The early morning temperatures were frigid, enough to make me want to stay in bed. Yet I knew if there was anywhere I might sense His presence, where He might see me, it would be in His house.
I half-wondered if the tears would freeze on my cheeks as I drove the deserted roads alone that morning. Pulling my cape around my head and neck to block the wind, I hoped it might shield any onlookers from noticing my blotchy eyes and puffy cheeks as I skirted from the parking lot into the building.
1. God knows your needs. “I’m glad you are here.”
I spotted her as I entered the sanctuary, but diverted my gaze. Somehow I just knew if she could see into my eyes, they would let her glean the condition of my soul…empty and wanting, devoid of its usual peace and joy. Not one to fake it, my well was empty. She greeted me with a gentle smile that said, “I’m glad you’re here.” She didn’t know, but I did…
2. God knows when you need the embrace of a friend.
She showed me to my seat and as I turned to remove my cape, I was caught in the embrace of a friend as she asked, “How’s my joyful friend?” She shared of a dream she’d had of me the previous night and told me how the Lord had had me on her heart the past week. She didn’t know, but I did…
3. God knows when to send a friend to fill an empty seat.
As the service was starting, the seats where my family would normally sit next to me remained vacant that day, or so I expected. A quick movement caught my glance as the lights dimmed, and a precious voice whispered in my ear, “I’m sitting next to you today.” She didn’t know, but I did…
4. God knows: man makes plans but God directs our steps so we’re right where we need to be.
The music started and my heart started to beat anew. I always loved this part of the service. I could spend hours singing and lifting my hands in worship. And yet today, the words were choked back by tears that were quickly replaced with sobs I could hardly explain. I was undone. All I knew was that I was right where I needed to be. As the worship leader began leading the congregation in singing the song “Good Father,” he didn’t know, but I did…
Our usual pastor was away for a couple of Sundays, and the associate pastor rose to take his place. Of all Sundays, he chose to preach on the passage from Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT): “Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
5. God knows when your burdens are great and you’re too weary to fight alone.
It had been not just a hard week, or a hard month, in full-disclosure, it had been a hard year. I don’t know what any of the other members heard that morning, but the pastor might as well have been preaching only to me. He didn’t even know me, nor know of my need, but I did…
At the end of the service, as they did every week, the church offered a time of prayer for anyone who needed it. If there ever was a time, this was when I needed it. My burdens were great, my pain was high, and I needed help holding up my arms as I was too weary to fight alone.
6. God knows: when you’re the one who always gives, it’s OK to receive.
As the tears flowed, I walked forward to the one who had welcomed me with her smile. It was as if she had known I would come. She was waiting with arms open wide, ready to accept me regardless of my tired and weary state, with a warm embrace, a heartfelt prayer, and an encouraging word that it was ok to receive for a change instead of always being the one to give. By the end, there were three women who circled around me to shore me up with their prayers, to stoke my fighting flame and to remind me of the power that resides within me, and to encourage me to stand, all the while resting in Him. They didn’t know, but I did…
As I prepared to leave and head back home, my friend pulled a small package from her purse and handed it to me. “You know what it is, don’t you?” She smiled big, as I responded in kind. “I suspect I do.” I had been collecting holiday socks and sharing photos on social media, because people responded with such delight and joy, that it brought me joy to do so. I opened the package to find yet another pair of socks, this time covered in hearts. She didn’t know, but I did.
You see, what no one knew but I did was that for weeks before, circumstances were grim, and in the days before, pain was excruciating and unrelenting. I was tired and oh so very weary. I had called out to God in the light of day and the dark of night. In my head, I knew He was there, but in my heart, I longed to know He saw me…that He hadn’t forgotten me. And over, and over, and over in the span of an hour, He showed me repeatedly, I see you. I love you. You aren’t alone. And you’ll get through this.
God’s too good to be mistaken. And He wanted to be sure I saw HIM.
Friend, I don’t know what you might be going through today, or the circumstances you are facing. Let me encourage you that God sees YOU. He hasn’t left you. He knows right where you are, and He’s there with you, loving you and providing for you. Go to Him and let Him carry those burdens, and let Him give you rest.
Because of Him,
(If you have a question you’d like Dr. B to answer, contact her here now. Your name and identity will be kept confidential.)
A short brief about Hope Prevails.
Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression
Dr. Michelle Bengtson
Speaking from personal and professional experience, a neuropsychologist unpacks what depression is, shows how it affects us spiritually, and offers hope for living the abundant life.
Neuropsychologist Offers Hope to Those Struggling with Depression
-By 2020, depression will be our greatest epidemic worldwide
- An estimated 350 million people worldwide suffer from some form of depression
- As with the bestselling My Stroke of Insight, the author experienced the same condition she treats
- Helpful features include personal stories, biblical truths, prayers, and music recommendations
In Hope Prevails, Dr. Bengtson writes with deep compassion and empathy, blending her extensive training and faith, to offer readers a hope that is grounded in God’s love and grace. She helps readers understand what depression is, how it affects them spiritually, and what, by God’s grace, it cannot do. The result is a treatment plan that addresses the whole person—not just chemical imbalances in the brain.
For those who struggle with depression and those that want to help them, Hope Prevails offers real hope for the future.
Hope Prevails is available now wherever books are sold. To find out more, see: http://drmichellebengtson.com/hope-prevails-book/.