To speak of the past 6 months as a “desert” experience feels like an exaggeration. I have not been consistently depressed or gloomy, and have had some wonderful experiences — like watching the birth of Redeemer Church. But there have been dark times when I’ve felt weary, depressed, fearful and hopeless that certain things would ever change. Even my times with the Lord, which over the years have often been the joy of my day, required unusual effort. And there have been too many days when I gave into the temptation to allow busyness or sleep to to crowd out my devotions.
One day I was especially hopeless and realized my longing for heaven was increasingly tainted with a desire for relief from the fatigue, stress and “hardness” of life.
Then I remembered a time when I felt that before.
15 years ago I went through a similar season when I first had the thought: “This is why people can get to the point where they just wanna die.” While I had no intention to commit suicide, there was a new empathy for the hopelessness that, when left un-helped, could lead someone to think death was their only escape. Until then, I really didn’t understand how life could become so hard or sad or painful that self-inflicted death was appealing. One of the fruits of suffering is greater compassion and less self-righteousness over how others handle hardship. Such a gift.
Back then, a couple of verses tucked away in the Book of Hosea became a source of great comfort to me.
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope” (2:14-15).
Whether you are going through a hard or perplexing season now, or will in the future, I hope this verse will cause you to be curious as it did me.
More on that tomorrow.