It's been said that sometimes when the night is darkest, the stars shine the brightest.
In the midst of my darkest days with PPD, when I felt like God was far away and ignoring me, He truly was holding me. Though He seemed silent, He kept me alive when I was feeling beyond overwhelmed by life and wanting to die and led me to just the right solution thanks to my very-wise doctor.
I never realized the depth of my husband's love for me until I felt completely unloveable and broken and needy, only to have him tenderly care for me and provide for all of my needs, showing me the most profound example I've ever seen of Christ's love for His church.
God has provided meals unexpectedly, through sweet friends, on some of the hardest days. And older women in my family and in church who care enough to ask, "How are you really doing?" and share their own experiences with postpartum depression and rearing 4 little ones. What a blessing it is to have their encouragement and to have them hold my baby for me at church, and have their older children help me carry diaper bags and corral kids! What a blessing it is to talk to friends my own age who have experienced PPD and offer tips and promise to pray.
According to "Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands" by Paul David Tripp, a book my aunt recommended to me, suffering:
*Gives us the opportunity to make truth concrete for people.
*Encourages us to depend on Christ, rather than on ourselves.
*Encourages humility and honesty.
*Redeems my story.
*Makes my life a window to the glory of Christ.
*Results in worship of Christ.
Suffering is not easy or fun. But, according to page 145 of this book, "Suffering is not only the common ground of human relationships, but one of God's most useful workrooms." And every one of us will suffer. "Our experience differs only in the degree of the pain." (Page 143.)
The paradigm of purposeful suffering, taken from Paul's example in 2 Cor. 1:3-11 leads us to see that we suffer to lead to the experience of God's comfort, producing the ability to comfort others, resulting in a community of hope. (Page 154.)
As I think about the trials we have been through, and the stories I could tell of God's faithfulness in those trials, I am inspired to comfort those who are in the situations I have been in, in the same way that loving people have ministered to me. I don't want to waste my life or my suffering. Whatever God has given me is a platform for His glory and I know He can use my sufferings, however small in comparison to the great sufferings of many in this fallen world, to bring comfort to others. So, someday, I'm going to be buying pizza gift cards for moms going through intense pregnancy nausea, and offering to babysit a mom with small children, and sending a helpful book to a young mom desperate for tips on getting her baby to sleep at night, and paying for a busy young mom to have a nanny come for a few hours once a week, and offering to hold the fussy baby, and bringing a meal by unexpectedly, or sending an e-mail asking if she is truly doing okay. And in doing these things, God will bring hope and comfort to those who are suffering.
May this post encourage you readers, in whatever you are facing today. One of my favorite quotes is, "Be kind, for every man you meet is fighting a hard battle." Whatever that battle is today, I pray that you would suffer for the glory of our Lord Jesus.