What would it take to shatter your faith? To drive your emotional, mental, and spiritual life into a pit of depression?
Last year, I almost found out.
After a suffocating season in the hope-sucking Upside Down, the Spirit presses me to share the story of God’s love, my failure, and the unflickering faithfulness of a God who can be trusted.
So here goes…
I spent last year trapped in a well of depression. (Which is hardly how I imagined my first post in almost two years would roll out.) But in an age of “transparency” we share our struggles, right? Yet if we’re honest — and isn’t that what transparency is all about? — how much of what we share is curated to reveal only the parts of our struggle we are comfortable to air?
I’m willing to talk about pain, but not the depth of my own. I’ll admit I struggle with faith, but not that I have wrestled with God in the raw, dark places of doubt and desperation. I’d like to skip the fact that faith can hurt. A lot. And I don’t know what to do with that truth because sometimes faith and its lack of clear borders and crisp definitions, rattles my teeth clean out of my head.
Sometimes my knock-down-drag-out struggle to believe God, makes me feel like a failure. A fake.
Last year began on the heels of a desert season of deep fatigue from two decades of struggle on multiple fronts: chronic unemployment and closed doors, the constant upheaval of moving from one rental home to the next (14 and counting), a steady drip of discouraging circumstances, struggling kids, diminishing health, (and on it goes for so many of us, I know).
So when the first crisis hit, I was already critically depleted. My husband would tell you that beyond the bare bones, bottom line “must do’s,” I was a rag doll. Useless. The piddly portion of juice I had left, God faithfully multiplied so I could care for the immediate needs of my beloved family and my dear women at church. So as grief upon grief rolled in, I fought to focus on God and to hold myself together.
And the enemy rubbed his hands, licked his chops, and hunkered down to wait.
When I was twelve my leg got caught on a rusty nail sticking out of a board as I ran along the deck of our house. The jagged two-inch gash was deep, puncturing multiple layers of muscle and the wound hung open — no blood, just raw white tissue. When it happened, a few numb (blessed) seconds passed before my sister gasped and pointed, and I looked down. The awful realization and pain hit at the same moment and I crumpled like a wet rag. It took hundreds of stitches and almost a year until I could put my full weight on it.
That’s what last year felt like; a series of deep rending crises where loved ones suffered on and on, struggling to hold onto hope and trust in God; when God’s silence despite unending months of weeping prayers punched through decades of faith and spirit and hope.
It was kind of like my experience with that old puncture wound. I kept hoping my brain wouldn’t fully connect to the pain I knew was coming. Maybe if no one pointed the gaping hole out. Maybe if I didn’t look down and see it hanging open, maybe — just maybe — I could manage.
But I couldn’t.
Has your faith ever staggered under the weight of “too much,” “too long,” or just . . .”too”?
Suffering rarely comes in a small, sealed package because the enemy never fires a single slug, does he? He carries a shotgun, takes skillful aim — and buckshot ignites, spraying, guiding each pellet to its white-hot mark — to tear us from our faith. From our God. Sometimes life feels like a foxhole from which there’s no escape.
Even now as I write, I feel like Sisyphus pushing a boulder up a hill.
The mere presence of these words on your screen is evidence that God is here and He is faithful. He took an entire summer’s worth of anesthetized “Don’t care about anything” and transformed them into a single, “I’m willing to try.” From one fragile seed of faith, He grew this post, this series, a whole new fresh start. Friends, God IS good and His sustaining power IS sufficient and I’m profoundly grateful to affirm what you already know: God sits enthroned above the flood. Click To Tweet
The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned forever. May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace! Psalm 29:10-11
God reigns over the darkest, most depressed circumstances. Over the deepest, longest, most painful trial. Our God reigns. Over your flood and mine.
As waves of hopelessness raged around me, Love reached in. Even as deep, wasting depression welled in my heart and I sank beneath spirit-numbing waters, Faithfulness reached down. As I cried His name, Jesus lifted me and carried me deep into Hope’s country where He’s been closing my wound, one healing stitch at a time.
Jesus rescued me. And He can rescue you too because Love never fails. He never deserts us. Never leaves us to drown in our fears, our doubts, our gunk.
Love heals and brings hope to depressed hearts.
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory though our Lord Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 15:57
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. II Corinthians 2:14
That’s why I’m here now, why I’m pushing, not boulders but words, one at a time up and onto the page. Not for the sake of my story, but in hopes that my experience with God will help you navigate yours. I’m here for God and I’m here for you. And we’re in this together.
You Are Not Alone
For the next couple of weeks, as I tell my story we’re going to look for God’s faithful love in the depressed place you feel trapped in today. Here’s some of what you can expect:
- How I got stuck — and how you can avoid it. The difference between “sadness,” depression with a little “d,” and Depression with a big “D” — and why the difference matters.
- What to do if you are already stuck. Finding hope for depressed hearts beyond the well of emotional struggle and futile thinking.
- Where and when to get help. Including a list of reliable resources. (For help right now, click here to read John Piper’s article: 6 Ways Jesus Fought Depression or check out more resources at the end of this post.)
- How God carried me through and what He can do for you. A path to wholeness and heart healing through deeper intimacy with God.
Depression wasn’t the end of my story and it isn’t the end of yours — don’t let your struggle with it shame you, either. There is hope for depressed hearts because God can use it as a pathway to deeper knowledge of His faithful, rescuing heart. God can use depression as a pathway to deeper knowledge of His faithful, rescuing heart. Click To Tweet As we walk through this series, it’s my prayer that you will encounter God in deeper ways than ever before as He stitches your wounds, restores your strength, and carries your faith to new heights.
Do you have a “too” much, “too” long struggle? What would you put in the blank? “My faith is struggling under the weight of too ____________________________________________.”
What would like to see included in this series that would be most helpful for you? *(If you don’t want to post it publicly in the comments, you can send me a note.)
Extra Resources for Help:
Association of Certified Biblical Counselors – ACBC is the oldest and largest biblical counseling organization in the world and is recognized worldwide in 30 countries. All counselors are certified and counseling is usually offered at NO COST as a ministry of discipleship through local churches. To find a Biblical Counselor in your area click this link: Find A Certified Counselor
What is Depression? Pastor Zach Eswine
Hope for Depressed Hearts, Part 1
Hope for Depressed Hearts, Part 2: Prayer
Hope for Depressed Hearts, Part 3: Community
Hope for Depressed Hearts, Part 4: Deeper with God
Featured photo courtesy of Chris Regg.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, I am just a fellow traveler on the road of faith. That means that no post on my website is ever intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any kind. Always seek the advice of a qualified doctor or practitioner with any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of anything you have read on my site.
Bethany, this post is powerful. You’ve always been an eloquent writer. Now, your words plunge deeper into our souls and provide hope because your life shows readers how God rescued you and remains faithful when we’re struggling for air. Thank you for transparency. This website is one example of God restoring the year of the locusts.
Thanks for the sweet thoughts, Karen. I am so grateful for God’s faithfulness and patience with us as we walk with Him through all the ups and downs of our complicated lives. I particularly appreciated your “restoring the years of the locusts” insight and sure hope that that is what God has in store for the year to come. Thanks so much for stopping by!