“Can You really use this for good, Lord?”
It was a question I asked God time and time again as I walked the dark, lonely road of depression in 2020. I knew He promised He was able to use everything for His purposes (Rom. 8:28), but I couldn’t fathom how He could take the bleak, hopeless days of brain fog and overwhelming fear and turn them into something good.
I just wanted to escape the nightmare. I wanted to understand. I begged Him to show me something, anything to make sense of this broken mess.
I didn’t get the answer I wanted.
Instead, He whispered, “Wait on Me. Trust Me. You’ll see.”
It was a hard lesson in trust, but as the months passed, I began to see all the ways God had indeed used my depression for good. Perhaps not in the way I expected, but all the same, He’d taken my ashes and created something beautiful out of them.
And it’s three of those ways I want to share with you today.
1. I realized how weak I am and how strong God is.
Wait a moment, you might be saying. How can realizing you’re weak be a good thing?
Hear me out. The key is in the second part—that God is strong.
While it was crushing to realize how fragile I really was, it was deeply encouraging to realize that Jesus was stronger than my weakness. He was the One who sustained me when I felt like I couldn’t go on. He was the One who lifted me up each day when I could barely get out of bed. He was the One who whispered words of peace to me amid paralyzing fear.
“For when I am weak, then I am strong,” Paul declares in 2 Corinthians 12:10 (ESV). Once I realized I didn’t need to rely on my own strength (which would most certainly fail), and that Jesus was all I needed, then the weight of perfection was no longer on me, but on God, the One who never fails. How wonderful is that?
It was then I could truly say with Paul, “Your grace is sufficient for me, for Your power is made perfect in weakness” (paraphrase of 2 Cor. 12:9).
2. I learned how important balance is to a healthy life.
I’m an all or nothing kind of person. Either I give it my all or I give up altogether. Sometimes it’s a good trait to have, but other times, it’s really not. Because it means I’m not very good at balance. It means I either energetically throw myself into a project for months or I abandon it altogether after three days once I run into a problem. There’s no in between.
Depression taught me just how vital balance is to a healthy life. It was my overworking tendencies that partially led to my depression in the first place. My mind had reached burnout and was telling me to stop.
God created us with a variety of amazing abilities. But we also have limitations, and He’s given us built-in warning signs to alert us when we’re approaching those limits. Part of being responsible Christians is listening to those warnings and managing what He has given us wisely–including our bodies.
Work is good, but it becomes unhealthy if we’re not balancing it with family time. Entertainment is good, but it becomes unhealthy if we’re not balancing it with intentional time spent with God and people.
It all comes down to making sure we’re nourishing every part of ourselves—body, soul, and spirit.God created us with amazing abilities, but we also have limitations. Part of being responsible Christians is listening to warnings and managing what He has given us wisely; nourishing body, soul, and spirit. Click To Tweet
3. I learned how to empathize with the broken and hurting people around me.
There’s something about shared suffering that creates a special bond between people. Going through depression helped me view those hurting around me with more compassion. It gave me a burden to reach out to fellow young people struggling with mental illness.
We tend to make suffering all about us. (I know I certainly do.)
No one else has gone through what I’ve gone through, we think. I’ve had it incredibly hard. No one will understand.
As God began to change my perspective though, I began to realize that maybe, instead of focusing so much on my suffering and my pain, God wanted me to step outside myself to serve someone else. Maybe, instead of wallowing in self-pity, He wanted me to open my eyes and see all the people around me who needed His hope. Maybe He was giving me a way to help those broken, hurting people in a more profound way.
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ,” Paul instructs the believers in Galatians 6:2. Suffering offers us that chance as it opens a window into the universal human experience of pain. It allows us to truly understand what another is going through on a deeper level. And most of all, it gives us the opportunity to testify of the triumph of Christ amid a dark world.Suffering opens a window into the universal human experience of pain. It allows us to truly understand what another is going through, and it gives us the opportunity to testify of the triumph of Christ amid a dark world. Click To Tweet
The Bottom Line
God doesn’t always answer why. Maybe you’re going through a time of suffering and you’re struggling to make any sense of it. Maybe you’re on the other side and you still don’t have the answers. I still don’t know all the reasons why God allowed me to go through depression.
But one thing I do know:
Every valley, every trial, every suffering is a chance to grow closer to Him. Even if I never know all the reasons for my suffering, I can say that He did use it for good. Because my relationship with Christ grew in ways it never could have without it. And that is the very best thing that could have happened.
Dear hurting friend, I know it can be hard to see any good when you’re surrounded by so much pain. I know it can seem like God has abandoned you, like He’s ignoring you.
But He hasn’t.
Even when you can’t see it, He is creating a beautiful tapestry with your life.
He is using every part of your life, even the dark, messy parts, for good. Because God’s plan is always good. And God is always good. All the time.
Thanks for sharing! This was exactly what I needed to hear. I’ve struggled with depression too and I’ve definitely learned the same lessons. God is always strong when we are weak. 🤍
Amen! I’m so glad this encouraged you.
Ah, Kristianne, I LOVED this!!! Thank you SO much for sharing your insight with us, and I’m just gonna echo what the commenter before me said because it’s so true. This was exactly the post I needed to read today!! It’s just remarkable how God takes our struggles and pain and works good. And like you said, He’s always with us! Amen!
Thank you for your sweet comment, Issabelle! I’m so glad this was an encouragement to you, friend. It’s such a comfort to know that we don’t have to walk through it alone!
Thanks for writing! I’m coming out of a season of depression and have seen all the good things you wrote about. I’ve come to know God as my Father and refuge. I never knew how strong He is and how much He loves me until I had to let Him carry me. Now, I’m more motivated than I’ve ever been to share the hope that God gives.
I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through that, Emily, but I’m glad you’ve seen God working through it. What a comfort to know that He is our strength and refuge!
Amen to this. I’m almost 19 and from the time I was 11 I have experience deeper and deeper depression in waves. But God is so good to let me be able to minister to others through that. I have also discovered how important it is to focus on God and others when I am feeling so down. That’s the key. There is no sense in focusing on our weakness if we do not replace that with focusing on His strength to help others.
Amen!! When we realize all the ways we can serve others through our suffering, it really helps to get the focus off ourselves and onto God and give glory to Him through it.
I have been stuck here lately because I have depression see I have a therapist I take medication but it does not seem to help but after reading this article I realize i need to start going back to church
I’m so sorry you’re struggling with depression, Haylee. Medication and therapy certainly have their place, but Jesus is the only lasting solution in this broken world. I’m praying that you will find true healing in Him.
Thank you for this article! Often, I have found that the fear of suffering becomes greater than the suffering itself (aftermath of depression/late stage of depression). However, we must remember that our suffering only brings us closer to Christ who also suffered.
“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.” -Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
That’s a good point! After coming out of the worst of my depression, I struggled with a lot of fear that it would happen again. But as Christians, we can rest in the knowledge that Jesus will walk that road with us and He will never give us more than we can bear. Thank you for sharing your perspective!
What a privilege it must be to be so young and have grown up believing these things and raised in a home with parents who pursue God and instill that in their children.
A believer from a young age, I have suffered enough in the absence of God’s voice, plan, and blessing to give up and reject most everything about God’s goodness in this life and the life after aside from not burning forever in the last couple of weeks. I see the promises. I know the bible. My disappointment, discouragement, doubt, and anger only grow when I hear them now.
With the childhood and adult experiences I have gained awareness on in recent years, it was a sad realization to make that I was allowed to grow up emotionally abused and stunted relationally with low self worth and self confidence. I was allowed to be taught to believe in salvation but not given an example of truly trusting in God. I was allowed to not have an example of relational intimacy. God allowed it all.
He allowed a mother with depression, anxiety, insomnia, who wasn’t taught the mental and emotional skills to face life, to never be the mother I needed. He allowed a father who lacked emotional connection to his father to, while he did his best, be passive and not protect me from mother. He allowed them both to use most of their time to take care of sick and dying family elders. He allowed me to be unequipped to know Him and get needs met from Him, and seek it in friendships, relationships, and idols. He set me up to be emotionally and mentally unready for life.
He allowed deep scars from rejection and abandonment in friendships, dating relationships, and even dreams of dating relationships. He allowed them all to reject and abandon me, just to reaffirm over and over what was instilled as a child. What he did when I tried to find it in him is be silent. All the growth and effort to pursue him and his supposed healing has grown me in some ways. I haven’t killed myself. Yet.
It’s ironic that I believed in so much when I was in my late teens, when I knew nothing of the neglect and lacking until 15 years later. Now, in search of peace from being rejected, neglected, and abandoned by others I trusted and allowed myself to have expectations of, and in a state of complete disappointment by God, I run across a new blog such as this from someone the age I was, with a perspective on suffering, particularly depression, it would have been nice to have. Maybe life would have been different.
In my weariness I seek support from other people, God himself, the Bible, Christian-based books, support groups. Nothing, and I mean nothing, helps. Anything that somewhat helps is but a momentary aid the scars of 33 years of life. Talking to God infuriates me the most, usually.
He uses me, even in my unending and ever-increasing pain, despair, frustration, anger, and quite frankly, bold-faced hatred of the promises he makes about needs/desires/etc., to reach and help people. This, too, angers me. He does what he wants, only what he wants, and not when but if he wants. The things that are of this world such as marriage, the constructs he himself created, and then gave me the desire to want, won’t be present in the next life according to revelation. Yet he leaves me to be devoid of intimate relationships with people. Never once in my life have I had what I would quantify as true intimacy with another human or with him.
Why would I believe he wants to give me something like that when not even my own mother could provide relational closeness for me? Why would I believe he wants the best for me when all the friends I have ever had have left me (aside from some Christian friends only made in the last 6 years). Even these Christian friends can only provide temporary relief from loneliness and isolation. Why would I believe him just because he makes promises, yet allows me to not only continue to be wounded but to have always been wounded? I never had a chance to be secure in human relationships, and he never provided it himself.
He denies relief from things, from people, from scriptural knowledge. He denies change and healing from himself. He certainly hears prayers but remains silent. There’s no where left to go, yet nothing has changed. I don’t know why I bothered posting, aside from all-consuming frustration, anger, and pain.
Any posting of scripture, as I stated above, I have already seen and heard in the desperation of recent years, up to this very day. Endlessly reading, I have run out of scriptural books, chapters, verses, and stories about the topics in this post.
He is either going to come through or, as his track record has shown, he isn’t, before I fully give up on the fleeting tomorrows I have left.
Hi, M. I’m so very sorry to hear all of this. My heart aches and hurts for all you’ve gone through and how you’ve felt God’s absence. I’m truly, truly sorry. I’ve asked many of the same questions you have and while I do not have all the answers, I plead with you to not give up on life or on God. Because even if you cannot feel Him or don’t believe it right now, He DOES love you and I’m praying He comes through for you in the way you need Him to. Lifting you up in prayer now. Thank you for sharing your heart. If there’s anything we can do to help you, please feel free to let us know and know that you will be in my prayers!
Hi, M. I happened by chance to stumble on this article today. I can’t say anything better than Miss Sara, but I do want you to know that I’m praying for you as well. Continuing and always praying for you. Please know that you are not alone, you matter very much, and God truly loves you. I know it can be easy at times to question God’s love. I often remind myself of Jesus’ sacrifice. He chose to endure pain and suffering because He loves you. Jesus chose to give His life for you. Nothing I say may help, but I can tell you that I care and that I am praying for you.
M, I am so sorry for the pain and suffering you’ve gone through. My heart aches for what you’ve endured. While my suffering has not been as severe as yours, there have been times in my life when I have felt like God was silent, like He didn’t care. But I can promise you that He does hear and He does care, even when it doesn’t feel like it. I have seen Him come through time and time again when it seemed like my prayers went unanswered. Your life matters to Him because you are precious to Him. I would encourage you to keep holding on, to keep reading the Bible and talking to Him because He is the God who hears and sees. Please know that I’m praying for you, and if you ever need someone to talk to, my email is open.