Feeling helpless, my heart was spiritually torn. I felt I had no hope of ever pleasing God with evidences of being a “good Christian,” and yet in my heart, I still loved Him. My Spirit was tender when I considered how He went to the cross to save me from my sins, forgave me and offered fellowship to my wretched self. But, part of me felt that God had taken away the only way I knew how to thank and please Him even though from the depths of my soul I loved Him wholeheartedly.
I remember pleading with my Savior—pleading with my all-powerful, all-knowing, loving Savior—to heal me, but received no healing. I tried to have more faith. I even tried to ask God, in a more manipulative way, “God, if you heal me, then I’ll_____ (fill in the blank).”
I tried to find the fine print in the Scriptures: “Ask for the elders to pray over you.” “Ok, if I go to the elders, then God will have to heal me.” Boy, I was looking for just the right prayer, just the right formula, just the right verse to guarantee a positive response from the God of the universe. But I received no healing.
“Hold My Heart,” sung by Tenth Avenue North, echoed my own lament: (paraphrased)
“How long will I keep praying to You to intervene? How long will You leave me waiting? How long until I’ll even see Your face again? Please, Father, return to me! I’ve got no other options, but to drop to my knees and plead with You.
“So, here I am with so many questions. But I’m done asking ‘Why?’ In my heart, I know that Your promises are true. What I’d do anything to find and experience is intimacy with you. I’m just one person in a million, but my heart is breaking and all I know is that I need You. Please Lord, come draw me into Your embrace and show me Who You are!”
Eventually, I distinctly felt the Spirit of God say to me, “My grace is sufficient for you. Stop praying that prayer for healing! I’ve heard you. Stop asking to be relieved of something My will is imposing on you! I’ll heal you if and when I am ready to heal you. I just want you to wait and be still!” I wasn’t happy with that response. It felt pretty unfair, but I knew that was what God was asking me to do.
In his book, The God Who Hears, W. Bingham Hunter said, “You should know before you go further that I passionately disagree with the notion that prayer is a way to get from God what we want. Christian prayer, as explained in Scripture, seems something else entirely: Prayer is a means God uses, to give us what He wants.”W. Bingham Hunter: “The God Who Hears”
You see, my prayer was about escape! It was about my desires, not God’s desires! I learned later that escape wasn’t what He wanted to accomplish in me! He wanted to heal my broken heart! But regardless, God would be faithful to me, and His Spirit would interpret this selfish sinner’s prayer to the Father, and God would indeed hold my heart through my sea of pain. And when it was over, His grace would be enough for me, too!”…
Anyway, the thing that bothered me the most about having an affliction that affected what I did and how I thought was whether it was my fault when I did what I didn’t want to do or think—the issue of culpability. The counselor had advised me not to try to fight off the semi-truck of depression symptoms that inevitably were going to slam into me as there was nothing I could do to stop them.
Similarly, in my meditations with the Lord, for my spiritual comfort, the Holy Spirit asked me to set my thoughts on the everlasting mercy of God, and not on my failures, because in my depressive states I could not stop the locomotive of self-defeat and self-hatred.
There was no way to better myself into a righteous state and I knew it. I’d find myself feeling, looking and acting far from spiritual, but there was never a depressive event when I could stop the depravity of my human heart from rushing in and out like a tsunami. In His kindness, I felt the Holy Spirit advise me not to focus on me, the sinner, but to set my eyes on God, my Savior. In other words, “Just stop trying to be the poster child for righteousness, Heidi.”
Truthfully, I wouldn’t necessarily advertise to others these two decisions I’d made: 1) not to try to stop my mental/emotional depression from overtaking me, and 2) not to try to stop the depravity of my sinful soul from throwing up all the unrighteousness in me that I hated. But, just those two simple gracious allowances made my depression somewhat more bearable.
Yes, it was miserable. Yes, I hated the sadness. I hated the emptiness. I hated the irritability. I hated all the family events I was missing. I hated sensing how pathetically I felt people viewed me. Yes, it was stealing away years of the life I truly wanted to live, and all my dreams.
But deep in the recesses of my soul I found a grace that removed the heaviest of impossible expectations of perfection and self-control from my shoulders and my broken heart. And that, my friends—that grace made it just bearable.”
This has been an excerpt from my book, “Discovering God’s Grace in Depression.”
Chapter 15: Am I Culpable for sin?
But deep in the recesses of my soul I found a grace that removed the heaviest of impossible expectations of perfection and self-control from my shoulders and my broken heart. And that my friends—that grace made it just bearable.”Tweet