Posts Tagged ‘depression’

1 Samuel 2:1-11 (Part 3 of 3)
Hannah’s Prayer of Praise

In the deep dark days of our lives, we wonder if we are going to make it through it, whatever that may be. Each of our valleys are unique to us. We all have them. If you don’t have those deep, dark valleys in life, then, most likely you are not really living. We all encounter low points in our lives where we find it difficult to put one foot in front of the other. Sometimes, we have multiple bad things to happen to us in succession. Sometimes, we have multiple bad things going on at the same time. It is at these times that we wonder if we are going to make it. It is at these times that we may just want to stay in bed for days on end with the lights off the drapes drawn and the bedroom door closed. Those times where you just want to sleep so you don’t have to think about the dark hour of life that you find yourself in. There are days in life where the darkness, the trouble, the hurt, the loss that you can sometimes feel makes it difficult for you to even talk to people. There are those times where you feel less than everybody else because you have this loss, this hurt, this pain in your life that won’t go away. There are times where you feel like you have a horn sticking out of your head and everybody is looking at you as if you are freak or something. There are times in our lives where you are so painfully aware of your loneliness you feel like people can see inside you and see how worthless that you feel. It is like that dream where your dream starts and you are walking from the parking lot to the office and you don’t realize til you are walking to your desk that you are in your pajamas still and people are making fun of you. Or your dream starts and you are walking somewhere in public and all you have on is your underwear and everybody is gawking and pointing at you. That’s how you feel sometimes when you are going through a rough patch in your life.

Although I am living on the mountaintop or at least a mesa in my life right now where things are generally as good as they have ever been in my life, there were times in my life where I can identify with the above paragraph. It was not written fancifully. It was not written from imagination. It was written from real feelings that I have had in my life. There have been stretches in my life where I have had to literally force myself out of bed in the mornings and go to work. There were times in my life where I hated the end of the work day because I no longer had something to divert my emotional attention away from the dark, deep pain of loneliness and hurt. I have had times in my life where I would not leave my apartment from the time that I got home from work on Friday until it was time to go back to work on Monday and in between that Friday and Monday all I wanted to do was sleep but couldn’t. Or I would sleep all day and then could not sleep at night. Therefore, if you are going through a dark pit right now, please know that I can identify with what you are going through. These descriptions are real. I can still feel the pain of those times in my life right now as I write these words. I can taste, smell, see and sense the hardness of those times as I sit here and remember. Those memories are vivid and when I write about them. I can drift back and see and remember those times as if I was back in them. I know your pain of loneliness, of hurt, of pain, of worthlessness, of wondering what the point of it all is, of wandering why I was born, of wondering who the hell cares, of wondering when is this pain going to end, of wondering when I am going to again be like the normal people outside the doors of my apartment, of feeling like I had two heads anytime I walked out my door. You know those feelings right now. I knew them on more than one occasion in my life. I have often written about them here. I know your pain.

I know that it sounds trite and non-soothing at this moment where you are at your darkest hour but I will say it because it is true, “This too shall pass!” Thank God, God saw fit to see me through those dark times even when I thought he hated me or was out to get me or that He was punishing me somehow. Even in the darkest hours of my life, there was always that sliver of hope however tiny it was – that things would get better. That kept my eyes blinking. That kept my heart beating. That kept my feet going one in front of the other. That kept me moving even when I didn’t feel like moving. That sliver of hope however faint is the Holy Spirit telling us to hang in there. It is in these dark times, where that sliver of hope is the only thing that we have to hold on to is the very thing that pulls us through. It is the very thing that makes us appreciate that God is sovereign. It is the very thing that makes us realize just who God is. We may not realize it until we start emerging from the pit of darkness and pain that it was God that was there. It was God that was the sliver of hope. It was God that was actually helping you breathe in the worst moment of your life. It was Him. He loves you. He is keeping you alive right now. Keep breathing. Keep breathing. Keep breathing.

With that idea in mind let us 1 Samuel 2:1-11 now for the last time before we move on to the next passage:

2 Then Hannah prayed:

“My heart rejoices in the Lord!
The Lord has made me strong.[a]
Now I have an answer for my enemies;
I rejoice because you rescued me.
2
No one is holy like the Lord!
There is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.

3
“Stop acting so proud and haughty!
Don’t speak with such arrogance!
For the Lord is a God who knows what you have done;
he will judge your actions.
4
The bow of the mighty is now broken,
and those who stumbled are now strong.
5
Those who were well fed are now starving,
and those who were starving are now full.
The childless woman now has seven children,
and the woman with many children wastes away.
6
The Lord gives both death and life;
he brings some down to the grave[b] but raises others up.
7
The Lord makes some poor and others rich;
he brings some down and lifts others up.
8
He lifts the poor from the dust
and the needy from the garbage dump.
He sets them among princes,
placing them in seats of honor.
For all the earth is the Lord’s,
and he has set the world in order.

9
“He will protect his faithful ones,
but the wicked will disappear in darkness.
No one will succeed by strength alone.
10
Those who fight against the Lord will be shattered.
He thunders against them from heaven;
the Lord judges throughout the earth.
He gives power to his king;
he increases the strength[c] of his anointed one.”

11 Then Elkanah returned home to Ramah without Samuel. And the boy served the Lord by assisting Eli the priest.

In this passage, we see that it is easy for us sometimes to forget that God is in control. We may wonder if He is at all. For others, it is the darkest hour of their lives and and the darkest hour seems to be lasting forever. For some, and Hannah can identify with it, and I can identify with it, it is just hard to even breathe right now because the pain of life is so real that you can physically taste it. For some, whatever is going on in your life, you are just having trouble getting out of bed in the morning. You are wondering what the purpose of life is. You are wondering why you are so lonely, so depressed, so in pain, and so wanting to be with people but yet feeling alone and scared in a crowd. You are wondering if this dark night will ever end. I know. I have been there. I cry tears for you right now.

However, in this passage, Hannah reminds us that no matter how remote God may seem at times to the point that you cry from you innermost being, He is still there. Hold on to that small sliver of hope that your time of pain and loneliness and hurt will end. It will. I promise you. It was the same for Hannah. But she saw God as a solid rock, the One who knows what we do, sovereign over the affairs of all people, and the Supreme Judge who administers the Perfect and Final Justice. Remembering God’s sovereign control helps us remember that He is our sliver of hope in desperate times. Keep breathing. Keep stepping. Keep getting out of bed. He is there. He is the thing that is keeping you alive. He is keeping you alive for a purpose.

It is from our darkest times, that we learn to cling to hope and faith in the sovereignty of God. Hold on to it. Let it help you breath. He will bring you through the valley of darkness. I promise you. It may not look like what you wanted it to look like before the valley. But your survival of the dark times will be your testimony to the faithfulness of God. It will also make your truly, truly appreciate the mesas and the mountaintop periods of your life. Hang on. Hold on. Breathe. God is still there. He wants you to cling to His hand and draw close unto Him. He will bring you out of the pit and set up upon solid ground. That’s the sliver of hope. That’s what gets us through. God is there. He is with you. I promise. I know!

Amen and Amen.

Deuteronomy 1:19-25

Scouts Explore the Land

I remember a short time ago as far as eternity goes, how things were extremely different than they are now. It was a mere twelve years ago. My second marriage had ended. As I have stated before, I allowed myself to get so wrapped up in maintaining my second marriage that I forsook all things including my children. Just to keep my wife happy I would do only what was necessary for my kids and no more. I do not blame my second wife anymore for these things. I allowed it to happen. She knew she had power over me and who wouldn’t take advantage of that? I had made her my god and all else was secondary to making her happy. I lost my soul in maintaining access to her female charms to the point that I lost who I was. Any behavior was acceptable to me to maintain approval so as to maintain access to what a woman can give a man. So, when the trajectories of having to support my child in college (beyond what was required of me by child support order) and my need to maintain the approval of my wife collided, the marriage ended before it ended. My second wife began staying out all night with her buddies from work and would not come home until late in the evening. The marriage was dead and beyond repair. We split up. I had to walk away.

 

When things came to a head and she left me no alternative but to leave after three weeks of bickering and three weeks of silence that was not to change, I called it quits. When I finally got the kahunas to do that, I think I actually heard the earth split into inside my head. Those first months after the breakup were the hardest. The weeks were hard. It was hard to even get out of bed, but something made me go to work in those days. It was a diversion from my depression that was always there in the background. It was like I felt that people could see how lousy I felt about myself and I had to work hard to hide my warts all day. However, if it were not for work, I do not know what I would have done. It was a temporary time to focus mostly on something else other than my loneliness and depression. The evenings and weekends were the worst. I was so depressed those first few months that there was no way for me to get out in the world. I was so self-conscious. It felt like people could see that my second wife was out there living it up with her party girl lifestyle and that I had nothing. It made me withdraw. Weekends were long and painful as I would hardly leave my apartment from Friday evening to Monday morning. Each tick of the clock was excruciatingly long and painful. Each tick was loud and palpable as time slowly, ever so slowly marched forward. I used to look forward to weekends but during those first few months after the breakup, I dreaded the weekends. The march of time on the weekend was audible. There was a time that I just wished I would stop living. I never considered suicide. That’s just not who I am. I did however wish that the pain would go away fervently. I was in a hole and did not know when and if it were to ever end. That’s what happens when you make a person your god and then that god is removed.

 

Even though a natural death would have been welcomed those first few months, there was always that hope that things would get better. It was a small sliver of hope that was microscopic back then, but it was a hope nonetheless. There was a dream of a life that was better. There was a slight point of light that said you will have joy again. It was a battle against the overwhelming depression that I felt in those days, but it was there and that little tiny, infinitesimal, faint light of hope that kept me going. Things would get better. Things would get better. Things would get better. Like a drug addict coming off drugs thinks the world is going to end, I was coming off my drug of making a person my god. It was the most painful experience of my life. There was a hope, however small, that pulled me through. I think that it was the Holy Spirit maintaining my sanity so that I could get to where I am today. That sliver of hope carried me through. I have been through the valley of darkness and I have survived it. If you only have a sliver of hope that things are going to get better, you still have hope. Cling to it. It is a life raft offered by the Holy Spirit.

 

It is that idea of clinging to hope instead of letting the overwhelming sense of doom overtake you that I thought of this morning. We all need that life raft of a bed frame to cling to like in the movie Titanic when all things around you are sinking. Let’s read the passage together today, Deuteronomy 1:19-25:

 

19 Then, as the Lord our God commanded us, we set out from Horeb and went toward the hill country of the Amorites through all that vast and dreadful wilderness that you have seen, and so we reached Kadesh Barnea. 20 Then I said to you, “You have reached the hill country of the Amorites, which the Lord our God is giving us. 21 See, the Lord your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, told you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

 

22 Then all of you came to me and said, “Let us send men ahead to spy out the land for us and bring back a report about the route we are to take and the towns we will come to.”

 

23 The idea seemed good to me; so I selected twelve of you, one man from each tribe. 24 They left and went up into the hill country, and came to the Valley of Eshkol and explored it. 25 Taking with them some of the fruit of the land, they brought it down to us and reported, “It is a good land that the Lord our God is giving us.”

 

The scouts had been sent out to determine not whether to enter the Promised Land but where they should enter. Upon returning, though, the scouts concluded that the obstacles were too large. God would give them the power to conquer the land, but they decided that the risk was too great and they let fear overtake them. God gives us the power to overcome our obstacles but we often let our circumstances control our lives. We can let our circumstances define us and defeat us and drive us into the ground. When we have trust in the Lord, no matter how bleak the situation looks, we demonstrate courageous, overcoming faith.

 

Don’t let anyone tell you that you do not have doubts about whether God is listening and caring when we go through the depths of the valley. Sure, even the strongest have doubts. Even, Jesus in the flesh on the cross asked the Father why He had forsaken Him, as Jesus felt the weight of the punishment of God for all sin for all time. We, too, will have doubts as we go through our valleys. But Jesus never lost faith while suffering on the cross. He clung to the obedience of doing His Father’s will. He knew that His objective was greater than His momentary pain. We too must cling to hope when we go through our valleys. I am witness to tell you that your resurrection is coming. It will get better. I am a living example. I am now standing on the high, dry ground. He has blessed me with a resurrected life that is firmly planted in Him. I have a great wife who loves me unconditionally no matter what. She is the wife that He intended for me. I have a great job in the secular world and I am serving the Lord at my church part-time on staff and full-time in any way I can. I am blessed. Jesus pulled me through those dark early days. I survived. I made it to the other side. Jesus was that faint light that I walked toward when I was surrounded by darkness.

 

Keep you eyes on Jesus and not your circumstances. Things will change if you trust Him no matter how hard it seems right now. You will make it. Hold Jesus’ hand!

 

Amen and Amen.