Face to face with depression (read Part 1 to catch up): I wanted to sleep all the time, I wanted to avoid reality, I would go to work and have to leave early or not go in at all, I didn’t feel like praying or worshipping, I was pushing my family away, I avoided the church for weeks. All of the things I loved and brought light into my life, I was now desperately trying to drown in the darkness of my cave. How did I get to this place? I felt so rebellious towards the God that I loved so much. I remember my husband and I were home alone on a beautiful, sunny Saturday (if you live in Chicago, you know how rare those are) and my husband wanted to take a walk or go on a date somewhere. Instead, I sat in the seating area in the corner of our room and started wailing. As I write this, my heart can feel the pain I felt in that moment. I couldn’t speak any words, I just heaved sobs that came from the depths of my soul – where all these questions resided “Why God? Why us? Why has this process been so long? What more do you want from us during this wait?” On another occasion, my husband was so worried about me, he came home from work in the middle of the day – he found me upstairs on the bed curled up like a fetus, numb to everything around me. I couldn’t even cry. He laid next to me and just held me, he offered for us to go see a counselor to which I told him no human being had the cure or answer to what I was going through, but that I appreciated his efforts in trying to help me. I begged him to let me go through this cave experience for however long it took me to come out. THIRD LESSON LEARNED! I went against one of my own rules: when in crisis, always remember to keep your marriage united. I am grateful and blessed beyond measure that my spouse is a Godly man that was still fighting for us when I didn’t have the strength or will to do it myself. He knew this was spiritual and he was determined to pray me through this season of my life.
Out of mere habit and routine, I remember forcing myself to crack open the Bible one morning and I flipped it open randomly (I never do that, usually I have some sort of rhyme and rhythm to my devotionals but that had gone out the window in this season). In my mind I was thinking, “Lord, if you have something to say to me, say it now!” and it landed on 1 Kings 18 & 19. I read them quickly and closed my Bible, thinking really? What does this have anything to do with my life right now? Uggh, just another disappointment. The next Sunday morning, while we were getting ready to leave for church, my husband tuned in online to the sermon from Elevation Church and when I heard Pastor Steven Furtick say open your Bibles to 1 Kings 18:41, I froze dead in my tracks. I told our family, be on the couch in 10 minutes, we are tuning into this sermon. God is obviously trying to say something! And for once in nearly 2 weeks, I felt excited.
The sermon was called “Coming Out of the Drought”. Pastor Furtick expanded on these chapters in a way I didn’t see it the first time I read it, probably because my spirit and mind were closed off to anything God was trying to say the first time around. FOURTH LESSON LEARNED! God cares too much to stay silent while one of His children is suffering. If you get a verse, a sermon, a book, a call from a friend during a time of drought, be sure to dig deep into what exactly God is trying to say to you – because He is anything but silent. If I would’ve been still, prayed, and searched for His message the first time, perhaps my drought would’ve ended earlier. But I am so glad He doesn’t relent and give up trying to get our attention. He will use anything or anyone to get His message delivered! These chapters talk about a great prophet (a person regarded as an inspired teacher or proclaimer of the will of God) named Elijah – he was regarded for being a great miracle worker. In chapter 18, Elijah worked some of his greatest miracles (the show down of gods and the great rain in the time of famine & drought). Then in chapter 19, Queen Jezebel mandates the execution of Elijah, so Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. He came to a tree, sat under it, and prayed that he would die. He tells God, “I’ve had enough Lord, take my life.” It goes on to say that Elijah fell asleep under the tree and God sent an angel to feed Elijah and says “Get up and eat.” So Elijah ate and he fell asleep again. Man, this sounds eerily like my life for the last 2 weeks up to this point – having a mountain top experience, being threatened by an enemy (in my case, THE enemy), running away in fear, telling God I’ve had enough, praying that I’d rather be dead, eating and sleeping. Yep, to the T! Then the angel comes back a second time and told him “Get up and eat, the journey is too much for you.” So Elijah ate and was strengthened, he journeyed 40 days & nights to the mountain of God and went into a cave and spent the night. God finds Him in his cave and asks “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah answers God telling him all of his woes – “I’ve done your work Lord. I put all the false prophets to death. Now they want to kill me, too.” (Like God doesn’t know all this already, I’m also guilty of reminding God of my sorrows like He doesn’t already know them). Then the Lord says to him “Go out and stand on the mountain because my presence is about to pass by.” It says that a powerful wind, an earthquake, and fire came by but the Lord was not in any of those events. Then came a gentle whisper and a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah repeats the same woes he told God before. The Lord responds to him and says (in my summary), “Go back the way you came, even though you feel alone, you are not alone.”
FIFTH AND FINAL LESSON LEARNED! Elijah experienced a mountain top moment, throwing out miracles left and right, and immediately after, he came face to face with fear even to the point of desiring death. He is regarded as one of the greatest prophets in the Bible, if he is not exempt from a cave experience, neither are any of us – no matter how strong we think we are spiritually. But the good news is, God won’t leave you in a cave when you have an assignment and calling on your life. He will come looking for you. He will send ministering angels to strengthen you for your journey (twice or more times if He has to). He will make sure to show Himself real to you, most times we want it in a tangible way, but I learned from Elijah’s experience that God showed Himself in a gentle whisper. He will tell you to be obedient and return to that very assignment you tried to let go of and ran away from in fear, reassuring you He will provide the resources and the help you need to run the race set before you. I am happy to say that this cave experience is over and that I have returned to my assignments with excitement and expectation of the great things God will do, but I will never forget or despise the lessons learned in that cave. Neither am I naïve now to the schemes of the devil, the next time I set myself up to do something big for God’s glory, I am better prepared for the fight. Bring it on!