Monday, January 25, 2016

Light into my darkness

Most of you know that I've been struggling lately with my bipolar illness and I've been fighting depression off and on for the past couple months.
In the last week or so things have felt really dark. I started to succumb to the depression in ways that I haven't for a really long time. I've learned through counseling, prayer and hard work to look at my illness as something I deal with but have choices in. I've learned to embrace the idea that I don't have to give in to all the feelings I'm having even when I'm in the trenches of those dark times. But lately it's been different.
Instead of wanting to be well again and wanting to fight the depression and wanting to surrender it to God I've felt myself desiring to give into the hopeless thoughts and feelings. Where I once wanted to fight I now wanted to give up. I wanted to allow the depression to suck me into the abyss of meaningless, worthless, lifeless living. A few nights ago the fog of the enemy was so thick and so strong I felt I was losing myself. I felt so unlovable, so hopeless, so far from reality, so far from God and so deeply entrenched in the lies of the enemy. He was after my soul. I felt the shadow of death clawing at the back of my feet. I didn't want whatever was true or right. I wanted to give in.
My friends through much counsel and prayer helped me to realize I was fighting the wrong battle. Instead of looking to God in a posture of surrender and rest I was turned around with my back to Him duking it out with the enemy. I was fighting a battle that wasn't mine to fight and a battle that had already been won. I was allowing the enemy reign in my life and he was gaining ground quickly.
Even in this realization that I needed to surrender to God I still felt there was something deeper pulling me towards the enemy but I couldn't get to the core root of what it was.  I was reading scripture, praying yet I felt I was getting further from the truth rather than closer.
It felt as though I was drowning and barely able to keep my head above the water. The greater problem was that instead of wanting the life buoy that God was throwing to me I began to want to drown. I wanted to give up. I wanted satan to take me under. I wanted to resist and fight God. I was incredibly mad at God.
I knew there was a reason that I wanted to run from God instead of to Him but I couldn't figure out what that was.  Rebellion was welling up in my spirit.
Last night a friend sent me this scripture and we talked a bit:
“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭10:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

It didn't really sink in but today I re-read the scripture and God broke through.
This desire to give up, to not fight back, to not surrender to God in the midst of it... it was an attack from the enemy. He was tempting me in my own weakness, knowing where I am most vulnerable.
I realized that at the heart of my wrestling was the belief that this suffering came from the hand of God, that He was testing me and He was the reason for my suffering not the way out.
Somewhere along my journey  I bought that lie that God had chosen this suffering for me. I started to believe that God had given this mental illness as my lot in life and that He was tying me to Himself that way, so I would need Him. My anger came with the thinking that God picked this suffering for me, and that He expected me to endure it.  In that I decided that God must not care for me all that much to give me this plague and expect me to still trust and follow Him in the midst of it. I have struggled deeply with this, even to the point of questioning whether I want to serve THAT kind of God.  I was angry. I was confused and I felt defeated. I surely didn't feel like God was "on my side" or fighting for me. I was too busy thinking He was handing me all my suffering.
God has allowed this suffering, yes. He is fully aware of it and it it first slipped through His fingers before it touched me but He isn't the source.  He's the solution to my suffering. Instead of feeling tied to God through bondage to to this sin and pain in my life He showed me that I'm tied to Him because He chose me and He so loved me that He gave Jesus as the solution to my suffering.  He is fully present and fully aware of my suffering and He only asks me to surrender to Him and allow Him to transform me through His love for me.

His calling for me is not found in my illness. My calling isn't to be bound by the devastation and hopelessness of mental illness. My calling is to live surrendered to Him in the midst of this struggle, to be willing to speak and tell and show the love He has poured out on me, share the grace He extends to me, the Hope He instills in me in the midst of suffering.  He is reflected through my suffering if I surrender to Him in it. He wants me to be a voice for the voiceless, to speak out against the things that satan wants us to keep hidden. He has called me to be real, to be raw, and to BREAK into the silence and darkness that satan works so hard to keep us bound up in. And nothing by my own works but by the Power of His Spirit at work in me in the midst of my unbelief, lack of faith, and misunderstanding.

He has called me to THIS:
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

An oak of righteousness, not by my own right-ness but because He has made me right. Even in my darkest places and darkest days I am all right because I have been made right by Him. I knew this, but the enemy seeks to steal, kill and destroy. He wants to devour us and make us void of all hope. He torments with fear and false accusations. He twists the truth around and if we aren't completely focused on Christ he quickly ensnares us and we fall into the pit of despair. I was blaming God for things that satan is responsible for.

He calls me to be obedient to what He has put before me. If that means I am to endure my bipolar with surrender and faith in Him so that His glory may be reflected in my life then so be it. He calls me to obedience.  I have confessed and repented for my false belief of who He is, and for believing false things about who I am, for choosing darkness and allowing fear and false accusations to rule me. I have repented for my desire to rebel against God. I have asked for His grace to help me choose truth. He is faithful. He is showing me the way out. He is bringing light into my darkness.

When temptation comes our way we must chose to resist the enemy and surrender to God and ask Him to show us the way out. Sometimes it feels like there isn't a way out, but the truth sets us free and when we ask He always provides for us out of His love for us. He is FOR us. So often I think that God must be against me because of the attacks and the suffering I'm experiencing but that's a lie. The truth is that someone is against me but it's not God, it's the enemy. He wants to deceive us into thinking that if God loved us He would prevent us from struggling but that isn't biblical. Christ says "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

I don't know yet how all that's suppose to look but it is revolutionary and so freeing to SEE the truth that He isn't the giver of my suffering and He isn't tempting me.  I was just thinking yesterday morning at church about how I will always have this bipolar illness and if God doesn't choose to heal me that I will never be free from it completely. I felt so discouraged in that thought. A friend today reminded me (Not knowing that I was struggling with this thought) that I will NOT be bipolar forever, there will be a day when there will be no more suffering. O happy day!

God is our solution and He is our source of hope. He longs to save us and redeem us and we only have to open that door and welcome Him in and allow Him to do in us what we can't do in ourselves. That's grace.  He uses our suffering as a means to refine us into His image. He desires wholeness and He made a way through His son Jesus. He loves us so much that He was willing to give up his beloved child so that we, His children could have life and have it victoriously. Through the cross Jesus endured more suffering than we will ever know or experience. This stands to reason that if God loved Jesus with all His heart and yet He was willing to allow His precious son to suffer so that His purpose and plan could be fulfilled then He allows our suffering so His purpose and plan can be fulfilled... NOT because He doesn't love or care for us... but BECAUSE He loves and cares for us and wants us to know and experience that love for ETERNITY.

For all my friends who walked me through this spiritual battle this week, for being Jesus with skin on, for pointing me to my Savior, for listening to the Holy Spirit and fighting on my behalf.... I an eternally grateful. You show me the love God has for me in such tangible ways. I am in awe.

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