Hope for the Hopeless
It was winter in Netherlands. Jessie, my friend and I were sitting face to face at the old black stove in my own room. A fire has been burning for hours there. Watching the flames dance from the burning coals, my friend was telling me about some of her experiences -- many years of severe depression. Itís difficult to believe her life was darkened by depression for so long -- 10 years. This is a true story.
I grew up in a good family, and attended a Christian school. Ironically, thatís the first time I remember saying I was depressed. When I was 15, I felt a deep sense of sadness, hopelessness, and aloneness. Indeed, depression is full of cycles that spiral downwards. It can be hard to put a finger on one thing, because depression feeds on itself. It may start at one place, but then other things get added to the mix, and they keep pushing you downward further and further. The home I grew up in had an influence on me and might have played a part in my depression in those early years. My father was usually distant and absent and then stern and demanding when present. My mother was also demanding, with high standards for me. She had a tendency to be controlling and manipulative. I was sinned against, and that was a part of the start of depression.
In 1990, in early twenties, I wrote something like this, "I really want to die today. Iím overwhelmed by my feelings that I canít figure out. I really donít know to cope. Iím scared. I donít know what to do. I can think of only one way to stop the pain: Suicide. I canít find words to express what Iím feeling. Iím totally desperate right now. I know that the answer lies somewhere in God, which both home and school contributed to. But He seems hopelessly far away. As much as I am doubting and angry with Him, I canít totally walk away from Him. If I did that, I would die. I think everyone is beginning to run out of way to try and help me. I canít stop the pain, and I canít think of anything that will help. Iím afraid Iím going to lose my mind. Iím trying to believe thereís an answer somewhere with God, but I can see no light at all. Right now, I feel like I am in a pitch black hole. I know thereís light somewhere, but I canít see it. Iím being pulled further and deeper into this hole."
In my rebellion, I made very destructive and sinful choices. As a sheep running off the cliff, I was not only running off to self-destruction, but I was really running into sin as well. I came to argue with God about who He is and His will for my life. I came to say to God, "Okay, God, if it is your will for me to live with depression, then thatís okay", even that was almost too arrogant. "Okay God, You are good, because You say good". Shortly, after I pointedly made the decision to bow to Godís will for my life regardless of whether or not that meant depression, I became more convinced of Godís goodness. I came to believe that what God said is true about Himself, that He is good and that He has a good plan for my life. I believe that He loves me and has forgiven me regardless of what my own feelings and experiences say to me. I was still really depressed. Yet, I had the conviction that I needed to believe that God was good and not bad.
Something else happened at that time that was a turning point. Even though I was very headstrong about my depression that made me sinned against God, I kept praying over and over again, "God, donít let me go!" At that point of my life, I had the strongest sense of Godís presence that helped me to grasp and grapple with His goodness. It helped me to come to the point where I could say to people, "There is hope for the hopeless". The hope is not anything special about me or about what I do. Itís all God really works in real situations. Indeed, in the last five years, one of the benefits of all that has occurred in my life is that for the first time in my life, Iím pursuing goals like school and a career. I actually believe that in Godís grace I have a future. I see the lifting of the depression, the goals in my life, and the things that have been happening on the outside as great. But they arenít the most significant or the most important changes. They are just extra added blessings on top of everything God has done. I have gained the sense of who I am in Christ, and being really and truly at peace with God. No one but God can save me from depression. Salvation comes from Him. He is a gracious God. He has given His dear Son, Jesus Christ to die for sinners. After 3 days, Jesus Christ rose again to give me hope to live and eternal life. I, a sinner -- the most unworthy whose penalty is death -- hopes that I shall be saved.
Dear friend, if you are currently living with depression, you do need to be saved. Nothing can save you but the blood of Jesus Christ. Perhaps you wondered, "Whatís my real goals on Earth?" At this moment you have the choice of yielding control of your life to the One who created you, loves you, and knows all about your past, present, and future. If you open your heart to Him, saying a prayer like this, "Dear Lord Jesus, I am a sinner and I need Your forgiveness. I believe that You died for my sins. I want to turn from my sins. I now invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust you as my Savior and my Lord. Amen." Then you will live with hope in Jesus Christ, God of Sovereignty.
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