I woke up a few days ago with this faint echo in my mind. It went something like “fight tomorrow’s battle like yesterday’s war.” Being half asleep at 6 in the morning, I thought that sounded like a pretty catchy line, and I have to admit that I was rather impressed with my pre-caffeinated self. If a little puzzled.
But the more I thought about this little sentence the more I realized that it carried profound meaning for me. Fight tomorrow’s battle like yesterday’s war.... because the struggles that you faced yesterday and today.... you will most likely face tomorrow or at least that Is how my long ongoing battle with depression and suicidal thoughts have been for me.
Over the years the waves of melancholy that have clouded my existence have created a residual doubt in my mind. If I am so sad, am I even saved? If all believers are sealed by the Holy Spirit and joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit and I am NOT joyful, how can I profess to know the Lord? Needless to say these thoughts have only fueled the sadness and worse still fed into the spirit of fear. Have I prayed for deliverance? You bet I have! Am I staying rooted in the Word. Confessedly, not always. But am I consistent now? You bet I am! Have I decreed that the spirits of oppression and depression have no power over me in the name of Jesus? Yes I have..... and still there are times when I can barely keep the constant flow of tears in my heart from pouring out of my eyes.
But finally I seem to have come to a conclusion. It is OK to struggle and you know why? Because everyone has a thorn. It is Paul who related this when he stated that the Lord sent him a “thorn in the flesh” to “buffet” him (2 Corinthians 12: 6-7). This thorn troubled him continually until finally he too cried out to God for deliverance. And you know what the Lord’s reply was? “My grace is sufficient for you.” At first glance when you look at the Lord’s response it seems rather harsh. Surely the creator of the universe could come to the aid of his servant? Especially such a mighty man as Paul! But you know what God’s response means to me? It means that even in the midst of darkness we must keep out eyes fixed on the GRACE of God. Do you have a thorn? Do not condemn yourself for God has only grace and compassion for those in Christ. So comfort yourself in this....your inner turmoil does not dictate your salvation. Being saved does not mean that you are suddenly a finished work.
Yes we should strive for perfection, the grace of God is not a free pass to sin or to let our “thorns” control our lives. But what it does mean is that “though we walk through the valley of the SHADOW of death” he is right there with us (Psalm 23:4). Once, while listening to evangelist Daniel Kolenda, he shared that early on in his ministry, he prayed to God offering him all of the assets he had to offer; any talents or money he had he would give to ministry. But in response to this “holy” prayer the Holy Spirit stated “I’m not interested in your assets, I’m interested in your weaknesses.”
What a comforting thought! Much like evangelist Kolenda the prayers I have uttered consistently have been “use me God, if I have anything to offer, take it!” But....breakthrough has been illusive and the thought in my mind has been “I must not be good enough yet or I’m not truly ready to receive’: falling into the trap of believing that there’s some sort of checklist I need to complete before the Holy Spirit can rest upon me. When the truth is..... there’s absolutely nothing I can do because it’s already been completed by Jesus (see 1 John: 18-19). And I’ve realized that I have been trying to hide my weakness from Christ. I’ve said in my heart, “Lord I can do this and I’ve also got these gifts....but that stuff over there in the corner....just ignore that. But the whole time Christ has been saying “give me the stuff you wish wasn’t there” “Give me your brokenness and I will use it for my kingdom.”
After all, when the Lord was looking for a man to lead the children of Israel into the promised land who did he choose? He didn’t select someone who’d been living among the people, someone they regarded with deference. No. He chose a vagabond living in the wilderness. Moses was an old man, slow of speech who had never really lived with the Israelites; in fact he was scorned by them. Not only was he an outsider, but he was a murderer. In his anger Moses killed a man and then he BURIED his shame before running away (Exodus 2:11). How many times have you or I tried to bury and run from our shame?
And when God was searching for the man who would replace Saul as king. Who did he choose? A boy who was so insignificant that when the great prophet Samuel came to Jesse and commanded him to assemble all of his sons before the Lord, Jesse didn’t think to send for David his youngest. It wasn’t until Samuel asked if he had another son that Jesse remembered David (1 Samuel 16:8) and he must have remembered David with thoughts akin to “ Well yes but he’s just a boy who shepherds the flock. My older sons, these here are my assets!” But again here God expressed the fact that he’s more interested in weakness then strength. God says “send me the one you think is lowly and I will make him great.” And great indeed he made David. David was both a prophet and king, a man after God’s own heart, who went on to father the lineage of Christ.
You see God works in us, not in spite of our weaknesses but because of them; because in our frailty God’s majesty is revealed. Look again at all the great men and women of the Bible. Abraham was a liar who put his wife at risk multiple times, Sarah a jealous woman who doubted God, Jacob a liar and thief, Rachel stole idols, Joseph a braggart, Rahab a prostitute, David an adulterer and murderer, Solomon a glorified philanderer, Peter denied Christ, James & John had such terrible tempers Jesus named them “sons of thunder,” and Paul was a wrathful persecutor of the Church!.... So if God can use all these problematic people, why can’t he use me? Why can’t he use you?
Ultimately, what I’ve realized is that depression in itself is not a death sentence. Look at Isaiah 53: 3 “For he was a man of SORROW and acquainted with much grief. He felt it too. He felt lonely, isolated, overwhelmed. God felt overwhelmed! What a thought? Jesus himself prayed “Lord If possible let this cup pass from me.... but even so not my will but your will be done.” And even though God’s son cried out for deliverance, the Lord still brought him to the cross. “He was punished for our iniquities and bruised for our transgressions” (Isaiah 53:5). ALL of our sin was laid on him. Imagine the burden? But despite the good news of the cross, the best news is that God did not leave him on it. NO Jesus literally walked thought the fire - seized the keys of sin and death - and came out the other side alive again! Hallelujah!
So I’m here to encourage all of us my friends. Myself as much as you. Victory is ours even whilst we are still fighting. Christ is bringing us through because he’s already won and his grace is more than sufficient for us. Hallelujah! Amen.