An audio version for you, my friend:
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
Matthew 7:7-10 NIV
How hard it is to ask for help! I remember being a junior in college, unraveling as I drove through the dark downtown streets of our little college town, mid-snow, mid-panic attack. Smoking a cigarette and sucking down a steaming cup of coffee, begging for help, DC Talk’s In The Light on repeat:
I keep trying to find a life
on my own a part from You
I’m the king of excuses
I’ve got one for every selfish thing I do
What’s going on inside of me?
I despise my own behavior
This is only serves to confirm my suspicions
That I’m still a man in need of a Savior
I believed then that He would answer me. So I asked, and the nightmares grew worse. I banged on my Father’s locked door, and no one came. Doctors called it a hormonal imbalance, adjustment disorder, homesickness. I prayed harder, on my knees, scared to death to leave my bedroom for fear I would kill–yes, kill–my husband. A snake slithered through my heart. Stones rained down from heaven as I begged for sustenance; Heaven darkened and closed its doors above me.
I heard, felt, broke with the reverberation of alone.
For the first time in my life, I couldn’t feel God. I felt nothing but black and haunting abandonment of a Father I had always believed in. In my broken disbelief, I raged and raged. And then, I gave up.
Mental illness, unlike any other sickness or condition I have encountered, steals God from a soul. It was if every God-receptor I had was blown, every circuit shorted. All the capacity that I had possessed for good and light warped into darkness. The darkness blocked God from my sight, from my nerve endings.
I know in darkness that swampish demons masquerade as angels. Your hunt for home rips you from one set of arms and into another. All the while, the darkness fills and poison and terror set in. And that’s what it is to be mad: black. Moving black, roaring black, hell-courts-you-then-rapes-you black.
This is the pit David was speaking of in the Psalms, where the snake slithers freely and the monsters come alive.
And It was here, in this God-forsaken hole this daughter of the King found herself: aghast, broken, electrified with the ends of goodness now pulsing with dark.
I stopped asking to be saved after a while. I stopped believing that I would ever see heaven again. But that’s not the end of my story, and it doesn’t have to be the end of yours.
What I didn’t understand is that HE was still there, right beside me in the pitch black. He didn’t leave no matter how alone I felt. My brain shut me off from registering His presence, but it could not shut me off from Him.
Psalm 139 says,
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
Even the dark isn’t dark to God. And if you’re there, my friend, down deep in the pit so dark that you can not see your own hand in front of your face, know this:
HE IS THERE IN THAT PIT, THAT DARK, THAT SHAME, WITH HIS ARMS AROUND YOU. AND HE’LL NEVER LEAVE.
No matter where you make your bed tonight, no matter what you swallow or smoke or snort to quell your demons . . . He’s there.
No matter how many times you take the razor to your arms, He’s holding you.
No matter how broken you’ve left your family, your marriage, your livelihood, your dreams . . . He’s holding the pieces.
And when you feel the most alone, you’re not.
When you can’t feel God, when you are the most afraid you won’t beat this, go find someone to pray for you. If you were diagnosed with cancer, wouldn’t you go seek out prayer? If you were given any other diagnosis than the one you’ve been given, wouldn’t you go forward for healing, for anointing?
Why don’t we do this for the very illness that not only will kill us but shuts our hearts off from God?
Why don’t we keep asking?
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
I wish I would have known that He was still there. I wish I would have gone forward for prayer, instead of skulking in the dark, ashamed that He had abandoned me. I wish I would have known that no matter where I go, I am always His daughter.
So go. Go forward today. Ask for the anointing of the sick. Ask for prayer. And keep believing in the God of the dark, the God who follows His children into hell, the God whose love will never end.
You are not alone. You’re just sick.
Answered and loved,