For years I begged the Lord to heal me of chronic depression. The initial benefit of anti-depressants had waned. Counseling hadn't alleviated my burden. And God's response to my pleading was silence.
I recall the day a few years ago when my perspective shifted. I concluded that the sovereignty of God is either a sterile doctrine or a dynamic reality. Could I trust Him with my propensity for despondency? What were the implications of the fact that He had not heeded my cries for direct intervention? Was this my “thorn in the flesh” to keep me humble and dependent?
That's when the slant of my prayers also changed. Through tears, I surrendered my desire to be more emotionally whole. Here are the words I prayed: “Father, if You choose not to lift this veil of darkness, I accept that. I'm yours. You're still good. You know what you're about. If this vulnerability to despondency always characterizes me, I'll assume You have a reason. I'll trust You to sustain me through the pain and use me in spite of it. What matters isn't that others perceive me as weak, but that they perceive You as strong.”
I didn't pray that glibly. I relented only after years of bucking the way God had put me together.
Don’t misunderstand. I firmly believe that medical intervention and counseling are forms of God's “common grace” to mankind. My experience of surrender doesn't mean I never avail myself of those two resources for chronic depression. Though as of this writing I have been off anti-depressants for years, I still visit a Christian counselor occasionally to help me deal with negative thought patterns and receive objective input on issues I'm facing. My submission to God's sovereignty over my despondency was essential for me but it doesn't preclude my striving for emotional stability. What it means is that I'm willing to accept God's will even when my efforts don't work.
Please…fight for your joy! Utilize all the weapons at your disposal: the body of Christ; professional counselors; medical intervention and other resources, such as heartfelt prayer and God’s Word. But when push comes to shove, surrendering to God’s sovereign will for your life may be the place to start.
How is surrender to a frail temperament compatible with an ongoing fight for joy? (Or is it?)
My next post shows how a ray of light literally penetrated my dark spirit.