Things have been really hard in my life lately. Really hard. When God starts changing someone, it seems like everything hits him at once. At least that is how it happens in my life. Everything in my life gets turned upside down and inside out, beaten to pieces, and the chaff burned to smoke and dust. It is hard, brutally hard, but oh so worth it.
Do you hear that? It is worth it.
Everything is worth drawing closer to God, learning to hear His glorious voice in every moment of every day, seeing your old, evil self being destroyed, that causes you so much trouble and heartache.
It. Is. Worth. It.
Even if God shreds up my life and throws away every goal and desire I have and sends me in the utterly opposite direction, tearing me from everything I hold dear but Him, if through it He brings me to something better, it will be worth it.
But that isn’t what I came here to say, though it came out and it is true, every word of it. I wanted to tell you about something that I learned in one of the blackest of my recent black days.
I was struggling with my depression, for I was very depressed. I was in misery over myself, and I still am. I hated myself, and not just the me in the past (hate isn’t strong enough of a word for him, honestly), I hated the me in the present. I hated the wasteful, despicable, pathetic, lazy, wicked, addicted, helpless, useless, evil, vulgar, arrogant, selfish, empty, hypocritical self.
And I was worried that I shouldn’t be that way. People kept on telling me that we should be cheerful, and fight against depression, and not forget this and that motivating spiritual fact. But this spiritual fact remained: I was a wretch, and I knew it; I failed God regularly, and I knew it; I acted hypocritically and despicably, and I knew it.
So sitting there, angry and frustrated with myself, praying to God, reading my Bible, I went again to the Beattitudes, one of my favorite passages of Scripture. Meditating on it, I noticed something I hadn’t noticed before.
Matthew 5:3-11 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
These are, as I have always learned and taught, steps. Each one follows the one preceding it. Each one is the foundation of the one following it. It is a sequence, a pathway to life. I knew this.
But I didn’t know this:
You can know if you are stepping properly, if your actions lead you along the path.
Simple, yet profound. And very helpful.
How do you know the difference between depression and poorness in spirit? Are you being drawn and and led and driven to mourning?
How do you know if your mourning is repentance, and not selfishness? Are you being drawn and led and driven to meekness?
How do you know your meekness is humility and not slavery? Are you being drawn and led and driven towards a deep and insatiable desire for righteousness?
This was how I discovered that my misery was a godsend, and an answer to prayer. And I was grateful for it. And I pray it never ends.