The tag line of my upcoming book is Finding Your Joy in God, Your Man, Your Kids and Your Home.
If you have followed me for more than 3 years you know that long ago I touched on the subject of depression just slightly. The series was not well received because I personally have never suffered from clinical depression…so I deleted the series and decided that I would allow other women who have walked through this valley speak to this tender subject.
And though I have never been clinically depressed, like most, I have had sad – very sad – seasons in life when I’ve lost my joy.
One sad season was when my husband was gone on a business trip over 200 nights in one year. I stood at the window weekly, with little toddlers wrapped around my legs, waving bye bye to daddy with tears streaming down my cheeks. This was a long and lonely season.
Every time I’ve moved from city to city – from my hometown to Chicago to Columbus and back to my hometown, I’ve experienced deep sadness that sometimes turned into anxiety and an outbreak of hives.
I’ve had dark days when tears came easy or I felt like a failure and like quitting everything in life. We have had hard moments in our marriage where I’ve woken up to the reality of why some people throw in the towel when the going gets tough. I get it…marriage is hard.
I’ve cried over my parenting struggles trying to raise my wild child and my whole family can attest to years of me –crying in the New Year– because I just get emotional on New Years Eve lol!…I get way too reflective and sad about all my failures, flaws, fears and frustrations.
Sometimes…I’m too serious for my own good. I call this being a realist. And reality is harsh and cold sometimes – life is not all bubbles, balloons, butterflies and ladybugs.
And so I learned long ago that joy has had to become more than a feeling because God commands that we have it.
“Rejoice evermore.” — I Thessalonians 5:16
I have to fight for it.
I have to battle for it. I have to pursue it or my own emotions of sorrow simply squelch all my joy…till I’m a puddle on the floor in tears. And that is not the woman you see on this blog. By God’s grace, through the ups and downs, I have experience Psalm 40:2:
“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”
Time and time again, I’ve slipped into a pit and found God to be my firm rock at the bottom.
And a book that has heavily influenced my joy through marriage and motherhood (and influenced the writing of my book) is John Piper’s When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy.
Piper writes in the chapter titled When the Darkness Does Not Lift:
It will be of great advantage to the struggling Christian to remember that seasons of darkness are normal in the Christian life. I don’t mean that we should not try to live above them. I mean that if we do not succeed, we are not lost, and we are not alone, as the fragment of our faith cleaves to Christ. Consider the experience of David in Psalm 40:1-3.
I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.
The king of Israel is in “the pit of destruction” and “the miry bog”— descriptions of his spiritual condition. The song of praise is coming, he says, but it is not now on his lips. It is as if David had fallen into a deep, dark well and plunged into life-threatening mud. There was one other time when David wrote about this kind of experience. He combined the images of mud and flood: “Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me” (Ps. 69:1-2).
In this pit of mud and destruction there is a sense of helplessness and desperation. Suddenly air, just air, is worth a million dollars. Helplessness, desperation, apparent hopelessness, the breaking point for the overworked businessman, the outer limits of exasperation for the mother of three constantly crying children, the impossible expec- tations of too many classes in school, the grinding stress of a lingering illness, the imminent attack of a powerful enemy. It is good that we don’t know what the experience was. It makes it easier to see ourselves in the pits with the king. Anything that causes a sense of helplessness and desperation and threatens to ruin life or take it away—that is the king’s pit.
HOW LONG, O LORD, HOW LONG!
Then after the cry you wait. “I waited patiently for the LORD.” This is crucial to know: Saints who cry to the Lord for deliverance from pits of darkness must learn to wait patiently for the Lord. There is no statement about how long David waited. I have known saints who walked through eight years of debilitating depression and came out into glorious light. Only God knows how long we must wait. We saw this in Micah’s experience in Chapter Six. “I sit in darkness . . . until [the Lord] pleads my cause and . . . will bring me out to the light” (see Micah 7:8- 9). We can draw no deadlines for God. He hastens or he delays as he sees fit. And his timing is all-loving toward his children. Oh, that we might learn to be patient in the hour of darkness. I don’t mean that we make peace with darkness. We fight for joy. But we fight as those who are saved by grace and held by Christ.
Friends, if you are in a time of sadness or depression, I recommend this book and if you can’t get through the first 200 pages just flip ahead to the final chapter on depression. This chapter has been a great comfort to me AND the PDF version of this book is FREE on Piper’s website here. Yes – free!
I own these 4 well-worn books by John Piper.
And I have read many more books by John Piper because he offers the PDF version to over 50 books on his website FREE at DesiringGod.org – is that not an amazing gift? What a true minister of God’s word! I hope you would take the time to browse his books and see if any of them can help you with a spiritual matter you are struggling with.
Chime In: Have you struggled with a loss of joy? How did God help you overcome this season of life?
What books have you read or recommend by John Piper?
Walk with the King,
Need more encouragement? Pick up a copy of my book: “Women Living Well: Finding Your Joy in God, Your Man, Your Kids and Your Home.”