I was diagnosed with psychotic depression eight months after I became a Christian.
As a young Christian then, it was a confusing and devastating season. The diagnosis came when I had just started working for about one year. Adulthood had been seemingly falling into place only for me to realise that it was actually falling apart.
Why did this happen even though I have God in my life now? Isn’t God always present to protect His children from such suffering? Why is this happening to me, God?
My heart was thrust into a tumultuous sea of maniacal voices questioning, mocking and depreciating my newfound faith in Christ. It didn’t take long before these acrimonious voices of despair planted brewing, bitter seeds of resentment, distrust and anger towards God for letting this happen to me.
Within the span of a few weeks, I stopped going to church.
I was that one lost sheep in His flock of hundred, and true enough, He left the ninety-nine in the open country to pursue me.
At about the same time, I was slapped with a three-month medical certificate. My psychiatrist said I was no longer mentally fit to work.
I realised then just how severe my depression was, and the walls I had desperately built around my heart as coping mechanisms prior to my diagnosis came crumbling down defencelessly. I shut my ears and my heart towards the teachings of God and His still small voice that was whispering to me, and I retreated into a dark lonely corner where the Devil awaited.
In the most testing and challenging season of my life, I found the Devil’s voice ringing loud in my mind as he did all he could to entice me away from my Heavenly Father. Depression amplified the Devil’s voice to the point it was all I could hear, and the more I listened to his cunning voice, the more I believed his lies to be the truth.
Where is the God you said you believed and trusted? Where is He now that you are curled up on your bed, suffering in pain and emptiness? He isn’t here. And He isn’t coming. He doesn’t love you because you don’t deserve His love. You who are broken and torn apart by your very own mind, who would love a tangled mess such as yourself? You are broken. You are worthless.
Thoughts like these wormed themselves into my mind over the course of the next two months as I fell for Satan’s trick and slipped deeper into depression.
But do you know the most beautiful thing about having a relationship with God? It’s that God never leaves any of His children to stray.
No matter how deep you’ve sunk, or how angry you are against Him, He will never give up on you and will continue to watch over you and reach out to you through various means. I was that one lost sheep in His flock of hundred, and true enough, He left the ninety-nine in the open country to pursue me in all His wonderful, fatherly love.
As He knew that my heart was shut towards His voice, He used my cell group (CG) leader from church to reach me. Though I stopped attending church services and CG meetings, she never gave up on me. She checked up on me and persisted in inviting me back to church in a patient and understanding way every few weeks, continually reminding me that no matter how difficult a situation I was in, God was there for me.
Bitter, I responded curtly at first. But her dogged and loving persistence found a way into my heart and began to challenge what the Devil had been telling me about being unloved and worthless.
I was this massive ball of negativity and resentment towards God and everything else in life. My leader stood in stark contrast, continuing to encourage me, loving me – never giving up on me. In her persistence, I saw the love of God shining through, reaching out to me even when I had cast myself into the shadows to rot in my depression.
As God moved through my CG leader to touch my heart, the lies that had settled in my heart started to melt away as I reopened my ears and turned my heart to God again. A forgotten warmth and strength began to reinforce my heart as I started to pray to God and read His Word again, and I finally mastered the courage to step back into church again.
It was then I learnt that God really was there every step of the way with me, leading me back to Him through the people He had placed around me. He had never forsaken me. Through this episode of psychotic depression, my faith in Him was not only restored – it was reinforced.
I am definitely still a work-in-progress, and the Devil’s whispers still plague me in the quieter moments of the day. But things are different now. Instead of listening and absorbing his lies passively, I now retaliate with God’s authority – repelling and rebuking him with the Word.
God isn’t coming. He doesn’t need to “come” to me because He has always been right here next to me, be it in the past, in the present and in the future. Joshua 1:5 says: “No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Who would love a tangled mess like yourself? It is precisely because I am a tangled mess that God loves me all the more, only He knows the full extent my pain and He wants to free me from it! Psalm 34:18 tells me, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
I am broken indeed – but God never said that His Kingdom was only for perfect and unbroken people!
You are broken. I am broken indeed – but God never said that His Kingdom was only for perfect and unbroken people! We know this from Psalm 147:3, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” And Jesus said in Luke 5:31-32: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
You are worthless. No, I am not worthless in the eyes of God. He has His designs and plans (Jeremiah 29:11) for me to contribute to the Kingdom in this life. I am valued as a child of God.
You are unworthy. Well, yes! I am wholly unworthy of Him, as I have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). and yet God’s grace and mercy is a gift offered freely to us who believe in the redeeming blood of Christ for what He’s done for us on the cross.
The more unworthy and broken we are, the more we should run towards God and His perfect love!
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)
Friend, the Devil is cunning and his voice is louder in your states of weakness. Anchor your faith in God’s promises and rebuke the Devil with authority from God’s Word. Don’t dwell in negativity and resentment; dwell in God’s never-ending merciful light.
He loves us more than we can ever imagine.