world in the hustle and bustle of life. It’s usually pretty easy for me to be joyful during the summer as that has always been my favorite time of year. It seems simply sinful to be a little “down” when everything is bright and flourishing around me. That being the case, only a few days ago while enjoying some much needed down time, I felt the subtle grips of depression nearing the recesses of my mind. Like most, I’m pretty familiar with this emotion and knew it for what it was. Ironically at the time I was watching a movie about people who suffer with depression. In the movie they described depression as a feeling of hopelessness for one’s future. I could identity with that description. I looked forward at the future and everything seemed blurry and hazy. I could not see the promises I had believed God for for so long. And instead of combatting this negative emotion I allowed it to settle into my thought life, find a place in my heart, and take rest in my being. I gave in to self pity and hopelessness and let myself wallow in the pain I had been burying in my heart.
In the movie the solution to finding one’s way out of this maze of despair was to pop a few pills everyday. Contrary to popular thinking, I disagree with this solution as I don’t believe pills provide the freedom we are entitled to as human beings. I do however understand there are certain medical treatments that may make certain situations “manageable”. But manageable is not the same as freedom. I also understand that our emotions are not isolated from other compartments of ourselves so true treatment of an emotional symptom needs to also explore the spiritual, mental and physical workings of a person.
For me, I recognize various changes occurring in my external environment which can consciously and subconsciously cause me to feel lost and alone. Thankfully the Lord has drawn ever so near to me during this time of transition. Just as I was blindly feeling my way around the darkness that seemed to be surrounding me, He used a good friend to contact me and invite me into her world of wedding planning. She too is transitioning and experiencing all of the wonderful and scary feelings that accompany such a milestone. I was literally entertaining thoughts of death and her words of life were right on time. It’s not anything that she did per se, she was just being herself and was used by God to remind me once again that He is near. Just when I felt that He was nowhere to be found…
In Out of a Far Country, A Gay Son’s Journey to God, Christopher Yuan shares that he was promised hope from the ceiling of a prison cell after he had been diagnosed with being HIV positive. He was laying, face-up on his cot, feeling as if his life was over and suddenly noticed that “Jeremiah 29:11-13” was inscribed by the previous tenant. Those are dire situations and yet God promised him hope in the midst of them. Christopher is alive and well today, speaking and ministering to the world about God’s goodness.
The truth of the matter is, being a believer does not make us exempt from hard times. It does not promise us happiness or that we will get everything we want in life. But it does promise us hope. It does promise us joy that can’t be taken away. I’ve heard it said that God is not concerned about our happiness because happiness is a fleeting emotion based on temporary and external circumstances. He does however give us joy which is present even in the midst of sorrowful circumstances.
I’m still learning and practicing how to not be led by my emotions. I’ve been functioning in an unhealthy way for some years now in this area so I can’t expect to walk in freedom overnight. It will take practice for me. But I’m so grateful for God’s mercy in meeting me when I’ve failed at practicing. I’m so grateful that He uses His children to manifest His Person and remind us that all is not lost and that in Him, all is now found.