Hope for the Hurting
Part of what perpetuates our penchant to hide behind a mask, is our inclination to compare ourselves to others. By comparing ourselves to others, we hold ourselves up to the image that they desire for others to see…the public mask they put on display. So we compare ourselves to others who were not given the same personalities, gifts, and talents as we so we will always fall short if we try to measure ourselves against others as our standard. Yet we must align ourselves instead with what we know to be true. The Bible says that we each are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).
When someone is depressed, they have a choice to make: to either let depression define them or to desire joy bad enough to seek after it with obedience and sacrifice. Jesus offered us the same joy he had; the fullest possible joy. What I’ve learned is that thanksgiving and gratitude is the doorway to joy. As Proverbs tells us, we are what we think in our heart. As we become increasingly grateful, God exchanges our worries and sorrow with His peace, joy, and abundant life. Our circumstances may not change, but our mindset does.
My strength was failing. Sorrow was all I could taste. Hope was more than I could bear. I didn’t know what the next day would bring, but I couldn’t stand more of the same. If I was going to fight for my physical and emotional health to return, I didn’t want to be left unchanged. I prayed repeatedly that this torment that I endured would not be wasted and that the Lord would use this experience to draw me closer to Him, AND to help someone else.
Comparison is the thief of joy. Part of the problem with comparison is that you can always find others who have more, do more, and achieve more than you. But on the other hand. But, you can always find others who have less, do less, and achieve less than you. Either way, you aren’t content with where God has you.
Lasting growth, transformation is usually a process. It takes time. Like moving a mountain, one small stone at a time. It’s hard to appreciate the change while it’s happening. It is only after the work is finished, when we are able to look back, that we can appreciate the journey and the lessons learned along the way.
Depression can be perpetuated by focusing on ourselves and our own pain, but when we focus instead on others and their needs, our own pain is lessened.
In the depths of depression, it can feel so very lonely. Like no-one cares, no-one understands. And at times, not even God. I have been there. The Lord showed me that it can be very lonely when we are too busy to take time to rest in His presence and listen to Him. Friend, His word IS true. He promises He won’t ever leave us, but He won’t force us to stay in His presence.
I want to be more intentional about living in the moment, practicing gratitude, appreciating how God has uniquely made me, and resting in Him. With an open mind and open heart, I prayerfully embrace all that God has for me in this next year. Will I stumble? I’m sure I will. And when I do, I will give myself grace. Even Paul acknowledged that he was not perfect nor had he fully arrived spiritually, but he continued to run the race, and I will too. The reward is the honor of being called by God. I can’t think of anything better.
True confession time, I’ve never been a big fan of New Years’ resolutions. As 2013 comes to a close, and you look toward 2014, don’t look at resolutions as something requiring perfection, but rather, an opportunity to pursue personal progress with God’s strength.
There are many who are having a hard time experiencing joy this Christmas. Yet, we ave a home, clothes to wear, food to eat, presents to open. That makes us wealthier than most of the people in the world. But what if we didn’t? What if we didn’t have a home, or a bed to sleep in, or clothes to wear? We would be in good company.
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