I often wish I could pull up a seat with you. Metaphorically speaking, do you mind pulling up a seat with me and having some virtual coffee as I share? I often think and write about weakness and transparency. These are two topics that have always been important to me personally. I am painfully transparent (as my friends can attest) and incredibly weak. Weakness is one of those things most of us hate to admit, which is why I wish I could sit right there beside you. This winter, I was reminded of a time in life when I experienced great weakness and imagined sharing about it might encourage you during these long winter days.
When I moved to the Nashville area, I experienced a weariness I’d never quite felt before. My weariness could easily have been attributed to a quick move in a short period of time. The trouble was, it didn’t lift. My weariness stayed around for a year. I had never experienced a season of despondency like that, but as I think back, despondency was exactly what I was battling. I had moments where I lacked joy, even seemed hopeless, and lacked motivation. I believe God brings us through various seasons for a purpose and doesn’t waste trials, even ones where circumstances (like mine) were seemingly okay. I do believe He is good and faithful with all my heart—He had a good purpose in that season of life for me.
As odd as this next line might sound, I was aware during those darks days that God had never been nearer to me. That is, I sensed His nearness more than ever. I get why the Psalmist cried out with tears, he knew God would answer with His presence (Psalm 16:11, Psalm 42: 3,5). My despondency was not lifting, but God was reminding me through His Word and through sweet books like Not By Sight by Jon Bloom that he is there, even during those hard moments.
God seemed more real to me over those months of despair than I could remember in many joy-filled days. There was actually a part of me that didn’t want that time to end because I was so desperate for Him. As I wrote in my new book, Enjoy, sometimes God lets us come to the end of ourselves in order for us to enjoy more of him.
So, perhaps you, too, are struggling with a season of despondency and like it was for me, this is new to you. Or maybe you’ve been in this season for a long time. I can’t tell you how long it will last. I have no desire to give you a false hope. But maybe knowing that you aren’t alone will help. You aren’t alone, many people struggle with seasons like ours. And you aren’t alone, there is a real, present hope—His name is Jesus and God is with you. And when we come to an end of ourselves, when everything is failing within and around us, we realize that nothing but God can satisfy the longings in our soul. We realize the God is all we have and all we truly need:
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
that I may tell of all your works. –Psalm 73:25-28
Reflecting on this passage of Psalms in their book The Songs of Jesus, Tim and Kathy Keller shared this beautiful prayer: “Lord, I thank you for how suffering drives me like a nail deeper into your love. It is not my earthly joys but my griefs that show me your grace is enough.” During your dark hour, know that God’s grace is enough for you. He is with you, draw near to him. Sing out to the Lord, “Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; ’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.”