PRAISE IN PAIN

I struggle with depression.

As I’ve grown in my faith and become more self-aware, I’ve been able to counteract or anticipate my triggers. But sometimes that doesn’t always work.

The first time I was able to put the word depression to the feelings I felt was right after high school. I had always had moments of deep despair, but I couldn’t put a name to it. It wasn’t until I had one of the darkest seasons of my life that I was diagnosed with clinical depression. It was my freshman year in college and this ‘season’ lasted for three years.

You heard right, years.

It was such a dark time, that I don’t really let myself go back there very often. It was years of depression, loneliness, suicidal thoughts, and a severe addiction to self-harm. For the first time, I was coming face-to-face with my own sin and the sin of others.

One day, a friend came into my dorm room and started to read Scripture over me. I didn’t really want her to, so I laid there and acted like I was asleep. She opened her Bible and started to read Psalm 13,

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.

I was honestly indifferent the first time she read it. And the second and third. But somewhere around the twentieth time, it hit differently.

My friend was faithful to me and to the Word, knowing that it was the only thing that could soften my heart towards God. For almost a year, she came into my room every day and read Psalm 13 to me.

As I began to hear the cry of David, his pain and fear resonated with me. The complete destruction he felt within his soul. The waves of sorrow that washed over him, making him feel defeated, near to death, and far from God. All things that I felt deep within my own soul.

But the breaking point for me, the part that shifted my perspective even to this day, was the realization that even though David was suffering, he praised God despite it all.

He didn’t praise God instead of suffering or praise God with a blind eye to his suffering, he suffered and praised. After a year of these words being read over me, I opened the Bible and read the words for myself. And the Lord changed my heart and disposition towards Him.

But get this, my feelings didn’t instantly disappear. My suffering didn’t just end. However, I saw how faithful God was and how faithless I was.

Instead of running to the only One who could bring redemption to my story, I accused Him and turned my back on Him.

Soon after the Lord was faithful in revealing this truth to me, a burden was lifted off me. I was able to walk in the freedom offered in Christ and not the bondage of my own selfish ways.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying depression is selfish. I understand that there’s not much you can do about it, but I do know that my response is what matters. I can respond to my suffering with fists shaking at the sky or I can trust that God is for me despite living in a broken world.

For years, my response to God in my depression was selfish. Instead of worshiping through the pain, I chose to look within, and I made everything worse. I made my hardship about the desire to have a pain-free existence instead of the glory of God.

I’m still learning how to praise amidst my pain. And even though life really sucks sometimes, I remember God, who has shown His steadfast love to me. Knowing that no matter the circumstance or hardship, God is worthy of all my honor, praise, and trust.

That’s my story, and I hope it inspires you to see and know that you too can have freedom in Christ. But I recognize that’s not everyone’s story. Depression can be a soul-level, spiritual problem that only God can fix spiritually. But it can also be a physical problem that God fixes through doctors and medicine. Please don’t be afraid to seek medical help if you think you may need it.

by Emily LaGrone

This Sunday we kick off a series where we talk about “IT”… Depression, mental health, elderly, and much more all this month Sundays at Innovation. We can’t wait to see you there at either 9:15AM or 10:40AM in person or online.  

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