All of our wilderness experiences are different. Few will experience a 40 year dry spell like Moses, some may experience 40 days like Noah or Jesus, and others may only have a three day experience like the Apostle Paul. I know for sure that our times in the wilderness are not meant to last forever. God does not waste any of our life experiences and promises that although, life might not feel good right now, he works all things for our benefit and for the purpose of transforming us into the image of his son, Jesus Christ (Rom 8:28-29). I am thankful for fellow Redbud, Connie Jakab, vulnerability and willingness to share her wilderness testimony. May it encourage your heart today:
It was one of those days. You know one of those days where everything seems to go wrong and your emotions are out of whack? Yes, it was one of those….
Many would never guess but I struggle with discouragement and loneliness. With both my boys, I have experienced depression after giving birth. People perk me up, so on the outside nothing seems to be wrong, but on the inside, and when I’m alone at home, it’s a struggle I continue to battle.
I found myself asking God yet again today “Why do I struggle with this?” “Why do I feel lonely and alone when I have wonderful people who surround me?” It is something I wrestle with understanding.
I went through a period of depression in my twenties as well. What I’ve noticed with depression and loneliness is that when you’re in it, it’s hard to snap yourself out of it. Your world shrinks into a tiny ball of “me” syndrome. It’s not that you mean to become absorbed with “self”, but you do. The world is a dark place and everything is disappointing. If you’ve never battled with depression, it’s almost hard to comprehend how someone could feel this way. Before I experienced it myself, I used to think that people who dealt with depression should just “be more positive”. Now that I’ve tasted it, my empathy and understanding has grown. It’s not as simple as I once thought.
When I was struggling with depression in my twenties, I went to my pastor to talk to him about it. He said something that has impacted me a decade later. He said, “Tell your soul to bless God.” Many in response to this could easily think; “How ignorant!” “That’s easy for him to say!” But I tell you, I did it. I did it every day and I noticed something; I noticed a change in my focus. When I started to make the choice to bless God right from my inner-most being, I noticed the hole I felt got smaller and I started to rise out of it. It didn’t happen in an instant but gradually after time; after making the choice to do it over and over again, consistently.
I’ll admit, it’s still not my first reaction when discouragement comes knocking. In fact, I almost have to get to the bottom of that pit again to remember.
So what on earth does it mean to “tell your soul to bless God”? Psalm 103:1-2 says “Bless the Lord O my soul and ALL that is within me bless His holy name. Bless the Lord O my soul and forget none of His benefits”
The word “bless” in the Hebrew language means: “to kneel, bow, praise.” And “soul” in Hebrew means: the innermost part, the “guts” as I like to say. So in other words this verse is saying; “Bow your innermost part to God. Praise God from the heart no matter what”. ALL that is within me…. everything…. the good, the bad, the ugly: bless Him! It’s a choice, a constant mindset to be made. I feel it speaks of vulnerability and honesty to God as well. The soul is our deepest place. I feel this verse encourages us to not hide what we feel from Him, but expose ourselves to Him. The key? Don’t forget His benefits! I bless Him when I don’t forget all the amazing things He has done for me.
Thankfulness destroys depression in its tracks. It sounds like the right answer, but having experienced it I can say that it does work. The hardest part is making the choice to do it. The reason for this is because, in some sick, twisted way, when you’re depressed, something deep inside you actually wants you to STAY depressed. When the choice has been made to bless God, to remember His goodness and to be thankful, the sun comes out and pit disappears.
So friends, right now as I write I’m choosing to bless God. And as I write this I feel my spirit brighten. And as much as I now feel quite exposed and vulnerable, I can only hope that my openness has been able to bring you hope and encouragement.
Will you choose to bless God today? Will you choose everyday to remember his benefits?
Connie Jakab is the author of the blog, Culture Rebel (www.culturerebel.com), which is also her first book title released this coming fall, 2012. The founder of WILD (women impacting lives daily) as well as Mpact (www.mpactdance.com), a dance company that produces shows based on social justice issues, Connie drives her passion outward into the arms of those wanting something more radical and meaningful in life. She can be found on twitter @ConnieJakab