So often when people are diagnosed with a mental illness/disorder, they begin to feel “less than” as a contributor to life. I know that after I was diagnosed and then forced to resign as a pastor of the church I was serving, due to a manic episode, I felt broken to the point of uselessness. But what I have discovered is that the Lord is in the business of redeeming and reframing our brokenness; He’s in the business of redeeming our pain. The Lord never wastes pain. In fact, I believe that it is that point of deep pain that becomes exactly the very thing that the Lord redeems for our good and then that point becomes how He uses us. It is because of our deepest point of pain we are able to think outside of the box. We are able to offer compassion and understanding to those who are going through the same sort of pain.
What has surprised me the most about the Lord’s redemption of my pain and past is how He is using my leadership gifts. I am shocked at how my perspective of and the way that I lead today has changed so much since going through brokenness and pain. Daily, because of what I have gone through and experienced, I have the opportunity to provide leadership from the point of serving those who are in pain. Before having been broken, I would never have had enough patience to come along side those who are in deep pain. However, today my point of fulfillment, my “sweet spot” of ministry, is giving hope to those who are some of the darkest places of unimaginable pain. I consider it a sacred privilege, and I am humbled to see how my pain is redeemed by allowing others to see how He carried me through. It brings them hope. When that happens, it is a holy moment that He orchestrated through my very brokenness.
My friend, if you find yourself in a dark and painful point in your journey of this life, please know this: the Lord WILL take this and make it work together for your good. You are not suffering in vain. There is purpose in it. There is a blessing in it. He is for you. He loves you. You are not alone. As deep as your pain goes, joy will be high when He begins to redeem your pain. And please know this, you are NOT “less-than“. You are not broken merchandise. In fact, it is at your point of brokenness that you become the most usable for His work in your life and in His Kingdom. This is about redemption. The Lord is working things together for your good even in the darkest parts of the valley you are going through. And in the midst of the suffering and pain, there are gifts – precious gifts – that you can’t even imagine!
But, if you succumb to the feelings of worthlessness and brokenness and the feelings of “less-than” you may never find those gifts; and instead live your life believing the lie that no gifts were given through your pain – that your pain had no purpose at all. That’s a lie. And it leads to nothing but more pain and hopelessness. Stand on the Word of God, Romans 8:28, and don’t lean on your feelings. Feelings are real, but sometimes they are based on a lie. Here’s the truth: the Lord is taking and will take ALL THINGS and work them together for your good. He’s at work. He’s up to something. He can be trusted. Sometimes you have to simply, by faith, choose to have hope in spite of how you feel. Yes, hope IS a choice. You have to choose it. It’s not a wishful-thinking type of hope, but it is a certain and sure hope. HE WILL, yes, WILL, work out all things together for your good. That’s a certainty.
One of the books I’ve read that really helped me to see how the Lord could use me in significant ways in spite of and even because of my having bipolar disorder is A First Rate Madness by Dr. Nassir Ghaemi. It’s a book full of encouragement to see how those who have a mental health challenge can be used even in some of the most significant leadership roles as national and international leaders. After reading it, I realized even more how the Lord could use my pain and experiences due to bipolar disorder for my good and even use it for the good of others. See, because of what you and I have been through or even are going through causes us to see things outside of the box. Dr. Ghaemi goes through a whole list of major historical leaders and illustrates how they were great leaders due to having had a struggle with mental health! If you have not read the book, get it and read it! It will encourage you greatly. Check out this NPR post about A First Rate Madness: “Madness and Leadership, Hand in Hand“
It may not feel like it will ever be possible to feel joy again. You may not even have the energy to believe it. But it’s true. God is at work. And He will work it out together for your good, and He will use it to offer hope to others. And as He does that you will be amazed and filled with hope yourself. This is a certainty – unless you believe the lie that there is no gift or purpose within what you are going through right now. Don’t believe that lie. Take captive your thinking, (Check out the post on how to overcome ruminating: click here.) focus your trust and hope in God and all His promises of good for you.