I sat on the grey couch across from her, as I had done every Thursday that year. A large throw pillow lay ready to ease the hopelessness that filled the air. My countless attempts to treat the anxiety and depression with natural remedies had fallen short, and just thinking about the side effects of antidepressant medication sent me into a panic. But her words that day grabbed hold of the hope that had been buried deep under my despair:
Clouded by worst-case-scenarios, I failed to see how God could use this painful moment to work something out for my good. Many reluctant years have proven that the seeds planted in hardship can produce some of the richest fruit. The apostle Paul summarized this well in Romans 5:3-5.
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.”
Paul was intimately familiar with hardship. For me, this was a crucial component in his credibility to speak into the vulnerable space of my agony. Instead of promising a “quick fix” (which I wanted), Paul offers a roadmap to discovering the powerful potential of pain.
A Shift in Perspective
The shift in perspective Janie offered me as I consider the many side effects of antidepressant medication had me asking “what if?” in brand new ways: What if God does love me that dearly? What if He’s trying to use the very thing I’m terrified to try (in this case, antidepressant medication) to clear the fog of fear and sadness? What if the side effects of what could go right outweigh the side effects of what could go wrong?
It turns out, they did. Hope caused a potent realization that God’s love for me was unaltered by the state of my mental health. I could love Jesus and see a therapist and take an antidepressant medication without shame. And for me, medication (under the strict care of a medical team) was the missing link in my rehabilitation. Regaining my clarity of mind brought long-awaited relief from suicide ideations and fight-or-flight fatigue. And the seeds of emotional intelligence, mindfulness, boundaries and assertiveness (to name a few) are now reaping rich fruit in my marriage, motherhood and ministry.
A Prayer to Reframe Your Pain
Father God, give me faith to trust Your process. Help me see the countless ways You can and will use my pain to produce fruit that will nourish my hope in You for generations to come. Amen.
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