Have you ever been in a season where the knowledge of His presence can’t seem to take the eighteen inch journey from your head to your heart? Have you ever come to a point where the comfort of the cliche quote won’t cut it for where you are walking? Have you ever struggled with practical steps for what to do during dark seasons?
Three years ago I was approached by a good friend who asked me if I could talk to a young man he had begun mentoring. I agreed without asking for any other details. I was over one thousand miles away from this guy, but I had a desire to encourage and bless him. Little did I know that I was in over my head.
As soon as we began texting and messaging on Facebook, he opened up about his life. He had come from a wealthy Christian family, but had struggled with chronic depression. He had suicidal thoughts every day, and terrible dreams. He had a medical condition that no doctor could diagnose. He had incredible pain all through his body and it would leave him with an intense desire to simply end it all so he didn’t have to endure it any more.
I was over my head and out of my paygrade. I didn’t know what to do. He loved Jesus, but couldn’t understand why this was happening and why God would allow it. In that moment, I had so many different ideas come flooding into my mind. The first was how I could rationalize the problem of pain like C.S.Lewis and tell him the philosophical reasons for why pain existed. I thought about confronting him about his lack of faith. I even thought about asking him about hidden sin in his life or “generational curses” in his family line. Maybe telling him about demons and the enemy would help him. But as I sat there with zero answers and even less capability to relate, I just felt the Holy Spirit move me to simply sit, listen and encourage.
So I sat and I listened. I listened to him talk about his pain, his anxiety, his depression. I simply sat and listened. The cliché quotes from your favorite pastor and missionary don’t cut it for someone in deep pain. They don’t want a sound bite or a catchy quote to cover over their pain. Every night I would talk to him and pray with him. I simply prayed for breakthrough, peace, and a raw encounter with Jesus. All I had for him was knowledge of his identity in Jesus and that there was a loving Father that was for Him and not against Him. Every day for three weeks straight I would give him no answers but simply pray for breakthrough.
After three weeks our schedules and busyness took over, and our conversations and praying soon tailed off. I would still pray for him but the intensity of our contact wasn’t the same. Soon over a year passed and I had all but forgotten about those three intense weeks.
Almost two years later out of nowhere he reached out to me. He then began to tell me a story I couldn’t even believe was true. He shared with me that not long after those three weeks, he had decided to join a ministry to reach youth through adventure sports. He knew he was in pain, but wouldn’t allow his pain to define him but rather he would reach out to the youth and share his story. Soon after stepping out in faith, all the excruciating pain left his body. Soon the depression and crippling anxiety fell away as well. He suddenly knew and was able to confidently say, “The joy of the Lord is MY strength.” His travels and ministry even took him into NORTH KOREA! He had ministered in many nations all over the earth. He not only was healed and delivered, but was now a trumpet of victory letting the enemy know that THEY HAD LOST!
I wanted to share this story to release hope in your heart. That sowing in the dark never looks pretty. You never sow with all the answers. You never sow knowing when the breakthrough will come or exactly what you will receive when it comes. You sow in Faith. You sow in quiet trust. I want to encourage you to not give up hope. To persevere in dark seasons, knowing that Jesus is a rewarder of those who seek Him. He sees you, He knows you, He is with you. Sow, weep, cry out, and keep sowing. He will exalt you at the proper time, but remember He WILL exalt you.
Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.