Jehovah was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: Jehovah was not in the earthquake.
And after the earthquake, a fire: Jehovah was not in the fire. And after the fire, a soft gentle voice. (1Kings 19:11-12)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Hope in the Storms of Life

It was a cold, winter morning many will never forget. Freezing rain began to fall, bearing down on trees and power lines. It knocked out power for many for days, for weeks, and for some even months. Millions were left in the dark and cold. It took the lives of more that 30 people.

January 5, 1998. My Dad drove us into town in the truck. The roads were slippery and it was a slow drive in. I should have been going back to work after the Christmas holidays. Instead, I was on my way to have surgery that morning. The ENT Doctor had found a lump on my thyroid. After a horrible needle biopsy and a CAT scan it could not be determined if it was malignant. There was a high risk that it could be as a result of the cancer and treatment I had almost 20 years earlier. A total thyroidectomy was required.

I remember sitting in the waiting room with my parents. Wondering about the storm blowing in.

The storm did not affect us as greatly as it did some Canadians in worse hit areas. I actually can't recall many of the details of the storm as I was recovering from surgery the rest of the week.

The tests they did on my thyroid they removed came back negative. It was multi nodular goiter with Hürthle cells. Most likely, they said, it would have become cancerous. Now it was out and I would take medication to replace the thyroid hormone for the rest of my life.

I remember that the ice glistened and sparkled on the trees in the light. How could something that wreaked havoc in so many lives, that broke many trees and lines and lives actually be beautiful?

That storm became known and the Great Ice Storm of 1998.

Fourteen years have passed. And I wonder today, how can something that wreaked havoc in my life and left me broken actually be beautiful?

I had carried on with life as though nothing really had changed. After recovery, I simply began to take a little pill every morning before breakfast. I was married the following year and have had three beautiful children.

But it has been fourteen years of trying to regulate a synthetic hormone. Each time I swell with child my levels are thrown off. Dealing with symptoms as my medication changes gets discouraging.

I am left exhausted. Physically and emotionally. Low thyroid levels can leave one with depression, anxiety and other emotional issues. Honestly, I feel, at times, that I am walking along in a storm of ice beating down on me. Knocking me down and leaving me without power.

I have just come through months of appointments and tests to determine where my symptoms are coming from. I am still looking for answers. I do my own research to find out how I can better regulate my thyroid levels to see if that can help manage some of the health issues I face.

But, in the mean time, I keep on with the name calling. I feel defeated. Forsaken. I don't rely on the Power that is available to me. Why do I do this, when I know better?

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones would have said that I am 'listening to myself again instead of talking to myself'.

It seems as though I acquired the general causes of this condition of spiritual depression that Lloyd-Jones described in a series he preached at Westminster Chapel many years ago: the introverted temperament - this type of person who is 'particularly prone to spiritual depression',  and physical weakness - 'physical conditions do play a part'. And the final cause he expounded on - the devil - 'the adversary of our souls. He can use our temperaments and our physical condition . . .  There is no end to the ways in which the devil produces spiritual depression.'

So, what do I do when I am, as Lloyd-Jones called, a 'depressed Christian . . . a contradiction of terms . . . a very poor recommendation of the gospel'.

"Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me?"

What do I do when I am cast down? The preacher, Lloyd-Jones, he turned back to the Psalmist who talked to himself and we need to look back to him and learn to 'take ourselves in hand.'  These words, that Lloyd-Jones spoke as he exhorted his congregation years ago, still ring true:
I say that we must talk to ourselves instead of allowing 'ourselves' to talk to us. Do you realize what that means? I suggest that the main trouble in this whole matter of spiritual depression in a sense is this, that we allow our self to talk to us instead of talking to ourselves . . . Have you ever noticed that the most unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man's treatment was this; instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. 'Why are thou cast down, O my soul? he asks. His soul has been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands us and says: 'Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you' . . . You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself . . . exhort yourself, and say to yourself: 'Hope thou in God' . . . And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and what God has done, and what God has pledged himself to do. Then having done that, end on this great note; defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: 'I shall yet praise Him for the help of his countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God."

And on a morning that I am feeling broken, when fear is paralyzing and my physical strength seems limited and I know I am hiding away and I feel stuck, I hear a message spoken by Patsy Clairmont on the radio. She says she will, as long as she has breath, encourage others to do three things: Refuse the negative thoughts, replace them with Phil 4:8 type thoughts and then repeat. She also says she would add: read in order to grow.

She speaks of the broken pieces and how when God picks them up and His light touches them they are turned into a kaleidoscope of beautiful pieces.

Do I believe that God can really take the brokenness, redeem it, and make it beautiful? On the days that I am physically and emotionally drained can I remember, as the Psalmist did, to preach to myself: 'Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence.'?

What comes of this hope?

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Ah, but the very God of hope, He will fill the ones who hope in Him with all joy {literally, an awareness of God's grace} and peace {God's gift of wholeness}. That through the power of the Holy Spirit those who believe may be strong.

He is our help. He is our strength. He is our hope.

When the storms of life come we can withstand the weight and press on to that which we have been called.

*Photo source


  1. Praying for you. I just want to say there is no shame in being a Christian who struggles or deals with depression. It makes me sad when that is the message that is given. Many great people of faith also went through this, but it did not mean their faith was diminished. Even Jesus was sad, angry, frustrated at times. I see those times as opportunities to fall on God and let him show up. please don't feel down on yourself because you are exhausted and weak. We all are.

    1. Thanks, Anna, for your prayers. Yes, we are in great company, and are faith is not diminished in these times, yet we must always remember to hope in God.
      Thanks again for the encouragement!


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