[Last year, when I was in the deepest part of internal turmoil over my life, I found a book in my school library called Windows of the Soul. It spoke to me on many levels and helped me make sense of my depression. I found my thoughts on a quote from that book today and thought I’d share.]
I think I shall always remember this black period with a kind of joy, with a pride and faith and deep affection that I could not at the time have believed possible, for it was during this time that somehow I survived defeat and lived my life through to a first completion, and through the struggle, suffering, and labor of my own life came to share some of those qualities in the lives of people all around me [emphases mine].
Thomas Wolfe, The Autobiography of an American Novelist
For some reason, this quote really spoke to me where I was yesterday and revives in me a sense of hope that defies logic and the wisdom of this world. Hope that all of this pain is for a reason.
I told Matt last night that hope seems like something too precious to squander, but I’m reminded today that hope in the Lord is not wasted.
Hope in God’s plans will draw me forward in the most important arena, my soul. Circumstances may never change, but hope will change me into salt and light. Hope will change me into someone who loves God well and accepts his love for me, in all its forms. Hope will enable me to encourage, rebuke, and love others in a way that helps to draw them forward as well, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I imagine what I’m going through is similar to the sensations of literally being born. As God prepares me to move forward, the pressure is greater, the shadows surrounding me are darker, and I feel a sense of uncertainty that I have never known before. But all of that will lead to the necessary change on the other side.
I wonder if Jonah felt this way as the great fish proceeded to vomit him out. It couldn’t have been pleasant in the fish, but was the future worse? Jonah hated that he would encounter grace like he had never known in Ninevah. He refused to revel in God’s unexpected, unmerited grace because it didn’t look the way he’d planned.
I wonder if some of my depression is related to my own inability to recognize and celebrate God’s grace when it takes unexpected forms (i.e. depression that leads me to cling to him every day). I’d rather not be sad, but my sadness has given me tunnel vision towards God.
God, may you blow the box I’ve put you in to bits. May you surprise and delight me as I discover the depth of your love for me and those around me in unexpected ways. May I learn to celebrate your grace in all its forms and have hope that runs deep and will not wither in a dry season.
[Fast forward to today. In light of my final prayer, it amuses me that my business cards have a summation of Psalm 1:1-3 on the back: “How blessed is the one who finds pleasure in obeying the Lord. He is like a tree planted by flowing streams; it yields its fruit at the proper times; its leaves never fall off.”]