In January I chose the word “Abide” to focus on for the year. Learning to live with this hormone treatment and dealing with a chemical inside my body has been a struggle. On a daily basis, I fight to keep from being overcome by the intense feelings of depression and thoughts of, “Do I really belong here anymore?” and, “Can God still use me?” Recently, I became desperate and decided to study the word “abide”. What does it really mean to abide?
I found an article by Desiring God that describes it this way: “To abide is believing, trusting, savoring, resting and receiving.” The words savoring and receiving really jumped out at me. I hadn’t ever considered those words as describing abide. Consider the scripture that says, “I am the vine, you are the branch.” Whatever comes through the vine goes directly to the branch. If we’re hungry, He feeds us (daily bread), if we’re thirsty, He gives us water (living water). Whatever our need, He provides and satisfies.
So, how does this apply to depression? Or maybe for you it’s fear, anxiety … a life circumstance that seems like it’s winning and you’re losing. For me it means to sit in Jesus’ presence. Truthfully, I’ve been doing a lot of this lately; but, as I asked myself a few weeks back in the midst of depression, “why isn’t this bringing me joy?” What I realized is that I needed to sit in His presence anyway because I know He is my only hope. And in this persistence of sitting with Him, I felt Him speaking to my spirit about what abide meant – what it meant for me in my circumstance! He’s literally given me a recipe that I’m savoring!
Take every thought captive. This means those thoughts like “I don’t belong here anymore” need to be replaced with truths like “He who began a good work in you WILL see it through to completion.”
Dive deep into who Jesus is. Get my eyes off the waves (depression, fear, chemical imbalance, or other life circumstance). Listen to songs that only glorify God. Lift up Jesus’ name. Learn all the names of Jesus and what they mean. I’m currently reading The Power of Jesus’ Names by Tony Evans. Just learning the name “Immanuel” has been so powerful. The name means “God with us”. He was first named this in Isaiah when they were in captivity. Life was bleak, but Jesus promised He was with us. In the dark when it feels there is no hope, no way of escape, He is with us.
And finally, I can’t compare my healing time to someone else that has gone through a similar journey. No two people are exactly the same. So when I start to feel like I should be healed and better by now, I have to remember that this is no else’s journey but mine.
I’m not out of the woods yet, but I know that I need to stay faithful with these practices, because Jesus is in the business of healing. And even though I’m not “healed” yet, my hope is in Jesus and Jesus alone. It’s not in the healing itself. Keep trusting, keep abiding, keep resting, keep receiving everything Jesus has to offer, keep believing and keep sitting in fellowship with Jesus.
I’m now coming back to write this several days after ending with that last paragraph, and I’m overjoyed to report to you that I feel as though God has given me a way of escape! After learning what it meant to abide and putting all the above ideas into practice, I decided to literally take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. Anytime I would look at the waves around me, feel fear or my chest began to tighten, I would picture Jesus’ nail-driven hands or laying at His nail-driven feet. After a week of doing this, I feel so much freedom. I had begun to think my battle plan that’s always worked for every situation doesn’t apply to me because I have a chemical that’s taking over my mind; but, even with depression and a chemical messing with my mind, I asked God to give me the recipe to overcome this phase in my life so I could help other women through this, and this is what He gave me! I’m not saying I’ll never have fear again or look at the waves around me; but now, instead of feeling like there’s no hope, I know that NO MATTER your circumstances, keep your eyes on Jesus! He can overcome ANYTHING!!
Abide! Fully trust, fully rest, fully savor, fully believe, actively receive and be in constant fellowship with Jesus. This is easier said than done, but my heart is crying out for you to understand the freedom that you can live in!
Abide means to fully trust. Trust that even when you don’t see how that life circumstance could possibly turn out good, “God works everything out for good to those who love Him.” It might not turn out exactly the way you wanted it to, but it will turn out for the good of God’s glory.
Abide means to fully rest. This means laying down EVERY care, EVERY fear, EVERY bit of anxiety. Lay down all the weight of everything that keeps you awake at night and picture yourself resting at Jesus’ feet.
Abide means to savor. Think about a piece of cake that was absolutely divine and you wanted to savor every bite. I’m thinking about a Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake that I just made last week … wowzers!! Or maybe a moment spent with a child or best friend and you wanted to savor every second spent with them because it was such a sweet time. Do you savor Jesus? Every ounce of love and grace that He has poured into you, do you savor every moment you sit with Him in sweet fellowship?
Abide is the act of receiving. Receive everything that Jesus has to offer. Remember the analogy of the vine and the branch. Everything that Jesus has to offer is right in your reach. It flows straight from Him to you if you are connected to His power source. All the power, love, truth, daily bread and living water that flows from Him, you have access to.
Abide means being in fellowship with Jesus. Yes, read your Bible and pray. But it’s more than that. Have constant communication with Him. Think about your best friend that you always want to share the good, bad and ugly with. Have that relationship with Jesus, but even closer. The second you wake up, are you reaching for your phone or do you feel like you’re picking up a conversation with Jesus that you left off from the night before? The second you have to make a tough decision at work or your kids just made a bad choice and you have to decide how to handle it, is your first thought to ask God, “What do I do?”
My heart feels as though it’s about to burst with love for our sweet Jesus. His goodness continues to astound me!
If there is something in your life that you are overwhelmed with, I hope you’ll reach out to me because I understand the feeling of hopelessness, and I don’t want another sister in Christ to struggle alone.
I love you friends! Abide with Jesus today! Keep your eyes fixated on Him and don’t look away! He is EVERYTHING you need!