We had lived cross-culturally for about four and a half years—with only one quick 30-day return trip to the United States during that entire time—when I began to experience a deep depression that was nearly impossible to crawl out from under. The best way that I can describe my experience with depression is that it felt like someone covered me with a heavy, soaking-wet wool blanket.

Heaviness. Darkness. Immobility.

During that year, I leaned into the Lord. I crawled up onto God’s lap and leaned in to His love. I read. I camped out in the Psalms. I conversed with God. I journaled. I pondered. I rested.

There were dark days during that year. There were days filled with tears. Sometimes, I wanted to just hide under my blanket (but it was too hot, even with a fan on). I experienced such great anxiety when faced with leaving my home and neighborhood that I stopped driving unless forced to by circumstances. On most days, during that dark valley of life, I fought to get the basic aspects of life accomplished. Throughout that year, I struggled to stay afloat as I fought to swim wrapped in that wool blanket.

Yet, amidst the darkness, there flickered a light. A light of blessing. Blessing?

Yes, a blessing.

You see, God makes beauty from ashes. He turns tears into gladness. He redeems. He restores.

The blessing {gift} that I received at the end of that dark tunnel of depression was the necklace above.

Well, God did not actually send a necklace to me. I had a necklace made as a reminder.

gift/blessing    gift {blessing}   gift–blessing    gift (blessing)   gift [blessing]

The gift {blessing} was a deep, heart knowledge that I am loved. I am loved even if I am not productive. I am loved even if I am not effective in ministry. I am loved regardless of whether I can accomplish what I think God expects me to do.

I am loved—just because. I am loved because He loved me first. He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

Depression can be a huge demotivator and debilitator—you do not get a whole lot done in the valley of depression. Whatever illusions you had about how your “work and service to the Lord” was worth something—whatever erroneous theology you believed about how what you “did” equated to “how much you are loved”—quickly fades away. You are left with nothing. Nothing to show to others. Nothing to show to God—except yourself. It is only then that you realize that you are loved. Really LOVED.

I learned that God was far more interested in me being with Him, than in what I could do for Him.

This is not everyone’s experience with depression. I realize that. This was my experience—and I am eternally grateful for it. However, I would encourage you to ponder what it really looks like to be loved by God.

For God so loved the world (John 3:16)

not because of any works of righteousness that we have done (Titus 3:5 AMP)

but because of His great love for us … (Ephesians 2:4).

Question to consider: In your experience, what does it really look like to be loved by God?


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