A few weeks ago, I was asked to share my testimony at a women’s Bible study brunch at the end of April. It’s been difficult to find the time to sit down and figure out what I want to share with the ladies in my church. I haven’t shared my testimony in a formal setting in about twenty years, and during those twenty years my testimony has changed in multiple ways. Any time I share my story with someone, I feel called to share a different part of the way that God has transformed me and this time, I’m not sure what direction I need to go.
On my way home from work last week, I heard a new song by Lauren Daigle that touched my heart and reminded me of an important part of my story. When I was in high school, I struggled with anxiety and depression, to the point that I missed about forty days of my senior year. Even though I never had difficulty with school before, I did not want to go to school because I was afraid that I would have a panic attack that would leave me debilitated in front of other people. Eventually, I started going to therapy and taking antidepressants to help me to get back to the point where I could function.
Some people might stop the story there and say that therapy and antidepressants helped them to get out of the abyss of anxiety and depression. But that’s not my story. I remember one morning, I was sitting in our church’s counseling office where I would often spend my days when I wasn’t going to school. The medication wasn’t quite working for me yet, and I was fighting insomnia and random panic attacks while the meds evened out in my system. I called out to God in my need and asked him to rescue me from the depths of my depression. I remember feeling like a light was shining down on me as I reached up to God for help. I can’t say that everything got better immediately, but I was able to go back to school pretty regularly, and I graduated on time with my class despite missing so much school.
Several times in my life, I have been back in the depths of depression. About fifteen years ago, it hit again when I was mourning the fact that I would never have a biological child of my own. At this time, I learned that I could cast out the fear and depression because God has given me victory over depression and anxiety. I began carrying scriptures in my pocket so that I could lean on the promises of Philippians 4:6-7 and Isaiah 43:19.
About five years ago, it hit even harder while my family was trying to help a foster child who was recreating the abuse of his birth family. This time, I struggled with severe insomnia and crying fits that would last for hours. I never thought I would get out of the pit, but with therapy, medication, and God’s rescue, I have overcome depression and anxiety once again. I also accepted the fact that my depression and anxiety are both genetic and physiological not flaws in my character or my faith in God.
As I am finally sitting down to write this part of my story, I am listening to songs by Lauren Daigle. So many of her songs speak to the experience that I have had over and over again of God’s hand of rescue intervening in my life. But her latest song, “Thank God I Do,” resonates with me more than any other, especially the chorus:
“I don’t know who I’d be if I didn’t know you.
I’d probably fall off the edge.
I don’t know where I’d go if You ever let go,
So keep me held in Your hands.”
Lately, my husband and I have been watching The Chosen. To be honest, we avoided it for quite a while because we are usually skeptical of Christian shows and movies. We have several friends that we love and trust who said that we would enjoy the show, but we held out until we finally came to the decision at about the same time: we need to watch The Chosen. If you haven’t watched the show yet, I would encourage you to do so. Even though the writers of the show have created fictional back stories for each of the disciples, the stories of the way that each came to know Christ are so beautiful and so human. Not only that, but they have made Christ so perfectly human in His humor, His grace, His compassion, and His zeal for His Father. I have related to each of the disciples in so many ways as I have watched the show, but recently, I have connected with the story of James the Lesser.
In The Chosen, James the Lesser is written to have some type of physical disability like cerebral palsy. Because of his disability, he often feels less able than the other disciples, but more importantly he questions why Christ does not heal him like He has healed other people. When Christ sends out the Twelve to spread the message, He tells them that they will be able to perform miracles, but James is conflicted.
James confronts Jesus and asks him why Jesus hasn’t healed him yet. He questions how he will be able to heal others when he is on his missionary journey when he is not whole himself. Jesus’s answer to James is both beautiful and challenging at the same time. He tells James that He trusts him. He hasn’t healed James because He trusts James to be faithful to God even if he isn’t healed. He trusts James to heal others in His name, and He trusts that James will glorify God because even in his brokenness he is able to speak of God’s goodness in his own life.
What a challenging idea: when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:10).
My life has been full of challenges that have caused me to feel broken: my parents’ divorce, infertility, never quite fitting in, anxiety, depression, grief. God has healed me of each of these hurts in my life, but there are times when the thorn sticks deep and I feel weighed down by sickness of the soul. Perhaps God has not completely healed me because He trusts me. He trusts me to keep telling my story to others who need to be encouraged by my testimony. He trusts me to walk beside those who are broken by the same diseases as those I have experienced in my own life. He trusts me to tell others that I wouldn’t know who I’d be if I didn’t know Him because I’d probably fall of the edge. He trusts me to tell others that I don’t know where I’d go if He ever let go, but He keeps me held in His hands.
Let it be so in your own life. Let it be as it should be today. I pray for God’s peace to wash over you in this moment. I pray that Jesus is near to you as He is near to me.