We as church-goers often say, “The Lord works in mysterious ways”, especially when God transforms a negative situation into a wondrous opportunity to bless others. Likewise, the enemy often crafts his "presentations" to us in ways that make us believe a good thing is actually bad. This dichotomy was on my mind recently, as I grappled with a seemingly out-of-reach concept that has plagued me at any given point of my life---being content.
Earlier this week, as I headed north to a meeting in Ann Arbor, I was in a funk that’s been hanging around for way too long. Suddenly, a voice chirped up in my head, saying, “You MUST be depressed! After all...how can you not find joy on this absolutely gorgeous, sunny June morning? I reluctantly agreed, “Yeah, I must be!” Now, I must assert that I, in no way, want to offend those who do struggle with depression. Statistically speaking, depression and anxiety are very real battles affecting a staggering 18% of the US population, or 40 million adults, 18 and older. I simply cannot imagine how difficult it must be to wage war with this disorder, day-in and day-out---my prayers are for you.
For me, I believe, there was another force at work that day. I always say, “Don’t believe every crazy thought you have. Just because you think it, doesn’t mean it's the truth.” I also don’t believe it was necessarily a suggestion from the evil one (I don’t like giving him or his minions too much credit for their handiwork), as all the input we get from various media (in general) provide umpteen remedies for any given symptom. Everyone wants to be the provider of the “medicine” to counteract a particular “poison”.
No...in my case, my head was getting in the way of my heart. Depression seemed logical, so I just went with it, and honestly, I had been feeling this way for a few months prior to this particular Tuesday morning. Quickly, another voice chimed in, “Why can’t you just be content with where you are? Paul managed to figure it out!” Suddenly my own paraphrase of Philippians 4 Scripture rung in my head, but, since I can't recall that at the moment, I’ll just go with what Paul wrote:
“...I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:11-13, NLT)
In that moment I thought, “why can’t I do that?” Not that I would even begin to compare myself to Paul, but still. What was/is the secret? The next words that came to mind said, “Look at your history, Chris. What has spurred you on to entrepreneurship? To pursue school and seminary? Ministry? To be the best husband and father possible? What you see as chronic discontentment, might actually be what fuels you to push the envelope and accomplish what you otherwise would’ve missed out on."
What a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders in that moment on Scio Church Road. It all makes perfect sense and I give God thanks for all the ideas, dreams, and visions He has given me over the years. I know now what I’ve always felt deep down, that through my restless discomfort, I’ve serendipitously received a by-product of fulfillment and purpose through those yearnings, bringing me to where I am today. It’s crazy how something so good could masquerade as a crippling condition and I thank God for his gift of discernment.
What “dark cloud” do you wrestle with? Likewise, has God intentionally woven a silver lining throughout, pointing to His eternal goodness and grace? He is a good, good Father!