We are in the middle of Celebrate Recovery East Coast Summit 2018 in Hendersonville, TN and let me tell you it has been quite an experience. I might also mention that this is also my very first Summit that I have attended since being in CR. I have always wanted to go, but never in my life would I have ever thought that I would be where I am now. I have listened to story after story from those who have come up to the CR Mental Health Initiative table and poured their heart out, spoke of their struggles and how they have overcome them. I have listened to uplifting devotionals and I have heard encouraging speakers. Within all that I have experienced this week, through my own personal struggles, I have come face to face with a recurring theme: I am in the place I am right now because it is right where God wants me.
I had a conversation with someone about the story of Job and how it seemed that perhaps God did not care much about the lives of those servants, Job’s family, and the others who were negatively affected by allowing them to die regardless of their faith in Him. It wasn’t fair. The person admitted that it was a good point, then posed this question to me…”Who was the one getting the lesson in the story?” In my haste I answered Job. However, I was then corrected and told that it was Satan who was receiving the lesson. God used Job and his faith to teach Satan a lesson, to show dominance in the war between good and evil. Job was right where God wanted him to be, struggling, grieving, in physical, mental, and emotional pain, and even questioning God Himself. Job was someone who was trying to live his life, yet he was afflicted with all of those losses and such deep pain. Here is the kicker…Job had done nothing wrong to bring on these terrible things, to have to lose everything. He had committed no sin or wrongdoing. Still he suffered greatly, suffered immensely.
Job endured this pain and loss for a great time. Finally, he spoke his pain out to God, questioning why he was born, why he had not died at birth. In my perception, one of the most powerful things he says in his spoken word is
“Why is light given to him who is in misery,
and life to the bitter in soul, who long for death, but it comes not…”
This is often how I myself have felt. I have questioned my existence. I have questioned if I matter, if I have a purpose. I have questioned why I continue to have such painful situations happen in my life, why I continue to struggle deeply with my mental health. I have asked God “How are you using me, God? Isn’t there a better way?” Yet, God has not changed what I am experiencing. He has not given me an easier path. And today, it really hit me as I sat and thought about the conversation I had today.
God had Job exactly where he wanted him. He knew Job had unshakable faith and would remain loyal, and even boasted to Satan about Job’s faith. Even though Job had faith, he still endured pain, still struggled, still questioned. God trusted Job. It wasn’t about Job at all…it was about God’s greater purpose. To continue to fight against evil. THAT was Job’s purpose. There was purpose for Job’s pain, in his suffering.
Therefore, I took a look at applying that to my own situation. I have asked God why. I have thought that I must have sinned or committed some form of wrongdoing for God to allow such persistent pain in my life, even though I have remained loyal. However, that is not true. Perhaps God does have me exactly where He needs me to be in the fight against evil. Perhaps my faith in Him is serving His greater purpose in reaching others, to be open and vulnerable about my struggles, about my mental health issues. To talk about it and share my testimony. Perhaps where I am in my struggle is going to save others from the effects of evil, from the effects of a silent struggle. See, the enemy wants us to say silent. I’m fighting against that silence. So if the enemy wants us to stay silent, then I am fighting the enemy. God is using my pain, my struggle to speak through me, to use me for His greater purpose. Everything that I have done up until now, everything that I have endured, has led me to this moment right here, in a position on the CR Mental Health Team, something that I never would have dreamed that I would be doing.
IT’S OKAY TO STRUGGLE. IT’S NOT OKAY TO STRUGGLE ALONE. TO STAY SILENT.
God has us exactly where He wants us. We just have to remember that just like Job, it’s not all about us. It’s about the greater purpose. It’s about spiritual warfare. It’s about having FAITH in a God who can speak things into existence.
We must continue to lead by example. Don’t stay silent. Keep talking through the struggle. Keep taking it one moment at a time. God uses the broken. He is also using us through our struggle with mental health issues, too.
April Brantley, CR Mental Health Team X-Factor