I woke up the other day feeling anxious and depressed, more than I think I ever have before. I could write all the thoughts I felt crushing me that have been feeding that, many that are serious enough things to be concerned about, but somehow I had let these things become out of perspective in my thinking. Many of these things are important and need to be discussed and hashed out in our society, but most of them are not my responsibility. I started to write about the things I’m concerned and frustrated and depressed about several times, but each time I felt a check in my spirit, and I decided to keep the details to my private journal and private prayer closet. Except for this one: I miss church. I just do. I miss the refreshing of the soul we get when we see each other singing and see each other responding to the Word being preached. Virtual services are nice, since we can’t have the embodied meeting together, but in no way is it enough.
So, with that background, the blues that hit hard the other day and which I’m battling to keep in proper perspective, today, during my morning prayer time I read this in one of the prayers from The Valley of Vision and it spoke right to my heart:
“Remember, O my soul,
It is thy duty and privilege to rejoice in God:
He requires it of thee for all his favors of grace.
Rejoice then in the Giver and his goodness,
Be happy in him, O my heart, and in nothing but God,
for whatever a man trusts in,
from that he expects happiness.”
As I read and prayed through that, when I got to those words, “for whatever a man trusts in, from that he expects happiness,” I stopped and realized that the frustration and depression I am feeling in response to all these things I’m not discussing in detail are, in fact, a gift of grace, because that anxiety and depression are pin-pointing areas I have been sinfully placing my trust and hope for happiness in, without even realizing it.
We are working on our last lesson from the book of Romans in our women’s Bible study this week, and after months of focusing mostly on Romans 8, this gentle reminder to check the idols in my heart and keep my focus and trust and hope grounded on nothing but God Himself is landing on prepared soil in my heart, where I’ve been meditating and pondering just what it means that God works ALL THINGS for the good of the people who love Him and are called according to His purpose. All things means all things, even this season of not being able to meet together as a church family, and even those things I woke up anxious and depressed about. So, while the tears are real, and the concerns are real, so, too, and more so, is the genuine, deep, underlying, soul uplifting hope real. I don’t have to be crushed by anxiety and depression. I may not be able to control all the physical responses or stop the tears immediately, but I can fix my eyes, even when tear-filled, on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith and purpose in my heart to present my body as a living sacrifice and renew my mind by the washing of His word and choose joy, because He is the sustainer of our joy.
A few other practical things I’m doing to reorient my thinking and keep things in perspective:
-I’m taking a mental health break away from Facebook and Next-door. I don’t need one more preachy article about how anxious the secular world thinks we need to be right now and I’m tired of the memes and lectures
-Focusing more purposefully on the scripture passages I’m trying to memorize
-Taking time to pray whenever I feel the anxiety or depression rear up
-Talking through these things with my husband, who often has a great way of helping me see things in proper perspective
-Staying in God’s word and remembering that He is sovereign and His Providence is good all the time
-Listening to good podcasts (Truth for Life with Alistair Begg, Wretched Radio with Todd Friel, Just Thinking with Virgil Walker and Darrell Harrison)
-Making sure to take some time often to listen to doctrinally rich music
Because whatever a man trusts in, from that he expects happiness.
“Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
that he may deliver their souls from death
and keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.”