My 25th birthday stunk. I remember crying on the phone with my best friend hoping that the awful day wasn’t a reflection of the year to come. It was my birthday and I was sitting at home; alone.
If you have read my birthday post, you may remember that I alluded to some pain that I was writhing in. The day before (Friday, the 26th) I was diagnosed with shingles. Shingles is the old chicken pox virus (that never leaves your system) waking up and wreaking havoc on one nerve stem in your body. While it’s mainly a nerve-thing (complete with knife-wielding, sharp pain), a common side effect is a rash on the skin where that particular nerve system ends (I suppose this is where the name for the disorder comes from).
Another side effect happens to be depression. When I was reading up on shingles, I didn’t really think that this could be possible. I even told my discipler this and she promptly gave me a look (and rightly so) that said 1) that’s ridiculous and 2) you will not blame your sin on this. But, after a conversation with a friend I’ve found that I’m not the only one with shingles who was uncharacteristically melancholy.
I digress. While I’m not 100% back to normal on the emotional scale, I am on the other side of my 48-hour depression. Through a conversation today at lunch, I came to an eye-opening conclusion: this was an amazing experience. While everyone at some point in time deals with depression on different levels, clinical depression is a different ball game. And while I never wish those feelings of despondency upon someone else or myself again, tons of lessons can be gleaned from it and used to encourage others.
By the power of the Holy Spirit, the fight of faith can be won even with clinical, non-circumstantial depression. The ability to honor God in all situations is given to every believer at the point of salvation. Faith is the outworking of that power when all our emotions are screaming against it. I am convinced that this is where the power of God is most revealed. It is only by His power in us that we are able to say no to our flesh, no to those feelings of selfishness and lack of life-certainty and walk in a manner worthy of the gospel.
I spent most of my birthday fighting. With every shovel-full of snow, with every phone call, with every knife in my side I was desperately reminded that I was very alone. And while I had no desire whatsoever to do anything but take a bath in those emotions, I forced my self to take them to the cross. I praise the Lord that through His Spirit, I have trained myself to run to the Completer of my faith on a regular basis. That day, while my default was bathing, I ran against everything inside me, blindly running to the cross.
While I didn’t find immediate peace and joy, comfort in doing the Christ-exalting thing or even comfort in God’s Word, I had hope. I had a hope that God’s Word was true; I would eventually see the light at the end of my dark and dreary tunnel. I had a hope that honoring God then would bring great joy now.
In conclusion, exercising faith is a daily habit. I believe that God is most-honored when we don’t want to honor Him but do regardless of our feelings. Honoring God during a mountain-top, emotional high is easy. Honoring Him and His word while in the valley of the shadow of death is hard and impossible without the power of the Holy Spirit. This brings me great joy.
Of all the non-circumstantial promises found in the Bible, this is my favorite:
2 Peter 1:3
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.