For the past year I have struggled on and off with anxiety and mild depression (yeah, this is Joseph, and yes this is true). Being a man of deep faith, I have begged to God to take this pain away from me, this constant worry, this feeling of dread and hopelessness. The past month has been just about the most difficult yet. I have felt as if God was far away, or not listening to my cries. It is indeed a difficult place to be, when your spiritual confidence has taken a beating.
Tonight I was thinking about the story of Naaman from 2 Kings 5. Naaman was a great soldier, and well respected by his king (the king of Aram), but he was a leper. He went to the king of Israel because he heard he could be healed by a prophet, then Elisha told him to wash in the Joradan River seven times. He thought the idea was rediculous and was about to go back to Aram when his servants encouraged him saying:
“had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?”
He washed in the Jordan and was healed.
His healing was from his act of faith — but to wash seven times. If he had washed 2 or 3 times, gotten fed up and left, he would not have been healed.
I believe that God is making me stronger through my suffering, or calling me to trust in him, to depend on him. I have not dipped seven times in the river.
I am not through with this pain, because I have not learned what it is he wants to teach me. Not yet.