Necessary Hope

 

Last updated 5/21/2018 at 3:51pm

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Major Depressive Disorder is the second most common form of mental illness (diagnosed in 6.9 percent of American adults). According to the National Alliance for Mental Illness, anxiety disorders, the most common mental illness, occurs in 18.1 percent of Americans.

The examples of mental health issues, including depression, are plentiful. A stressed-out individual is diagnosed with a mood disorder. A busy stay-at-home mom feels as if her identity is slipping away and starts spending more time in bed. A business professional struggles to earn respect from coworkers. A single person wonders if dreams of marriage will ever come true.

Sometimes we ask, "Where is God when I'm hurting? Does He have a plan?" The answer is an emphatic yes! Not only is God always with us, but also, when we make a decision to get the help we need, we discover we are not alone on our journey of life with depression.

My Story

Looking back, I realize I lived with untreated depression and anxiety from an early age. The symptoms were not severe. My mood swings were explained away as an overly-emotional personality. In college and young adulthood, my symptoms increased, but I believed I could handle my ups and downs on my own. I went to college, got married, had children and hid my depressed mood the best I could.


By the time I reached 40, I felt like I had split personality. I was a "good girl," totally devoted to my husband and children, living a Christian life, and spending hours serving in various volunteer roles. I coexisted with a "bad girl" who threatened to take over. She ignored responsibilities and isolated from the world with increasing frequency.

When depression finally pulled me down, like weights tied around my waist, I could hardly get out of bed. I believed my family and friends would be better off without me. I was on the brink of destroying my most important relationships and wondered how anyone could love me. I repeated, "I'm a horrible person. I'm a horrible person," over and over in my mind.

Our thoughts can be very deceptive, and I believed the lies. I went through periods of guilt and shame, followed by stubbornness and rebellion. I denied the serious nature of my problems. Until I admitted my need for help, healing could not begin.

At the urging of my family I started therapy, but it was a half-hearted effort and I missed many appointments. One bed-ridden day, when I thought I could sink no lower, I heard God's still small voice. It was time to get out of bed, keep my therapy appointment and find the help I needed. The next day, I checked into a psychiatric hospital for intensive treatment. My life has never been the same. My renewed hope in the Lord pulled me out of a very dark place.


Seeking God

During the early days of my treatment, God directed me to a psalm that I have held on to ever since. David wrote Psalm 63 in a low point in his life, and began by reminding us that God is waiting for us to seek Him. He wanted us to recognize God's presence whether we are wandering in the desert or rejoicing in His sanctuary. God reveals His presence when we turn towards Him.

O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you;

my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you,

in a dry and weary land where there is no water. . .

My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.

Psalm 63:1, 8 (NIV)

Finding Hope

The first definition of hope on dictionary.com is "the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best." It can be difficult to have hope when you're hurting. We may question whether this definition is even possible.

The Bible tells us that there is only one place we will find the kind of hope that does not disappoint us. 

We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.

In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.

May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.

Psalm 33:20-22 (NIV)

Every day, we should live with hope, count our blessings and trust in a better future. With Jesus, we have an eternal home where there are no tears. If we move through life without keeping hope alive in our heart, our trials will be harder to bear.


"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the Lord. . . .

Jeremiah 29:11-14 (NIV)

We all experience loss, disappointment, and pain. But God has a plan for our future, even when we don't see it clearly. Jeremiah expresses the same sentiment as David: When we seek God we will find Him.

When we are depressed, we need emotional support from people in our lives. We need perseverance as we work to find the right treatment. And most of all, we need hope in the Lord as our source of comfort and strength.

 
 

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