Read: Romans 5:1-5
When I was 14 years old, I was diagnosed with depression and chronic fatigue. It has affected me in different ways and at different intensities over the years, but I have known mental illness as a companion for almost half of my life. When 2018 began, I truly had no idea I was about to begin one of the hardest years of my life. Several classes I took pushed me to think through what I believed and stood for. This was overwhelming, and I fell into a deep depression that continued for 10 months.
From January to October, the slump I was in was unrelentless. I knew that my tendency was to stay in my pain and to shut myself out of the community around me, so I fought that by surrounding myself with other Christians. Even though I hate asking for anything, I asked for people to pray for me. It was uncomfortable, but I knew that I desperately needed it.
As the year continued on, my prayer became “Lord, how long?” I was pressing through school, work, and learning how to endure hardship; but I was weary. One of my best friends was praying with me during this time, and she looked at me and said, “Molly, I know that you aren’t well, but you need to flee despair. You have the Lord, and this season won’t last forever.”
At the end of Romans 4, Paul talked about how we are only made new by faith. In Romans 5, Paul continues talking about how our identity is in what Jesus has done, and not through our ability to do good things.
Because of our ability to have a good relationship with God, we now have hope that people who don’t know God lack. This comes through the pain and sorrow we find in life, not just despite it. In verse 3, we read that suffering creates perseverance. In my battles with mental illness, I have had to learn how to keep going even when I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning.
Perseverance also leads to character. Character always seemed like a strange word to me, but in this Bible verse, it means “tried worth.” When we develop good character, it leads to hope, and hope doesn’t disappoint.
Hope in God and in His promises has been a rock for me to hold onto in the midst of extremely hard seasons. We have access to the Holy Spirit. He holds the ability to communicate to the Lord for us, even when we don’t have the words, and gives us wisdom on what to do when we are at a loss.
The world is dark and messy. There is sin and brokenness everywhere, and I know you are affected by it in some way. Maybe it’s mental illness, broken relationships, poverty, or injustice in your life. Although I don’t know the suffering you face, God does, and He has not left you to despair.
What do you need hope for today? The situations in life you may find yourself in might feel hopeless, but you have not been forgotten or left in despair. Because of your faith in Jesus, you have been given truth that sets you free and has the hope of tomorrow.