“My heart trembles to write all of this, because all I want you to hear is that Jesus is the One who saves. Nothing and no one else will.”
When I was 11 years old, I was diagnosed with a rare disease in my right hip called Perthes. It caused the blood supply to my hip joint to get cut off, and so the bone in my hip joint began to deteriorate. To make a long story short, I wore a brace on my legs for a year and a half, then had 7 reconstructive surgeries on my hip, the final one being a total hip replacement. The reason for the surgeries was that I was in immense pain every day from when I was 11 years old until around the time I turned 30. The final surgery was when I was 27, and I figured, “this has gotta fix it, they’re taking out my hip joint and putting a fake one in!” The problem was, I had already had so many surgeries that I now had nerve and muscle damage in my leg that was contributing to the cause of the pain. So as the recovery period for the last surgery came to an end, I found myself in a place I wasn’t expecting to be. I was still in pain every day.
Up until this point, I had always believed that God would use one of the surgeries to heal me. When I told my surgeon that I was still in pain, he simply said there was nothing more that could be done, and that it would just have to be pain management from here on out. I didn’t really know what to do with myself.
What I’d like to say that I did was turn to God again and worship Him despite the pain. I’d like to say that I used it as an opportunity to praise God for His faithfulness in the midst of a storm. I’d like to say that I rested in the strength of God in the midst of my utter weakness. I’d like to say I did those things.
At the time, I worked in an AT&T retail store, and I remember one day just losing it. I teared up on the sales floor after my leg spasmed in pain, and that was it. I left work early and called my doctor to schedule an appointment. I told him that I was depressed because nothing was fixing my hip, and that I needed some medication to handle the depression. He put me on a prescription for anti-depressants, and that’s when I fell asleep.
I honestly don’t remember a whole lot from that year of my life. What I do remember is that I just kindof coasted through life. I never really got sad about the pain I was experiencing, but I never really got happy about anything either. It was like all my emotions – the good and the bad – were being squashed into this middle area of non-feeling. I don’t have many memories of my kids, or my family in general.
About a year after I had gotten on this medication, my family and I were going on a trip to Kentucky to see my parents and my oldest brother and his family. We were about half-way there, and I suddenly broke out in a cold sweat. I had forgotten my pills. The doctor had warned me not to stop taking them abruptly because my body would grow dependent on them after a while. If I was going to stop taking them, it needed to be gradually.
Well, that wasn’t going to happen.
It was in that moment that God used my wife to remind me of His sovereignty. She told me that, maybe this was God’s way of telling me it was time to be done with the pills and to look to Him instead. Maybe it was time to stop sleeping through life and wake up. I was terrified, but I knew she was right. That night, as we lay on our mattress in the basement of my parents’ house, we prayed. We prayed for strength. We prayed for mercy. And we prayed for healing.
One moment I remember very vividly from that trip is sitting on a couch in my parents’ living room, hugging my knees and trying as best I could to deal with the pains of withdrawal I was experiencing. I wouldn’t recommend it. Not fun. We got back home from the trip, and eventually the withdrawal symptoms began to subside. And I went back to going through life, with one big change. I began to look for peace in Christ instead of my circumstances.
I had woken up. I had begun to feel again, and it was overwhelming.
Then one day, I remember driving down the road, not thinking about anything in particular, and all of the sudden something began to well up within me. I didn’t understand what was happening at first. It was like I was breathing for the first time, seeing for the first time….feeling for the first time.
I had woken up. I had begun to feel again, and it was overwhelming. It was during that time, after being taken off anti-depressants, that God really began to bring healing into my life. I finally came to a point where I realized that I didn’t need to be pain free. I didn’t need to walk without a limp. I didn’t need to feel strong.
As long as I had Jesus, I had everything I needed.
He would give me the strength to endure the especially painful days. He would give me the peace to rest in the sovereign grace of the Father. In Jesus I found hope for the future.
“By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the One who called us to Himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence.”
– 2 Peter 1:3 (NLT)
When it comes down to it, the only thing that matters in the end is Jesus and where we stand with him. Do we stand on our own in our own strength and try to do things our way? When we do, we are standing against Him. It’s when we embrace our weakness and thereby embrace the strength that only God can give that we truly stand with Jesus. This is a hard thing, trust me I know. But in this world we live in, we have to come face to face with the lies the world tells us, and confront them with the Truth.
The world tells us to believe in yourself. Well, my self is pretty screwed up. My self fails all the time. You know who never fails us? Jesus. The world tells us to follow your heart. My heart betrays me around every corner. You know who will never betray us? Jesus. The world tells us, “just take these pills and you’ll be fine.” I slept for a year. Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Here’s how I want to end this. I genuinely understand that anti-depressants are a touchy subject. But you know what? That’s why I want to talk about it. The touchy subjects are the ones we should especially not leave for the world to figure out. For me, anti-depressants were like sticking a band aid on a bullet wound. It covered up the symptom, but it didn’t bring healing to the true problem. God is the great physician. He is greater than any medication I can take because He brings healing to my soul.
As long as I had Jesus, I had everything I needed.
If you are struggling with depression, I would encourage you to begin your search for healing with Christ. Lay your burdens before Him. Be honest. Don’t try and sugar coat how you feel. The truth is, Jesus knows you better than you know yourself. Something amazing happens when you name your struggles and your sins before Jesus. You see, Jesus has been given the name that is above every name (Philippians 2:9). So name your struggle to Jesus. Jesus is greater than that struggle. Name your depression to Jesus. Joy unspeakable is found in knowing Jesus. Name your sin before Jesus. He has overcome that sin you’ve named.
My heart trembles to write all of this, because all I want you to hear is that Jesus is the One who saves. Nothing and no one else will. This is not an attempt to stir up controversy. This is a plea from my heart – take your sickness and weakness and struggles to Christ! He will lift you out of your slumber and raise you to a life you never thought you could have. It’s what He’s done with me. It’s what He’s done for all who call upon His name.