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When Depression Drove Me Away From God

Written By Ruth, Singapore

I have been struggling with depression all my life, but recently, I hit a breaking point. I was furious at the Lord, questioning why He had not taken this illness away.

In an attempt to spite God for leaving me with the burden of depression, I chose to intentionally sin against Him. I went on dates with men I met online and spent a lot of time with them instead of my church mates, friends, and family. I also began to indulge in alcohol, which seemed like a good form of distraction from thinking about God or my actions. I would often drink till my heart’s content, letting myself be filled with feelings of indifference and “bliss”.

I was seeking temporary relief and anything that could numb the stinging feeling of misery in my heart. But despite my attempts, every single morning when I woke up, I would find that the pain did not go away and my heart was still as empty.

Throughout this season, I still attended church, albeit with a cold heart. I also continued meeting some Christian friends. Looking back now, I know that all these were actually part of His plans to reveal Himself to me in small and clear ways.

 

God’s persistent pursuit of me

What left a huge impact on me during this period was how my Christian friends responded to my actions. Instead of putting on a “holier than thou” front and demanding that I stop sinning, they stood by me and showed me God’s love and grace. They gave me time to think about things, and space to wrestle with God.

One friend in particular prayed for me daily. Every single day, she texted me to ask about my progress and how I was feeling. She also took time to understand me and was available whenever I needed her. Above all, she prayed and trusted in the Lord. Till today, she is stil­l praying for me.

Even in my rebellion, I knew that the love, faithfulness, and immense patience I experienced through my friends was from God. I could sense that He was pursuing me, even when I tried to distance myself from Him and others around me.

Eventually, I could not deny His presence or ignore His pursuit of me anymore. I had learned that the life I was running to was unfulfilling. It would never bring me the freedom I longed for. Nothing, apart from Him, could bring me freedom or joy. I decided that even if I still struggled with depression and other sins, even if I’d probably fail Him time and time again, God will never forsake me, and He is worthy of my trust.

 

The problem with coming back to Christ

However, even after I made up my mind to turn back to Him, it still took months before I gained the courage to call upon the name of Jesus again.

The turning point came when I heard a sermon on the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). The message got me thinking: Was I actually afraid to turn back to God because I thought that He may not receive me with open arms anymore? I reasoned that God knows my sin against Him on an even deeper level than my friends, family, or anyone I could hide things from. How could He really want me?

When I considered the depth and weight of my sin, it was so excruciating that I found it difficult to even lift my head in front of our Holy God. But this story in Luke reminded me of God’s willingness to receive me. I’m now slowly starting to grasp the truth that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is enough to cover my sin, and I stopped doubting God’s forgiveness and the sacrifice Jesus made for me on the Cross.

 

What my journey means for me now

Today, I know that nothing—even depression—can take me away from God’s love and forgiveness (Romans 8:38-39). Turning back to God gave me a sense of peace and hope that both alcohol and men could not provide.

Although sometimes I feel like I am still at the bottom of a dark well, I hold fast to the promises of God. Just as God promised Joshua, “Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9)”, I know that the Lord is with me even in this deep well.

He brings light into my darkness, and this light allows me to see who God truly is—love. I am also assured that because of Christ, I am no longer a slave to sin, but a slave to righteousness (Romans 6:17-18). Although I may still succumb to the weakness of my flesh, I am no longer turning my back on God, but asking Him for an obedient heart to do what pleases Him.

If you’ve been running from God or struggling like I was (and still am sometimes), I pray that you can find strength to turn to the Maker and Comforter of your soul! If you feel lost or distant from God, remember this: God loves you. God chose you. God died and bled for you so that you could be forgiven and His grace for you is sufficient! Hear this verse as a personal call to you:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9, ESV).

If you have a friend who has left the body of Christ, I want to assure you that what your friend needs is all of the love, grace, support, and time he or she can get. Your friend may need months, or even years, before they come back to the faith. Keep showing them God’s love in the meantime, and be faithful in prayer, remembering that everything will work out—not in our timing, not in your friend’s, but in God’s perfect timing.

Editor’s Picks: Best of “Why Do I Worship?”

We focused the last quarter on loving God with all of our soul. We asked our contributors. . .why do you worship?

Editor’s Picks: Best of “Why Do I Feel?”

As we started the new year, we embraced Luke 10:27 as our anchoring verse, and spent the first three months digging into what it looks like to love God with all of our hearts. We were blown away by the generous contributions from our global volunteer contributors, and wanted to share with you a few of our best articles—ones that have already encouraged thousands, that we hope can encourage you too!

Depressed—At the Height of My Success

Written By Ong Sook Yee, Malaysia

I’ve always been on the quest for love. I was born in a non-Christian family and didn’t know about God, so I turned to the media to define love for me.

I grew up believing that love is found in being in a relationship and attaining those #relationshipgoals that dominate my social media feeds. I believed that I would be loved by those around me if I did well in school and carved out a successful career for myself.

So I began striving in those areas of my life, turning them into my idols. I was like a circus act, constantly going above and beyond for the people around me in hopes that they would take delight in me.

I moved from one toxic relationship to another. I thought it was only normal to experience the hurt and abuse that I did in those relationships. No matter how much I did to prove myself worthy of my partner’s love, all that came back to me was more pain and confusion.

There came a time when everything in my life finally came together. At the age of 23, I was headhunted into a company that paid me extremely well. I was driving a new car. I was in a stable relationship, and my family and friends loved me. After the endless striving and hurt, I was finally living the perfect life that I had always envisioned.

But that was when everything began to fall apart. Rather than feeling satisfied with all that I had achieved, I felt extremely depressed and empty within. The peak wasn’t the peak after all. I began asking myself, “Why am I here? Do I deserve to be loved?”

I spent many days crying in the car park of my workplace. I did not attempt to reach out for help. Instead, I tried hard to mask my condition from those around me because I was afraid that they would not understand me. Wasn’t I living the dream life everyone wanted? I grew increasingly frustrated with myself because I couldn’t reconcile my achievements with how I was feeling on the inside. And my condition worsened because I was in denial about what I was going through.

One morning, I decided to end my life as I lay in bed. At this very moment, I felt God speak these words to me:

Without God, life has no purpose.

At that time, a friend had brought me to church, so I had already started attending church and was serving there occasionally. I had even said the Sinner’s Prayer. But nothing in my life changed because I had not truly known God for myself.

But on that day, God called me out of my brokenness and confusion with those six words. He gave me the sense of hope and love that I have been seeking for my whole life. So I gave my life to Christ, and He healed me from my depression.

Soon after, God led me to approach a friend who became my spiritual mentor. She emphasized the importance of being rooted in the Bible, so we began to read the Bible and work through my questions and doubts together.

As I began to know more about God and surrendered my life to Him, He has been continually breaking my old ways and reshaping me to live the new life He has called me to. He revealed my past hurts in order to completely heal me of my brokenness. He also gave me strength and wisdom to stand by my faith when my family opposed my decision to become a Christian. With God’s help, I am learning day by day what it means to walk with Him and trust Him with my whole life.

After some time, I began toying with the idea of selling Christian enamel pins—calling it Prince of Pins. I wanted to use these small but powerful enamel pins to share with people about the loving God who had healed me of my depression. I envisioned these pins being used to share the gospel.

At that time, I was still working in my previous company, but my hunger and conviction to make this venture a reality grew stronger by the day. But I knew I needed the support of my family—especially my father—to make it happen.

My father is a businessman himself and I have always wanted to follow in his footsteps as his daughter. Since I was a little girl, I’ve dreamed of starting a business to help others but I didn’t know how to go about it. Every time I had an idea for a business, I would present it to my father but he always rejected them.

However, when it came to Prince of Pins, he was very supportive of the idea despite being a non-believer. He even offered to support the business financially. This then became my biggest confirmation to go ahead with it. I quit my job and pursued the venture full-time.

When I first started Prince of Pins, I would look through Pinterest to find verses that spoke to people or from my own Bible study, and work on sketches that our designer would turn into the pins. However, our second series of pins, the Triumphant series, was one that was born out my lowest moment when I almost gave up on the business.

I was filled with enthusiasm and childlike faith when we first started out, but I was soon tired of the financial instability and challenges that came up with helming a start-up venture, so I took up a full-time job. However, it became clear that I couldn’t manage both, and had to choose either one. In the end, I decided to go back into doing Prince of Pins full-time, and God has been faithful in sustaining us. The Triumphant series for me was a reminder to declare God’s victory and promises over our lives even when we don’t see it.

 

A selection of pins from Prince of Pins.

Through Prince of Pins, our team has had the opportunity to minister to people and reach places that we could have never imagined. We pray through every decision from the choice of designers to manufacturers, and it has been an encouraging journey as we have witnessed how our pins have encouraged and comforted our recipients.

For example, we like to engage our followers on Instagram. Once, we put up a poll on InstaStory asking our followers whether they were doing ok, and then we reached out personally to those who answered “no”. Through that exercise, we got to pray with a guy who was struggling with pornography and had moved away from God, and another who was battling with suicide and feeling lost. Even non-believers would open up about their struggles through that platform, and it was an opportunity for us to show them the love of Christ.

Another story that is close to my heart is a testimony that was shared by someone who purchased our pins to bless some young girls she was journeying with. She gave out the pins randomly, but one of the girls came back to her and said that the message on the pin—“I am a child of God”—was the word that she needed for that season in her life. God had been revealing to her that she had a fear of abandonment due to her past, and the pin was a reminder to her of the work that God wanted to do in her life.

Stories like these help me see God’s purpose for Prince of Pinsour mission is not just to create pins, but more importantly, to pin God’s love on the hearts of people. The impact of what we’ve been able to do through this little project has made the entire journey so worth it, and is a humbling reminder of what God can do when we trust Him.

Even though there have been many occasions where I had wanted to give up when our circumstances were tough and uncertain, these struggles have deepened my walk with God. Each time we were faced with challenges, God has been faithful to show us His love, and we’ve learned that these are opportunities for Him to prune away our unfruitful thoughts or behavior, so that we may grow in christlikeness and dependence on Him.

Just like Prince of Pins, I am also a work in progress. The road ahead will be tough but I know that God is my refuge, strength and ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1). I believe that His Word will continue to be my anchor, giving me the comfort and strength I need to face my struggles.

If you’re struggling to find your purpose and passion in life, I want to encourage you to keep being faithful in the small things (1 Corinthians 10:31). Keep seeking God and He will reveal His plans for you in His perfect timing.

 

Editor’s Note: If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, we encourage you to reach out to someone or look up your local suicide helpline to seek professional help.