No Missing Pieces
Sometimes our deepest struggles convince us that we are missing vital parts that we need in order to live well. When we do not receive the things we believe we need most, despair can set in. But we are never without hope, because we are never without Jesus. This is an excerpt adapted from my newest book, The Radiant Midnight: Depression, Grace, and the Gifts of a Dark Place. -MM
I have struggled with depression and anxiety most of my life. I used to hate those parts of me. I prayed over and over again for God to take away my deepest afflictions. When it did not happen, I doubted God’s goodness. Like Eve in the garden of Eden, I wondered if He was holding out on me. Like a puzzle from a garage sale, I was sure I was missing pieces. It was devastating to feel that damaged. It felt like God was keeping the best blessings to Himself or giving them to other people instead.
But the most vulnerable parts of your personhood and the most painful aspects of your story are not a result of God’s frugality. Eve was just as naked before she ate the fruit as she was after. Her vulnerability and nakedness were not liabilities; they were intentional and beautiful in the eyes of God. They were there before everything went south, which means they were never a problem that needed solving. Just because she didn’t know as much as God didn’t mean she was lacking in anything. She was whole because she was His.
Satan crept in to the garden of Eden and whispered stories of God’s scarcity while surrounded by His abundance. The garden was overflowing with trees heavy with fruit. Eve had access to everything she needed and more. She wasn’t missing any pieces. Her vulnerability was only a problem when she trusted herself more than she trusted God. Shame only made an appearance after she believed she needed more than she had. When she hid from God, she hid from hope.
I prayed for God to take away the stake in my side for a long time. So far, He has not. I’ve made peace with that. I no longer place my hope in my prayers; I place it in the one I pray to. I don’t hate my weaknesses anymore. I’ve started to trust their meaning and value because I’ve started to trust my meaning and value in the eyes of God. Vulnerability in the presence of hope is nothing to be ashamed of.
Some of your longings may never be fulfilled. That will probably always sting a little. But you will perpetually have what you need most. God does not withhold his abundance, because He does not withhold Himself.
Confess the wishes you have for your life. Then release the expectations you’ve held for their answers. Let your deepest desires slip through your fingers in order to hold onto something more powerful. Open your hand wide and grasp the hope that Jesus Christ offers instead, namely, His unshakable presence in the midst of Midnight. He may not give you all that you ask or want. But He will give what you need most with abundance, because He gives Himself with abandon. Emotions, longings, and circumstances will shift and swirl. Weaknesses and failings will emerge. In all of them, Jesus Christ remains unmovable. Hope is the foundation upon which you can build your life. You are not missing any pieces. You will not be put to shame.
Placing your hope in God isn’t some wispy, romantic idea that floats around in shades of pastel and glimmers of craft glue. It is a bold, brave act. It declares once and for all that your circumstances do not have the final say. Hope has the final word because God has the final word. It’s not just for someday. Hope is right here. Right now.
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