Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Misery Loves...Misery?

"I simply want to thank you for telling the truth. I'm a missionary who just struggled through 2 years of depression brought on by physical problems. I don't think I'd ever been depressed a day in my life before, and had no idea how to deal with the negative thoughts and temptations that accompanied those dark days. Many days, your devotional was my lifeline. Some days it was an encouragement to me and some days it was a wake up call to keep me from sin. I thank God for walking me through this difficult time. I have a new love and understanding for those who lose their foothold. And I have a new awareness of the hand of God that reaches to the lowest valley."

The above paragraph was part of the praise reports that Bill Keller receives and occasionally shares with his readers. Pretty powerful, huh? I think I like this part the best..."I have a new love and understanding for those who lose their foothold." What a wonderful insight. I wonder if he was thinking that way in the midst of his depression. It was most likely a truth that was only clear after he had come through his ordeal and was once again viewing life through a healthy prism.

But what if we were able to grab a hold of that kind of thought in the middle of a crisis...whether it is emotional, financial, physical, relational or something else? When we feel like our world is caving in around us and our hope for the future is dimming...what if we had the foresight and wisdom to discern that God is allowing these circumstances to ultimately grant us better understanding of not only ourselves but those around us? I think it could offer quite a lift to our soul as our perspective would be widened to those around us instead of suffering from the myopia that can be so severe during those times.

I didn't have many moments of that type of clarity during my depression. I was more consumed with my own plight. I don't beat myself up for that. I think that is a natural part of what I was going through. However, I want to be prepared for the next time I deal with something of that nature. I want to be cognizant of the fact that God works for the good of those who love Him...even when He feels a million miles away...that maybe I am being refined by fire to be better able to serve Him and others. When I view it in that light, maybe some misery isn't so bad after all. Can we truly be happy if we have never been sad? Can we understand joy if we have never experienced sadness? It took utter loneliness and desperation for the prodigal son to realize what he was really missing. I have a feeling his life was much more fulfilling and meaningful after that horrific experience.

I pray that mine will be as well.