When someone goes through a period of suffering, I believe, as in the poem Footprints that God carries you. As strange as it may sound, I have actually prayed for suffering when things were going well because it is so much easier to see God moving in my life during my struggles. I so long to know Him better and, as Malcolm Smith says, to "...live in God's love like a fish lives in the sea." How can we know God when we cannot see Him? We can hear his voice, the still small voice, we can read His letters to us (His words in the Bible), and we can see the Spirit at work in people He brings into our lives, in sunrises, in "coincidences," in closing doors and opening windows in our lives.
One way God has astounded me time and time again with His presence is that during my most anxious times, He sends me doves. I know that sounds kind of ridiculous, and I didn't attach much significance to my first doves. They would just "coo" in the trees around my apartment on returning home from a counseling session to remind me to not be anxious and that God loved me. But I have had a dove land directly in front of my car and stand in a busy four-way intersection for a moment looking at me, I would not see doves for months and then I would see them every day for weeks during a difficult period while I was waiting for a new job, and I once saw a pair of doves walking in the grass at the post office right off of a busy road during an especially anxious time. Many times, I hear one coo at a time when I am feeling so alone. But, the most miraculous dove, and how I praise Him for this little bird He sent to me, was outside my favorite Super 8 hotel room door, walking around in the sand on the parking lot that had blown off of the hotel's private Chesapeake Bay beach in Norfolk, VA. I've never seen a dove at the beach before or since, pigeons and gulls yes, but doves...? I will never forget the argument I had with God walking on that beach in the moonlight, and upon waking that morning, opening my door, and seeing that dove. You see, Jesus longs for us to know He loves us and that He is always saying "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27)
I am just amazed that the only reason I was offered and have succeeded in my current job is because I learned a skill when I was still quite sick, when I was no longer able to do patient care, and gained the necessary computer skills and database skills in my previous job--the job which kept me going during my divorce. I don't know why God brought me to my current location, but I have no doubt that He did bring me here, and I know that my healing is continuing in all areas of my life, not just with my OCD/depression.
Where do you see God as you walk through your trials? Look for the hints He sends that He has never left you and never will. Listen for His whispered words of encouragement, of grace, and of peace. Please know, there IS hope. It will get better; don't give up. You are not alone. And remember, your Savior is the Great Physician. The hands that hold you raised Lazarus from the dead!
The words of one of my favorite hymns follow. Perhaps one day we will also say in the words of the psalmist: "I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord." (Psalm 40: 1-3, NLT)
O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer's praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!
My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad
The honors of Thy name.
Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease;
Tis music in the sinner's ears,
Tis life, and health, and peace.
He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.
He speaks, and, listening to His voice,
New life the dead receive,
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice,
The humble poor believe.
Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb,
Your loosened tongues employ;
Ye blind, behold your Savior come,
And leap, ye lame, for joy. (Amen!)
Words by Charles Wesley, 1739