Embedded in your heart

Have you ever been in a predicament where it seems there is no hope, and you are at the mercy of the predicament itself, and powerless, unable to do a thing about it? Your life or the lives of loved ones may depend on the outcome, yet there is nothing you can do to determine the outcome. You have absolutely no choice in it whatsoever; the outcome depends on people or things outside of your control.

For many years I wrestled with a major depressive disorder that blinded me from hope. I remember one night  looking up at the stars and the sight of them depressed me. It was then I realized I needed help badly! I knew then my depression was beyond dangerous; it was devastating. I needed help.

I remember that, during those times of depression, I wrote a simple sentence, and the thought of it broke my heart; 

“Hope left dangling at trouble’s end

time and time and time again, 

dulls the senses and hones the mind 

to be more wary to hope next time.”

Think about it; can you imagine not being able to hope? Can you imagine having no hope for the present or the future, and thinking there was no reason to hope? Can you imagine living a life in which hope appears to be nothing more than a flickering candle, dying before your eyes? Well, that’s the life I lived for years. But once I was medicated I learned hope abides until the end. As long as we are alive upon this earth, there is hope, because the word of God says, “But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love,” 1 Corinthians 13:13.

Faith, the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen; hope, the expectation and anticipation of good things to come; love, treating others as you would like to be treated. These three things are all present in the now, not only in the past, not only in the future but now, today. And how can this be so? It is so because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. In Him, and in Him alone, there is true faith, true hope, and true love. For He alone is the way and the truth and the life.

Some may ask, “Why didn’t God just heal you, and take the depression away?” I have no answer to that question. I do know I asked Him over and over and over again to heal me, but it seemed as if He didn’t even hear me. At times it actually felt like He had abandoned me entirely. But He hadn’t abandoned me. All the time I was suffering from depression there was hope, even though I couldn’t find it. Although it seemed as if the Lord had abandoned me, He was there all along, watching over me. 

Faith is primarily a matter of the heart and secondarily of the mind; for with the heart man believes, and with the mouth he confesses his belief. My depression was so bad at times I couldn’t grasp faith with my mind, but it was always present in my heart. I believed in God, but I couldn’t overcome the depressed feelings and thoughts in my mind.

From time to time I would recall something He told me. I was in prayer one day asking the Lord to help me get out of the predicament in my mind, and He said one day help would come from Broken Arrow, OK. I knew it was His voice and I knew He wouldn’t tell me something that wasn’t true. Still, the depression took hold of me time and time again for many more years.

We lived near the East coast at the time the Lord told me this. Many years later we moved back to our home state Oklahoma. One of my best friends lived near us and he talked me into going to the VA for my medical needs. He said I had earned it and I should take advantage of it. He didn’t know I suffered from depression.

The first day I went to the VA a nurse spoke with me, asking about my experiences in the Army. I told her a few things about it and she immediately determined that I should see a psychologist and a psychiatrist. I reluctantly agreed to see them. She assigned me to a primary physician and a psychologist and a psychiatrist.

I was soon medicated and my bouts of depression disappeared. Sometime after this happened I remembered what the Lord had told me years before, that help would come from Broken Arrow, OK. The friend who talked me into going to the VA lived in Broken Arrow, OK. Years after this, my friend was stricken with prostate cancer. The Lord was kind to my friend and took the cancer away.

Dear children of God, fear not, for our Lord is closer to us than our own thoughts, and He cares deeply for us. Even when it seems He is nowhere near us, He is still there; He is still closer than our own thoughts. We walk by faith and not by sight, nor do we walk by feelings; never doubt His love and compassion for you. 

We sometimes think our circumstances are reality, but this is not true. Yes, our circumstances will affect us, but true reality is Jesus the Son of God. We are no longer of this world, for our lives are hidden with Christ in God. And in Him, we are more than conquerors in life, and in all its circumstances, and in all its trials and tribulations. 

Regardless of your circumstances, regardless of how your future looks, you are the apple of God’s eye, and He will not leave you, nor forsake you. Keep your faith in Him embedded in your heart, “…for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart,” 1 Samuel 16:7b.

Jon David Banks, God’s most unworthy servant