Drought. I have walked through a drought several times. The land is parched, the crops are thirsty, and cattle are thin. Farmers search through years of almanacs and flowers droop as they hope for a drink. When I was pregnant with my fourth child, our state was experiencing a severe drought. Soy beans stood low and corn was brown in July. It was so very hot and my aching feet so very swollen.
The county fair was in full swing and my very active older children dove in headfirst into their 4-H projects. Blue ribbons, pink ribbons, purple ribbons, and excitement continued. Did I mention my achy feet and that I was seven months pregnant? It was 99 degrees in the shade and so very dry. The things a mother will do for children are always not very smart, but love propels us forward.
We survived the heat, the drought, the 4-H hoopla, and a season of nesting while welcoming our only son. Born a month early, he was welcomed by cooler weather and a rain storm. Thirst was quenched
When I just turned 30 years old, I had felt a bit lost and questioning. I was struggling with moderate depression, two young children, a pregnancy and a deployed husband. I lived 5,000 miles away from my mom and the feeling of loss was my anthem.
My pastor was speaking about times that we go through that are a desert experience. We were running forward, running in service, family, work, and life, surviving, enjoying friendships, but something was lacking. Something was missing. Something was off. I was sad and questioning why I kept putting myself in the same position of being alone and just surviving.
I was wandering. I was in my own desert and I didn’t know how to get out of it, because I was in denial.
Since the desert seemed to be my own making, I took a hold of the reigns and mastered that desert. Since I allowed the devil to bring me down, I might as well navigate until I prayed him away. I knew the valleys and the dunes. I knew where I could dive down into the quick sand, and where the firmer rocks were that I could stand and rest for a while. I became one with the desert and that dark, sandy place became a part of me.
I was drowning in the my drought. The storms that brewed inside of me left me gasping for air. Where was God? Why was I stuck? Why did I even try to hope? Why didn’t my Father hear my cry?
I wanted to feel like David. Even though he called out in distress, he knew the Lord would answer.
Psalm 18:6 says “In my distress I called out to the LORD; I cried out to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.”
The Lord heard David and he was sure of God. I wanted to be sure of God, but I cried out daily, and my feet simply dragged through more sand.
It took me years to fight my way out of the desert. No amount of talk therapy or medication lifted me out of the sandy pit I had been living in. I put on a happy face, laughed at jokes, participated, but inside the storm still raged. It raged until a dear friend brought the rain and put me on the path that led to relief.
Back to the summer of drought and relief as we welcomed baby number four. I entered into a season of anger. Anger is depression’s evil twin. It’s all the hurt and sadness on fire, an inferno waiting to burst out. I was so tired by month two that I found myself not in a desert any longer but in a dark pit that was suffocating me.
I had a dear sister in Christ start-up a Bible study for some ladies in our neighborhood. Our topic: Joy. Ha, I laughed, but I needed adult conversation and I needed these sisters in my life.
I kept quiet through most of the study and devotions. I enjoyed these ladies’ beautiful stories and life lessons, but I was afraid to admit that I was nowhere near the same path they traveled and I was embarrassed to be in the presence of what appeared to be such excellence. Then it happened, I opened my mouth.
I let it all out. I was tired. I was angry. I was sad. I didn’t enjoy my family. I didn’t enjoy worship. I didn’t enjoy life. I was drowning. I compared myself to non-believing women who were in my season of mothering and had such joy. Why did they have this joy that I have been begging for when they don’t even worship the same God that I do? Why were their lives easy when I was the one who had a personal savior? Why did I feel forsaken?
Psalm 142:4 became my new anthem. “When I look beside me, I see that there is no one to help me, no one is to protect me. No one cares for me.”
That night I found myself on my throne in the baby’s room at three in the morning. As I rocked in the chair and nursed a baby, I cried and shook my fist at the Lord. I cried out, threatening Him. I told Him that I gave up. I told Him that I didn’t care anymore. I told Him I was done, to take it all away, and to just leave. I told Him that I wasn’t loved, and that He had bigger better things to take care of. I was done and I shook my fist some more. At that moment I lowered my fist from the air, a fog-like feeling came over me and I floated through the rest of the time in that chair until the dawn. It was a new day and something afresh was on the horizon.
Things changed. The baby still cried, the husband still needed me to attend to him and the other children, the house needed cleaning, and activities still needed us there, but my exhaustion no longer controlled me. My anger subsided and my sadness lessened. God heard me. He really heard me and I moved forward in something new. I moved forward in Joy.
[…] fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous hand. Isaiah 41:10
Walking through a drought and falling into a pit changed me. I was desperate and doubtful. My anxious heart didn’t want to let go of its grip on my life, but God was waiting. His timing was perfect. He wanted me to admit I was suffering that I just couldn’t do it anymore. He saved His daughter.
“Wait for the LORD, be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” Psalm 27:14
When you are in a desert time, you question to no avail what will bring the rain. What will quench your thirst? I didn’t realize that it was God’s Word as the answer to my season, God’s life giving Word.
We need to learn something very important here. I still had depression and sleepless nights. I still dealt with motherhood, being an active spouse, being a caring daughter, and I had to prioritize church all the while I wanted to cover my head with a pillow and sleep this time in my life away. I still faced the same things, but the Holy Spirit showed me that I could still go through all of this and have joy at the same time. I could still have joy in my Lord, and in all of His blessings, even if the blessings kept me up at night.
James speaks to this. In 1:2-4, he says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
God is most glorified when we are most satisfied with Him. I wasn’t in any satisfying place for a long time, and I certainly did not give God the glory for any amount of happy moments I had.
Beloved friends, no matter your trials, and the deserts lurking on your path, do not give up hope.
The Lord is close to you, but sometimes it is just not time for you to be pulled out of the drought. We are most satisfied when we have faced and conquered our trials and allowing the Lord to use His timing to do so. In this we will bring Him all the more glory.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial that has come upon you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you share in the sufferings of Christ, s that you may be overjoyed at the revelation of His glory. 1 Peter 4: 12-13
We are commanded to joy, even in the pit of despair. Keep on rejoicing. When you’re walking in the dark places, rejoice. When you’re drowning in doubt, rejoice. When you’re struggling in a sea of affliction, rejoice. Rejoice always, and you will bring God all the more glory.