“Sons of Gondor! Of Rohan! My brothers! I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me! A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the age of Men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand! Men of the West!”
Aragorn, “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”
Anyone who has read even a handful of my blogs knows I’m honest to a fault regarding my struggles with depression and chronic pain. In case this is your first time, however, in addition to bidding you “welcome,” please allow me to summarize some of my struggles:
- I began struggling with depression in my early teens
- By the time I was 16 years old, I was already dealing with back pain
- Due to a dependent personality disorder, I attempted suicide while in the Army in my early 20s
- I’ve had two back surgeries
- I live in chronic pain due to scoliosis, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis and arthritis in my back, hips and legs
This isn’t a “woe is me” article, though; I’m simply laying the groundwork for what is to come. Many people understand pain, sorrow, fear, anger and depression, but are too busy trying to make themselves appear as shining beacons of perfection to discuss it. I don’t weep and moan about my suffering, but I do talk about it. I try to be as real as possible, since I know you also struggle.
Life, while breathtaking and exciting, is also challenging. In the dark night, when I’m the only one left awake, despair tries to take hold of my spirit. Last night it hit me hard, just out of the blue.
Please understand: I had one week off from work to celebrate Christmas. My son got married on January 1, and I was blessed to officiate the ceremony. I’d never done that before, so it was one of the greatest honors of my life. The wedding was beautiful and remarkable, and my wife keeps smiling about it, saying, “My heart is just so FULL.”
So, you see, I had an AMAZING couple of weeks, which is why the feeling of hopelessness was so odd last night.
“This pain,” I thought, “it’s nearly unbearable. How long must I suffer? It never ends! I’m so sick of this I could scream!”
But unlike the old days, when I would entertain my dark thoughts, sinking deeper and deeper into depression, I grabbed my phone, opened my Bible Gateway app and started to read:
Jesus said, “Come to me all of you who are tired from the heavy burden you have been forced to carry. I will give you rest. Accept my teaching. Learn from me. I am gentle and humble in spirit. And you will be able to get some rest. Yes, the teaching that I ask you to accept is easy. The load I give you to carry is light.” (Matthew 11: 28-30)
“But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 24:13)
Instead of surrendering to the dark, I took these verses to heart and began to pray:
Slowly feeling the darkness subside, I went to sleep.
Before falling asleep, my wife woke up for a minute and said, “I thought you were gonna write a blog?”
“I was,” I smiled, “but I’m just going to go to bed.”
“Better to go to sleep and wake up early,” I figured, “than lie here and allow my darkness to swallow me up.”
Ya see, I’m fighting my demons.
In the name of Jesus Christ, darkness has no power over me!
This pain and depression is only temporary; for those of us who serve Jesus, the living God, we will be relieved of all burdens one glorious day.
It’s coming, so don’t give up hope! Don’t quit! The bleakness of Earth is only temporary!
Jesus said, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Regarding your enemies, be they physical or spiritual, human or demon, the Lord speaks to you: “So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
You’re not a victim, you’re a champion, so start acting like one!
I don’t know your personal struggles, but Jesus does. He understands pain, grief and sadness. He not only RELATES to the human experience, but LIVED it, so cry out to Him. He will never abandon you!
Why drown in your sorrows when you can dance in the rain?
Fighting is a conscious decision; it doesn’t come naturally to most of us.
You must CHOOSE to fight.
You must CHOOSE to go to war with the darkness, in the mighty name of Jesus, utilizing every weapon in your arsenal: faith, love, laughter, happy experiences, your favorite music and movies, etc.
You can lie down and die or stand up and fight. We only have one life, so I’m urging you to keep going. I’m begging you: fight the darkness.
In looking to our Heavenly Father, and banding together, we can conquer our demons!
I love you all, and my family and I are prayin’ for ya.