Monday, November 25, 2013

I will not die, but live, and tell of the works of the Lord!

I had the privilege of publicly offering thanks to God at our church on November 17, 2013.

Here is what I am thankful for this year (and much much more):

What has God done for me this year?

He has saved my life and filled me with His praises.

For the past three years I have struggled with depression. It has many causes and may be something I struggle with all my life.

But this is my year of joy.

The joy of the Gospel.

God has enlivened my spirit and helped me understand the Gospel more deeply and fully.

In my darkest days depression, I felt Psalm 42 deeply.

David wrote,

My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”

The enemy taunted me, accusing me of my sin and telling me that God did not love me. I felt weighed down by guilt. I was not the mother, wife, Christian, friend, housekeeper that I “should” be.

I couldn't see or feel God. But that didn't mean He wasn't there, and it did not mean He didn't love me. Our emotions lie to us. Satan lies to us. The world lies to us. But God's Word is truth. He is the covenant keeper who seals His oath with His own blood.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 says:
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ...

God's Word says:

Romans 8:1 says
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:38-39
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When I have bad days, reading God's Word gives me hope and reminds me that what I feel isn't always true.

These promises are my only comfort in the dark moments. The more I read, the more I discover the beauty of the Gospel.

It doesn't matter if I feel like (or indeed am!) a failure.

Galatians 2:16 says
Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

Psalm 43:4 says
Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
O God, my God.

To the altar! The symbol of Christ's great atonement.

I did come to the altar. And there I found joy in despair.

I received a number of unexpected gifts from this season of depression, in addition to a greater hunger for and faith in God's word, and a deeper understanding of the Good News. In the Bible we can find new purpose, identity, hope, and freedom. That's where joy is.

Just as Paul says in Romans 8:28:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Even depression. Even injustice. Even crucifixion.

If you are going through a trial or wilderness in your life, know this: God will bring beauty from ashes. He will give you a testimony of His glory and grace. He will fill your mouth with His praise. He will strip of you of sin and make you dissatisfied you with the lies of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Praise His holy name. I am so deeply thankful for His Word, His love, and His good news!