“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.