28 October 2007

It's happening again.... depression wants back in

It seems I can't catch a break. The minute I begin to move toward something different, the old voices come back and see what sort of havoc they can create. No, I don't actually hear voices. I am talking about the inner monologue that plays inside my head and tells me what a failure I am...at everything.

Frankly, I wish the voices were telling me to paint the walls with spaghetti or to shop naked at WalMart. I would recognize that dialog as just plain nuts. Instead they take inventory for me. They point out every failure, every hope that was dashed upon the rocks, every bad idea and every shameful moment I have spent. They sound quite reasonable because they are partially based in truth. Can I get an amen from someone? Or are you going to pretend that it doesn't happen to you?

Bob Bennett wrote a song a while back. The first time I heard it I thought "That's it! He nailed it!" The song is titled "Lord of the Past" and the lyrics are here. As much as I enjoy the song, it seems to me that there is an important element left out. Understanding the sovereignty of God in every detail of our lives does help us live with the past but more importantly it should give us hope for the future. That's the part that is broken in me. That's where there is a crack in my spiritual armor allowing depression to seep back in. Hope is a foreign concepts to me. In fact, hope terrifies me. I don't have the ability to fight depression by looking forward. When depression comes knocking I can only take inventory of my life from that moment backward.

Admittedly, there is a wealth of positive and affirming information available to me when I review my history. I can see God's faithfulness in my life. I see how He has provided and how He has kept me safe (more often than not safe from myself). What I can't grab onto is the idea that He is doing whatever He deems necessary in my life that I should bring Him glory. Not necessarily in the here and now....but in the sweet by and by. I don't get heaven.

Oh, I get that hell is bad and that heaven is good and I like the idea of no more sickness, sorrow or war. I used to think that the best thing about heaven was going to be knowing whatever question I asked, I could bank on the answer. Will we have questions in heaven? I know precious little about it. I know I will worship God there but what does that really mean? How different is it going to be to worship Him without my sin getting in the way?

Being honest about your sin isn't pretty. Intellectually I can assent to the idea that He gets to do with me as He wants. Emotionally, I think He is a mean awful God who toys with me like a cat toys with a mouse. Make no mistake, attributing hateful things to God like him enjoying my suffering is sinful. God forgive me, and I mean that, when I am in this spot, that's how I feel. I think He enjoys breaking me. I think He gets off not on humbling me, but humiliating me. When I give in to the voice, when I let my flesh have the final say... those are exactly my thoughts. I can't get past myself in order to hope that there is a future for me in God's kingdom. I hear myself saying, "you can't possibly believe in the God who saves and Christ who redeems or you would have hope."

What am I left with then? What can I do? Taking every thought captive, what do I know about the future? For starters I know that the worst day here is better than a micro-second in hell. As simplistic as that thought is, it keeps me going when I am really down. I am trying to read "When I Don't Desire God: How to Fight for Joy," by John Piper. I don't much like it, but then I don't much like anything good for me when I am like this. I thought this book would be the place for me to go for some tools. So far, it's improving my pitching arm. I keep throwing the book in frustration. I want to get it. I want to have hope and experience joy. I don't want to be broken in this area but I am. When I read books that tell me what joy I should be having I think, "Great, there's one more thing I am doing wrong."

You know what did help? I picked up a book by Max Lucado. I can't remember the title or much about the book at all really, except for one bit. Lucado pointed out that God grew the very tree upon which Christ would be crucified . He provided the soil, the water, the sun to make it grow and the tool to chop it down, everything. He did that knowing what the tree would be used for. Similarly, He saved me knowing exactly who I am and what I would do. Knowing that I would think He was a mean, nasty awful God who toyed with me and enjoyed inflicting suffering on me, He still saved me. That's something to meditate upon. I need to reread Piper's "Future Grace." That's what this is all about....understanding that He will provide the grace I need, when I need it. Perhaps that will be future enough for me for now... knowing that He does trade grace for grace.

Perhaps you need to hang on to that thought too. Maybe you googled depression and for some reason my blog came up. I don't know how you got here but hang in there with me. One minute at a time... let's wait and see where He takes us and hang fast to the promises that are ours for just one more minute.

Lam 3:21-26
21 This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.
22 The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.
23 {They} are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness.
24 "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I have hope in Him."
25 The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.
26 {It is} good that he waits silently for the salvation of the LORD.
(NAS)


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