Joy Despite…

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joy despiteOver the past few years I’ve been through some pretty difficult times – in fact, during one very damaging period, I suffered from an emotional breakdown as a result of what we were going through. There are things in life that can cause us more suffering than we could ever have imagined. Yet, even in my blackest times, God has been my anchor giving me peace, hope and, yes, even joy. Joy despite it all.

As I read the news every day I am appalled by the horrific suffering that goes on in our world. Disasters, poverty, marriage breakdown, cancer, abuse… terrible, terrible things that tear families and people apart.

My own experiences of pain and desolation over the past few years have been, at times it has felt, almost more than I can bear.

Of course, there is great comfort to be found from God and His great love for us when we are going through hard times.

Yet, there were times when I was depressed and in the middle of my problems I felt completely abandoned by God.

The darkness seemed so great that I wasn’t able to know God’s presence at all.

I doubted the goodness of God, after all, why would a loving God allow me to suffer in such a way?

When you are going through or have been through incredibly difficult times of suffering it can seem really trite when people start talking about having the joy of the Lord. If you are in the midst of depression any suggestion of joy can make us balk as it can seem so far away from reality.

I must admit that I have often struggled with some of Paul’s teaching about joy. How even though he suffered so much he can boldly claim that he is content no matter what. That he has joy despite…

I’ve worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death’s door time after time. I’ve been flogged five times with the Jews’ thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I’ve been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I’ve had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I’ve been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I’ve known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather.

And that’s not the half of it, when you throw in the daily pressures and anxieties of all the churches. When someone gets to the end of his rope, I feel the desperation in my bones. When someone is duped into sin, an angry fire burns in my gut.

2 Corinthians 11:23-29 – The Message

In the book of Philippians Paul talks about how he has learned to have peace and joy despite his circumstances, despite it all.

There is great danger in this teaching being interpreted wrongly and Christians can end up being pressurised to always live in a state of happiness no matter what they face in life. “Smile, Jesus loves you!” This kind of attitude can be very damaging.

Christians get depressed. This does not make them weaker in their faith. It just means that they have experienced suffering which has caused pain, sorrow and grief within them so severe it cannot be contained. It has become a chronic problem that they need to work through and allow prayer, sometimes medical help and, above all, time to recover and heal.

Paul is not talking about Christians needing to walk around in a state of euphoric elation all their lives, no matter what problems they experience. The Bible does not condemn sadness, grief, depression. In fact, the Bible contains many stories of people who experience these emotions. Even Jesus.

Joy in contentment

Paul does testify that we can feel a sense of deep contentment from knowing that we are loved by our Father God and saved by His grace.

I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things though Him who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:12-13

Joy in hope

The Bible teaches that the trust we can place in God gives us a sense of hope knowing that God only has plans to prosper us never to harm us. Even when we go through tough times there is hope in what God promises us.

‘For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and  a hope.”

Jeremiah 29:11

Joy in God’s comfort

No matter what we go through God promises to never leave us, to be with us, strengthening us and comforting us. The joy we can know of being able to lean on God when we suffer, sensing His love, His compassion and His comfort.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, of You are with me;
Your rod and staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4

My prayer is that during this series we can talk about the joy we can experience in our relationship with God, even when life throws some rubbish at us.

Yet, I want us to be real about the pain. About the fact that depression happens and it doesn’t make us less of a Christian if we experience it.

I would love to hear from you during this series – it is so encouraging to share our experiences and thoughts. So go on.. leave us a comment.

joy despite

Part 2 – Joy in Fellowship – The Blessing of Facebook, Twitter, etc…

Shared today with Michelle De RushaBeauty in His GripThe Better Mom, The Alabaster JarA Mama’s Story, Heart Reflected and Mom’s the Word

Photo credit – Michelle Dennis via Stock.xchng

About Mel Caldicott

I'm a full-time mum who has spent a lot of time and prayer working out how to make the Essential Thing a priority in the midst of running a home, raising her kids and having fun with my family.
I love reading, playing Uno with my family, listening to music, gardening, coffee and chocolate!

Comments

  1. Danielle Eley says:

    This is reassuringly real, why do Christians feel that they can’t admit they feel depressed? It’s as if they think they are somehow not allowed to be if they know Jesus. But surely as Christians we should be showing how during times of sadness, difficulty and pain, Jesus draws closest to us and does the most growth in us!

    • Melanie Caldicott says:

      Danielle, this is is soooo true! We need to witness to the power of God not pretend that we never go through what everyone else experiences. It sets us apart from the rest of the world instead of demonstrating the peace of Christ. Thanks so much for sharing, lovely friend. Blessings to you and your family.

  2. Thank you so much for this blog, Melanie! I came across your blog one day when I was feeling at my wits end. I’ve been following your devotionals ever since!

    Anyway I just wanted to comment on this today because I’m going through a difficult period right now. Mainly I’m in a work situation where I’m berated on a daily basis and I struggle to hang on because it is a new career path. There is so much truth and comfort in what you speak of and what Paul says. I must confess that I too often spend so much time wallowing in my feelings that I forget about how God is with me the whole time I just have to ask Him for a little help no matter how hard it is to see the path in front of me.
    There is so much truth in Jeremiah 29:11. I’m always trying to remind myself that God’s plans for me are always for good. I’m also reminded that I’m not alone in my thinking as your blog has been such a testament to me and helps me to keep looking onward and upward. Many blessings to you and God bless you and all the love and effort that you have made to help other people like myself!
    Jill recently posted…Joy Despite…My Profile

    • Melanie Caldicott says:

      Jill, I’m so sorry you are going through such a hard time. It’s hurtful when we face unfair criticism and people blocking the path that we are trying to move forward in. I have been through circumstances like this in my journey and it can be damaging to your confidence. Something that was very helpful to me was to dwell on the truths God tells me in the Bible about who I am and how much God loves me. It helped me to shrug off the negative stuff and remember who I was created to be.

      I pray that your circumstances change and that you stay strong in your faith as you face this difficult time. I pray that you are blessed with people who love you for who you are and can believe that you are a valuable person despite the bad things that you hear.

      Thanks so much for sharing and for your encouraging words about Essential Thing Devotions. Blessings.

      • Thank you so much Melanie for your encouraging words and for your prayers. It is all too easy to forget to remember how much we are loved by Him. Reminding myself of that and reading my bible helps. I am also going to pray for my manager for whatever she herself is dealing with in her own life. Regardless of whether or not she is verbally abusive perhaps if I try to push my mind into thinking about her in not such a negative light, I can be relieved of some stress. Also i try to remind myself that my job is to help patients (I am a vascular ultrasound technologist) I also know that I am not alone, and that is the biggest help, indeed. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Hebrews 4:16. No matter our troubles He is always there. Thanks again Melanie.

        God bless

  3. oh yes, what a key… I love that we can be transparent and that our victory is real! One choice at a time, one heart turning at a time, one touch from God at a time, one giggle at a time.
    Barbara Isaac recently posted…SloppinessMy Profile

    • Melanie Caldicott says:

      Barbara, as you know transparency is the name of the game for me here at Essential Thing Devotions. I love your words here. Thanks so much for sharing. Blessings.

  4. Beautifully put! You said it al perfectly :)
    Ren recently posted…Many are the plans..My Profile

  5. HI Melanie! I am coming over from Sharing His Beauty.

    What a strong person you are to share this painful part of your journey. Of course your depression does not make you less of a disciple! I hope no one ever told you that? Depression is real, and can be helped, just like you were helped.

    I pray your joy continues, and radiates to all you know.

    Happy Monday!
    Ceil

    • Melanie Caldicott says:

      Ceil, it’s so good that you dropped by. I was fortunate enough to have the prayers and support of some true friends and wonderful relatives. However, I am aware that there is a stigma surrounding depression and we can easily feel like it is a failure. Thanks for your supportive words. Blessings.

  6. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
    Psalm 34:18
    I think that pretty much validates the fact that christians can get depressed and it doesn’t mean they don’t have enough faith. We’re told in scripture that we will suffer. God doesn’t condemn us for suffering, He comes and abides with us, and brings light into the darkness. I pray that more of us will learn to offer that kind of response when we know a sister is suffering.
    Beth Cranford recently posted…Calming Your Fears about HomeschoolingMy Profile

    • Melanie Caldicott says:

      Beth, thanks so much for sharing this verse! It has been so much comfort to me to know that God is with me in my dark times and understands my suffering. I love your wisdom here. Blessings.

  7. Melanie,
    What a beautiful devotional. I love the version of the Bible, The Message and that scripture about all those things that Paul went through seemed so vivid as described in it. God understands our emotions whether we be joyous or saddened by some circumstance…He understands them all because He made them when He made us human! It is so comforting to know that we don’t have to try to fake God out…He knows us inside and out. As long as we have breath in our body, we have hope…as long as we have hope, we can have and attain joy!

    Blessings!

    Debby

    • Melanie Caldicott says:

      Debby, you have put this beautifully. Yes, sometimes I think we can be ashamed of some of the things that make us human instead of trusting in God and celebrating the way He made us. Thanks for your great comments. Blessings.

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