Just have had this on my heart tonight to say. There are some Christians who, I think really believe that being a Christian means having to present a ‘pretty picture’ for people to see as they walk through this life. Our lives though…they are not all pretty pictures. Because we have Christ, we are victorious through him…that’s true. We can have peace that passes understanding, and joy within. But those things do not mean being problem free, or even without times where we experience various emotions in our lives. To present an image that we must…it’s deceptive and really, I think, kind of dangerous to Christians, especially newer Christians, who are struggling with things.
Let me give you an example. Back when I fell back into that depression in the late 80’s, I had fellow Christian tell me, “If you really knew the Lord, you wouldn’t be going through that!” It made me really angry when she said it, actually. You have no idea how hard I was trying to fight that depression. People would say to me, “You have a terrific husband and 3 beautiful children…what do you have to be unhappy about?” Um…I knew that. Did they think they were telling me something I didn’t realize? And at the time I didn’t understand why God had abandoned me…which is what I thought He had done. I hadn’t gone anywhere, or strayed from Him. So why was it happening? Where was He in the midst? It was horrible. In the end, I learned later that He had been with me all that time. I know now that He allowed me through that to realize that the brain is another organ in the body which can get sick, like the heart, or the kidneys or any organ in the body. I had been healed miraculously when I accepted the Lord of depression…completely and miraculously. Then I slipped back into a place that was even worse than before…because I had experienced the great love of God, only to feel abandoned by Him. But through that I learned I had an illness. Guess what…Christians can suffer from depression too, as well as other mental illnesses, just like heart attacks, and diabetes. They’re all illnesses and we’re not immune from them.
Now where depression is concerned, I’m not exactly sure how it all happens. There were issues that I had to deal with through it as well…those memories and all that came with that. So where did it become physical? I don’t know, not being a medical expert myself. I’m assuming that the negative feelings and emotions attached to whatever the situations are trigger changes in the brain, and then it probably becomes some sort of vicious cycle or something. I honestly am speculating. But I do know that after all of that…actually a good while later, I was able to look back and see God having been with me the whole time…see things I learned…see healing that had taken place in my life in ways that wouldn’t have been as valuable without having gone through that, things I had learned about others too, along that path.
Anyway, as Christians, all that stuff we go through becomes our testimony. Our testimony does not end when we’re saved, with just how God changed us when we accepted Christ. I believe it continues in the way He continues to be there for us…continues to help us during trials we will inevitably still continue to have. Because, if you are serving God, or seeking to get nearer to Him…you will most definitely have trials. If you don’t have trials as a Christian, I wonder about your walk with Christ and how real and devoted you truly are. The devil isn’t going to mess with those who are no threat. If you’re not really doing anything toward the kingdom of God, then you’re no threat to him.
And if you are having trials, but feeling somehow that you aren’t supposed to, or that you aren’t supposed to show it…you’re wrong about that too. You are supposed to carry on and move forward through it…that’s true. And we have help there, as Christians…so it’ll be to God’s glory and not our own. But that does not mean pretending it’s not happening, and that life is all rosy. This life is not going to be rosy. There are nice moments, sure. There can be laughter and happiness and many ways God blesses us throughout…but it will inevitably be in the midst of struggles and trials as well. And our true reward comes when this life is over.
Meanwhile, all those struggles become things we are able to use to help others…to have compassion for them…to understand them better…and to show them Christ’s love through it, as he shows it to us in the midst of our struggles.
2 Corinthians 4
New International Version (NIV)
Present Weakness and Resurrection Life
4 Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”[a] made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”[b] Since we have that same spirit of[c] faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.