Finding Hope, Peace, and Joy
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13
When suffering from depression or anxiety, most of us have prayed, asking God to take it away. Then, when God doesn’t take it away and we’re still suffering, we feel hurt and lost. Why won’t you help God? Don’t you care? Do you want me to live like this? Are you even there?
In today’s passage, Paul referred to God as the God of hope. He said that in believing, we’re supposed to be filled with joy, peace, and hope. If this is true, why do so many Christians have the opposite experience? If he is the God of hope, why do so many suffer from hopelessness, depression, and anxiety? Doesn’t God care? Is there something we’re doing wrong? Is this our fault?
I do believe that God wants us to know hope, peace, and joy, just like I believe God wants us to live free from slavery to drugs and alcohol. In his wisdom however, God allows us all to struggle with different things. I’m not suggesting that addiction is the same as anxiety, but we’ve all got our own issues that we didn’t choose. We may not be responsible for the struggle we have. We are, however, responsible for our response to the struggle. The diabetic may not be responsible for his illness, but he must take control of his disease if he doesn’t want to be destroyed by it.
So, this is how I pray every day for those whom I know to be suffering from anxiety and depression. Every day I ask that _____ would drag his mood before you God. I pray that he would learn to give it to you and daily ask what you would have him do with it. I pray that he would obey and that in his obedience, he would daily find hope, peace, and joy, even in his struggle.
Like the diabetic, many of us who suffer from depression or anxiety are tempted to simply ask God to take it away, and then sit back and do nothing. Like the diabetic though, many of us find that God doesn’t take the problem away. Often, he allows the struggle to remain so that we learn dependence and obedience. So, what might it be that we must do? For some of us, this means addressing and eliminating the things that damage our mood. For others, it means seeking counseling. It may even mean getting medical help. Whatever it is, God asks that we obey him, following, and doing. It is often only in our obedience that we find daily hope, peace, and joy. We all struggle with something, but we don’t have to live enslaved to that thing.