When I think back to where my life was before finding God, I was living in darkness and despair. My three years in college were the most miserable and confusing days of my life. I was drinking on a daily basis and my goal in life was getting the attention of men so I could feel worthwhile. It was a never ending chase and it always ended up in defeat. I was convinced there was something wrong with me and that I was unlovable.
I was aimless and failing my classes. I was tired all the time. I was deeply depressed and convinced my life would never get better. I was even more convinced that I didn’t deserve for it to be better. I began having anxiety attacks because I felt so much guilt and shame for how I was living. I didn’t know how to fix myself. I knew there was a God, but I knew nothing about a God that healed.
Psalm 30: 1 I will exalt you, Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. 2 Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. 3 You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit.
I was working as a waitress when two women invited me to their church. There was something so different about them – a light in their eyes and a joy radiating from within. I wanted what they had. I began doing bible studies with these women, was baptized, and became a Christian. My life was infinitely better and God began to heal me.
By the grace of God, I was able to stop drinking – although I do recommend continuing a support group – and just by doing that my decision-making and outlook on life became more positive and self-preserving. God definitely brought me up from the realm of the dead and kept me from digging a deeper pit for myself. Things could’ve gotten so much worse for me. God has continued to heal me over the years I’ve been faithful to Him.
Psalm 103: 2 Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— 3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, 5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Although my life was radically better, filled with peace and godly contentment, I realized that my former way of life had left some deep emotional scars. Because I started drinking when I was 15 my emotional growth was stunted. I was very immature even up until my late twenties. I also had some things that happened in early childhood that left me with deep-seated shame and self-hatred. But as stated in Psalm 103, God continued to heal me and redeem my life from the pit.
Job 36: 15 But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction. 16 “He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction, to the comfort of your table laden with choice food.
Living in a spacious place free from restriction is what I long for during this pandemic. It’s what we all long for right now. During this time, some of us are suffering and need to be healed. My personal afflictions during this time are fear of the future, selfishness, and a downcast heart (Psalm 42).
The facility where I live is completely locked down so no visitors can come in and we can’t go out. As of recently, they told the residents we are not allowed to leave our rooms. But I know God is speaking to me during this time of suffering. He is speaking to all of us and eager to rescue us from our distress. This is a time we should be desperate to pray and to thank God for whatever he is teaching us. When we are stretched, we are growing.
At times, I can’t sleep at night and negative thoughts begin to cycle through my brain. All the fearful thoughts come from things I just can’t control: the end of the pandemic and what life will be like afterwards, the lockdown of this facility, the state of the world, people killing people because they look different, and so much more.
What I can control in my life is my personal relationship with God. I praise God for the Scriptures that always tell me the truth and on which I can rely fully. Everything else in this world is subject to change, but God never changes. When it feels like our world is falling apart, it is in God we have to trust.
Psalm 18: 2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Psalm 46: 1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
John 14: 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled) and do not be afraid.
From the time I first encountered God many years ago, until this very minute on this very day, I’ve needed to be restored physically, mentally, and spiritually. I’ve needed to be reminded of His love, His strength, and His protection. None of us can maneuver through life in these ever-changing times alone. We will all experience suffering and afflictions at time, but we have a God that heals.
Jeremiah 17:14 Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.