I have been going to church since before I could walk, so I have had many years to develop a host of misconceptions about the Christian faith, and what it means to be a Christian.
One of these concepts is that God wants me to be strong. Yes, I know He is my strength and all, but since He’s so strong, I felt like I had to be strong as well, for this partnership to truly be a successful one.
So you can imagine my profound frustration when I found myself two years ago battling a period of depression. I remember mornings when getting a glass of water felt like climbing a broken ladder, afternoons with friends when I would just stare blankly at their faces with an awkward smile frozen on mine, nights when I would lay on the ground unable to do anything but cry.
I can’t tell you how difficult it was for me on those nights, to feel God’s embrace around me. I was angry at myself that I couldn’t just sit up, act like a normal person, read a few Bible verses, and pray diligently for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. I was angry that I was acting like a needy little baby instead of a strong woman of faith – or at least someone didn’t cry twice a day.
I kept a prayer journal during that time, and I felt pretty stupid to be basically writing the same thing day after day: “Help me. I’m not okay. I’m hurting. Help me.” I imagined God rolling His eyes at me, thinking: “Here we go again, weak little Mara, always needing help.” I was annoyed at my own prayers, and frankly I felt bad for making God listen to my squeaky little voice.
My comfort at that time came from a surprising source: the laments and cries of King David in the book of Psalms. You’d think the last thing I wanted to read then was another man’s needy voice calling out to God – but that was exactly what I needed.
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?” (Psalm 43:5)
“I’m poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me.” (Psalm 22:14)
When I read David’s words, the last thought on my mind was: “Ugh, weak little David, just pull yourself together.” Instead, I couldn’t help but feel drawn to the raw and honest words of this man who must have had such pressure to appear strong.
That was when I began to realise that God has such a gloriously different definition of strength than I do. He never asks me to stop crying; He never asks me to act tough. Instead, throughout the Bible, He just asks me to trust Him, and to trust that He will redeem me.
It was easier to pray in pain once I realised that God wanted me to acknowledge that I was a needy little baby in desperate need of His grace. It was easier then to hear the tenderness in His voice when He said: “Here we go, my dear child, let me help you.”
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