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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.

Why Heroes Don’t Necessarily Do the Exciting Stuff

My husband is a computer whiz. Naturally, family and friends consult him about their computer problems. One day, he was helping a friend (whom we’ll call Jake for now) with some computer issues when he noticed a few things that caused him to suspect Jake might be struggling with some internet-related temptations.

My husband told me and we talked and prayed about it. We eventually decided that, in obedience to Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 18:15, he should talk to Jake. It was not an easy decision and neither of us looked forward to an uncomfortable conversation with Jake. After further prayer, my husband pulled Jake aside one day and gently asked him about it. They had a good conversation, during which Jake was very open and honest about some of the things he was struggling with. The two of them agreed to meet with a pastor and adopt accountability and practical measures.

Although we did not fight any giants, save any lives, or brave any mythological perils, it is not an overstatement to say that the decision to talk to Jake was heroic. We sought God’s will and made the best decision we could in accord with the wisdom of the Bible.

Heroic actions are not necessarily exciting or impressive. In the Bible, the story of Ruth gets its own book, even though it initially seems rather unremarkable. Ruth is a Moabite widow who followed her mother-in-law Naomi back to the land of Israel. With no man to support the family, Ruth had to gather excess grain from the fields of a wealthy relative of Naomi’s. At one point, Naomi told Ruth to pursue this wealthy relative. She did so, and he married her. The story is hardly as exciting as the story of Esther, Moses, or David. Yet Ruth not only gets her own book in the Bible, she even gets a mention in Jesus’ genealogy (Matthew 1:1-17). This suggests something extraordinary.

I believe that God blessed Ruth with such a legacy because she made bold decisions and pursued His will. Firstly, she insisted on returning with her mother-in-law to Israel even though Naomi had tried to persuade her otherwise. “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God,” she told Naomi in no uncertain terms (Ruth 1:16). She knew the right thing to do and she knew who the true God was. Hence, she willingly gave up the comfort of her own homeland and family to pursue that.

Secondly, Ruth was not timid or superficial in pursuing Boaz. Naomi suggested it, and Ruth acted on it without an argument. This was a careful decision on their parts. They needed the support of a man in the family, and I believe that they had considered Boaz’s character before Ruth made the proposal. Boaz was kind to his workers (Ruth 2:4) and was kind to Ruth (Ruth 2:14-15). His actions after Ruth’s proposal only proved their confidence in him. The decision to marry was perhaps practical, but it was also wise and bold, and God was pleased with their courage.

It is interesting to note that God is not mentioned in the book of Ruth, except in 1:6 and 4:13. Ruth did not have direct divine guidance in any of her decisions. But she knew God, and she boldly made everyday decisions in pursuit of God’s will, and God blessed her for it. That’s what makes her a hero.