A while ago, I was in the car listening to the radio and the Yolanda Adams song “Through the Storm” came on. The song starts out with these words:
The storms of life will blow
They’re sure to come and go
They meet us all at a time
When I’m calm and doing fine
But the Captain of my soul
He’s always on board
He rocks me in His arms
While riding through the storm
A few days later, my pastor preached a sermon about the importance of praising God in the valley. He said that sometimes the valley is a training ground, and sometimes our valley places are where we will stay. Sometimes the valley is to humble us because we have lost sight of God’s presence and power in our lives. My favorite point was that even though the valley can be dark and lonely, you can still grow! We need to have the wisdom and relationship with God to understand which of these situations best fits us. For those of us who struggle with depression and anxiety from time to time, it’s hard to believe the valley has a purpose other than to bring us suffering and make us feel separate from God. I want to suggest that during the valley times, we should seek after God even more fervently – even (especially!) when we don’t feel like it. For a long time, one of my favorite scriptures has been Psalm 42:1.
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul thirsts for you, O God! – Psalm 42:1
It wasn’t until recently that I did some more research and realized that the rest of the Psalm is David crying out to God in a moment of depression. What I thought was an exclamation of joyful praise is actually a desperate cry for God in a dark moment. Imagine how our lives would change if in the moments when we feel most frustrated with God, we cry out to the one that we need just like we need water to survive! For some of us, that may be a hard thing to imagine, but it doesn’t mean that it won’t be rewarding.
Here’s what I know: where ever you are, God is there too. My dad used to tell me God has three possible answers to our prayers: yes, no, and wait. Sometimes when we don’t get the answer that we want, we get mad and want to jump ship. We want to “lean to our own understanding” and do things in the way that makes sense to us. The truth is that God doesn’t promise us that there will be no storms, but there are promises all over the Bible that we will never be abandoned. This really hit home for me as I was preparing for a workshop on the spiritual components of depression. You can’t turn too many pages without finding a scripture that reiterates God’s commitment to be with us every step of the way. For every doubt and question we have while we struggle, God has an answer! Here are just a few:
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)
The Lord upholds all who fall, and raises up all who are bowed down (Psalm 145: 14)
Cast your cares on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall (Psalm 55: 22)
It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. (Deuteronomy 31:8)
These are just the beginning. Even when it doesn’t look right or feel right you are not alone. My challenge to you is to keep trusting through the storm! You might be in the middle of it right now, but it gets better. Trust that even in the valley, even in the dark times, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Keep trusting. Keep going. God is with you every step of the way.
Thanks for reading, and make Well Choices!