Monday, August 10, 2015

Postpartum Depression, the Bible & Discipleship

After sharing a bit of my postpartum story, I shared my sister Mandy's testimony, who had a pretty severe case of postpartum depression. She experienced everything from anxiety to fear of harming herself or her baby. Hopefully through these testimonies you see the effectiveness of God's Word and discipleship. This is the last post of the series where I want to show you what the Bible says about worry, anxiety, and sadness and then how God's Word allows you to replace it with hope, faith and joy. 

First you need to know this one truth: the Bible exists to give you hope and encouragement (Romans 15:4). By reading stories like Job, who lost everything, and learn how God has asked us to handle tribulation, we become encouraged. By reading what Paul, Peter and other apostles and prophets say about Jesus and our hope found in Him alone, we become encouraged. The first and only place to find encouragement and hope that is eternal, is in God's Word.

So what does the Bible say about Job and tribulation?

And what does the Bible say about our hope in Jesus?

Hope in Jesus: These are the first questions I answered for Mandy after she asked me for help. I presented the gospel to her, because she needed reassurance in what the Bible says about our hope of salvation through Jesus Christ alone and she needed encouragement knowing that she is not alone in tribulation. There is help. She has not been abandoned.

Job and Tribulation: Job went through some extremely difficult circumstances. He lost his children, his wealth, his livelihood, everything. His first response to his loss was a wonderful example for us all, 
"The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." (Job 1:21) 
His response to his wife when she told him to curse God and die was also remarkable, 
"You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?" (Job 2:10) 
At this time his health was affected, BUT as time went on, and he endured months of suffering, his attitude changed and he begins to complain in chapter 3. Knowing all that he lost, all of us would justify this complaining. We'd even understand his lament over his own birth. I'm pretty sure not one of us would condemn Job for asking God "WHY?!" In fact, Job is so confident in his complaint and bitterness that he goes as far as telling God statements that should spark fear in the very depth of our soul, 
"I will give free utterance to my complaint; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. I will say to God, Do not condemn me; let me know why you contend against me." (Job 10: 1-2) 
or 
"But I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to argue my case with God." (Job 13:2) 
He states this desire to argue with God multiple times, 
"I would lay my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments." (Job 23:4) 
He even goes as far as asking, 
"What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? And what profit do we get if we pray to him?" (Job 21:15) 
Be honest, we've all asked those questions in times of hardship, God where are you? Why did you do this, I didn't deserve it?! Why should I believe in a God that would allow this to happen? 

Multiple friends come to comfort Job, and fail miserably, insisting he brought this upon himself. There is one young man, however, that speaks truth. His truth is the advice we all need to heed: 
"Job speaks without knowledge; his words are without insight." (34:35) 
and 
"Job opens his mouth in empty talk; he multiplies words without knowledge." (35:16) 
In all your Sunday school lessons did you ever hear, do not be like Job? Well, that's just what Elihu is suggesting. Instead of complaining and arguing your case to God, like Job, you need to instead, 
"Remember to extol his work, of which men have sung." (36:24)  
and to simply, 
"... stop and consider the wondrous works of God." (37:14)
If you want to know the wondrous works of God, begin by reading what God has said about Himself in His response to Job in chapters 38-41. It.is.awesome!

Why did I give you that giant explanation of Job? To help you understand what Mandy and I did on that night of transformation. Instead of focusing on her hardship, we instead focused on the greatness of God!

He is sovereign. 
He is faithful. 
The earth and everything in it is His.
His knowledge is unsearchable.
He provides.
He satisfies.
He holds our breath in His hands.
He knows each star by name.

And that's just the beginning of everything God reveals of Himself in chapters 38-41! Focusing on the greatness of God, worshiping Him, praying to an Almighty, faithful, sovereign God leaves no room for anxious thoughts! So that's just what we did. We listened to this song over and over again,
We cried together. 
We prayed together; thanking God for His gift of salvation, for a love that casts out fear, for working in us even in hardship, that when beyond our understanding you're teaching us to trust, and for being with us through the fires and floods.

That night began a discipleship relationship where we studied the book of Romans. It was that night and the extreme transformation God brought about, that began an incredible journey. Whenever she began to worry, or be anxious, or have scary thoughts, she immediately went to the list she created, to help her focus her mind on God. She listened to this song, she read about God's greatness in His Word, she prayed, and there were many times she called me and we'd do all things together. That is the beauty of discipleship. You are not alone.

That is what I encourage a new mommy to do: find a woman who will help you focus on the greatness of God. Find a woman who will pray with you. Find a woman who will hold your baby while you rest. Find a woman who serves you through meals, cleaning your home, doing a load of laundry. Find a woman who helps you understand that your postpartum depression, no matter how difficult, is bringing you closer to God as you learn to trust Him through this fire! 

Through your depression He is...
... teaching you to trust.
... building your faith in Him.
... loving you so much that He's casting away all fear and doubts.
... working a mighty work within you, for His glory!
So be thankful and worship a great and mighty God.

* If you want to read what Jesus says about worry, I encourage you to read Matthew 6:25-34. There you will find hope by trusting that He will take care of you, just as He promised.

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