“So we’ve talked about school and boys now let’s talk about God. How have you and God been?”
It may have been easier to speak if she had asked, “How are you?” or, “How have you been?” But she was specific about everything. She really wanted to know. So for the second time in only a couple of days I had the chance to be vulnerable and honest with a friend.
I took a hard bite out of my meal before answering.
I had been dealing with depression, making sense out of a relationship that ended before it got a chance to begin and I had not spoken honestly about it to anyone in almost a year. I didn’t know how to deal with the pain. I let an emotional wound fester, withdrew from the small circle of friends that I had and grew distrustful of the world in general, subconsciously believing that everyone was out to get me.
I told her that depression was hard and difficult and choking.
I told her that I prayed for God to take away the pain I was feeling.
I told her that He did not.
I told her that I stopped asking and I stopped reading the Bible because it hurt too much.
I figured I’d sort out the heaviness I felt by myself and then come back to God and community when I was back to being the Ibukun that everyone knew, the one full of contagious joy.
When she looked at me, I didn’t see the judgment I expected to see. She didn’t tell me to get over myself like I imagined she would. Instead, she could relate because she had been there. I don’t think I was more grateful for anything as I was in that one moment.
Although I had read this countless times in Ecclesiastes, I did not know how to reconcile it with real life: “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1
There is a time and season for everything.
A time for tears and another for overflowing joy. Contrary to what we may believe, going through dark times of trials, depression, grief does not mean that we are not ‘Christian enough’. Not once in Scripture does it say that we won’t go through difficult times. On the contrary, Jesus even tells us that we will have to deal with pain. And deal with it often.
Yet somewhere and somehow, we have come to believe that being a believer will be a walk in the park. We forget that even Jesus in the flesh was well acquainted with sorrow. It’s a given here on earth that people will hurt us, people will misunderstand us, something or someone we love will be taken from us, and we will have to deal with difficult losses. Our faith will be tested.
This dark season that you are going through and having to deal with? Don’t waste it. Don’t hide your pain from God or throw away your faith in Him. Feel it, become acquainted with the depth of your humanity. Let trials have their refining effect on you. So when you come out on the other end of the tunnel, you will not only be a stronger person but also one who can fully understand when someone tells you they are going through a rough patch. And you can comfort them with the comfort you have received in Christ.
“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us” – 2 Corinthians 1:4