It had been a tough week. Everything seemed to fall apart. Added to that was the pain of betrayal. A friend whom I had trusted and respected betrayed my confidence, turning away at the moment I needed her most. O God, why does it hurt so much?
Then a family member was diagnosed with cancer. Added to the pain in my heart was a new worry: fear. Fear of the future. O God, when will it stop?
The worst part was that I couldn’t sense the presence of Jesus anymore. I was praying. Pleading. Reading my Bible. Nothing. Why couldn’t I hear His voice? God, where are You? Are You hiding Your face from me? Is there sin in my life separating me from You?
The pain and fear ate away at my soul, while the sense of separation from my Father hung over me like a dark cloud. I had never struggled with depression before. I usually woke up every day with peace, excited about what God was going to do, about how He could use me to minister for Him. But now I wanted to run away and hide. It felt as if a physical weight had settled on my chest. Would I ever break free?
I tried all my normal routines. Praying with my husband, Greg. Talking faith. Refusing to listen to the enemy’s ever-present whispers: I always knew you were no good. What kind of Christian are you? You’ll never make it. My brave face fooled nobody. Not even me.
Then two things happened that began to change the tide. First, a woman asked me to pray for her. Normally I would have jumped at the chance. What greater joy is there than to pray for others? Now I felt like a failure. Who was I to pray for someone else?
I prayed anyway, taking her hands in mine as I spoke to my heavenly Father. Only now it seemed as though I couldn’t find Him anymore. I spoke the words aloud, regardless of my feelings. At least it was the right thing to do. Maybe that counted for something.
A few days later someone asked me to speak for a meeting. Usually I loved sharing what Jesus has done in my life, and the scriptures He’s used to bring deliverance. But how could I speak when I couldn’t feel His presence? I talked with Greg, the only person who knew how much I was struggling.
“You should do it, Jilly,” he said.
The lump in my throat suddenly swelled. “You know I can’t. If I were connected with Jesus, of course I’d speak. But I can’t hear Him anymore, so how can I speak for Him?”
“I know,” Greg nodded. “But it’s not about how we feel. Jesus might be the closest to you that He’s ever been. He’s not dependent upon our ability, or even our feeling of connectedness. Don’t let Satan win!”
So I made a choice. A choice based on surrender, on doing it God’s way whether I felt like it or not. And at that very moment God began to set me free!
Jill Morikone is administrative assistant to the president of 3ABN, a supporting Adventist television network. She and her husband live in southern Illinois and enjoy ministering together for Jesus.