You never know when God might use you unexpectedly. But if there’s one thing I know, God will use even your pain for good.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28

On a Sunday some time ago, the worship service ended as it always does, with our pastor offering for anyone in need of prayer to come to the altar to pray with one of the altar ministers. I had long felt a tug at my spirit to offer my time as an altar minister, but hadn’t pursued it. I always listened to others’ prayers and never felt mine were as eloquent or as poised or powerful.

Yet on this particular Sunday, the need was great. Every available altar minister was busy praying, and others were waiting in line to receive prayer. The altar ministry coordinator came over and asked, “Michelle, will you pray?”

Without hesitation, I answered, “Of course!”

No sooner did I walk up to the altar, and a sweet lady approached in tears. She shared that she had been battling depression and was struggling to trust God. I smiled, as I looked into her eyes and relayed, “He sees you. He loves you. It’s no accident that you are standing before me today. I’ve been exactly where you are, and He has brought me out on the other side…”

Her eyes, while still glistening from tears, brightened because she knew I understood her pain. She knew she could trust me with her hurts as together we cried and brought her brokenness to God in prayer.

Years ago I suffered through a painful bout of major depression. It was so bad that much like Job, Jonah, and David, I cried out to God that if that was all my life was going to amount to, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go on living. BUT if He chose not to take me home, then I wanted my experience with depression to count for something.

I wanted Him to use my pain. I wanted Him to be true to His word in Genesis 50:20 and use what the enemy intended for evil for something good: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.”

When I was in the valley of depression, you would have been hard pressed to convince me that anything good would come from that experience. But that time made me press in deeper to my relationship with God.

It also gave me a deeper level of understanding and compassion for others who walk through that dark valley and feel alone.

Through it, He taught me the importance of addressing the spiritual aspects of depression in order to find true help, hope, and healing.

And now that He has brought me out to the other side, He often gives me the opportunity to offer the same comfort to others that He offered to me.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. (2 Corinthians 1:4)

Some things are difficult to relate to unless you have been through them personally. Depression is one of them. Now that I’ve walked that dark and lonely valley, I have much greater understanding and compassion for others who are walking that road.

My heart goes out to them from a place of knowing. While our experience may be different, I can relate on a level of shared pain and I can enter in from a perspective of “Me too!” that I never could have if I had not travelled that road myself.

Walking with another in their pain is a beautiful thing, and it brings beauty for our own ashes. It’s what allows Jesus to sympathize with our suffering.

If you are going through a difficult time today, let me encourage you that God sees. He is with you, and He will use it for your good and for His glory. Our experiences qualify us for His service.

May I pray for you?

Dear Heavenly Father,
You know the hurts and the cries of the one reading this page right now. You see the tears and you know the pain. It is written that you are near to the brokenhearted and you save those who are crushed in spirit. I ask now, Lord, that you would be especially close to your child who is hurting. That you would extend comfort, and lend shelter under your wing. That you would renew their strength. And that by your sovereign hand, you would bring good from whatever the enemy intended for evil, and that you would bring beauty for the painful ashes they are enduring. Comfort even now so that one day they may comfort others with the same comfort you offer now. In Jesus’ precious name I pray, Amen.

Because of Him, #HopePrevails!

By 2020, depression is going to be the greatest epidemic worldwide. Every year one in ten adults is diagnosed, and at some point in their lifetime, one in four people will be diagnosed with this dark condition. If you found this post encouraging or educating, would you please be an Ambassador of Hope and consider sharing it so that others would find help and hope as well?

Exciting News!

The Hope Prevails Bible study release date is October 25th!

Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor's Personal Journey Through Depression Bible Study release date October 25, 2017

Are you or is someone you love experiencing depression? This book offers tangible help, hope, and healing from someone who’s been there and has come out on the other side.

In this Bible study companion to Hope Prevails: Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression, Dr. Bengtson, a neuropsychologist with over 25 years of experience, shares both her clinical expertise and her own personal journey through depression.

Dr. Bengtson’s personal experience is interwoven with questions for reflection, key thoughts, music playlist suggestions, resources, plus a leader’s guide.

This Bible study can be used as a companion to Hope Prevails or independent study by an individual or is perfect in a small or larger group study. Useful for churches and counseling practices.

“Authentic connections, raw insights, and powerful truths. A great resource for individuals that would be highly beneficial to both church and counseling groups.” ~ Pastor Debbie Kitterman, Founder, Dare 2 Hear Ministry

 

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God sees the tears. He knows the pain. He is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. By His sovereign hand, God uses your pain for good and brings beauty for painful ashes.

 

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