September 10, 2020 | Jaci Miller
Andy scribbled once with the white crayon and paused. No marks showed on the white paper.
“Keep going,” I said. “You can’t see it now, but we’ll see your coloring later.”
In the past, many of my toddler students (understandably) couldn’t anticipate the coming fun. But Andy trusted me and scribbled on.
I finally stopped him and handed him a paintbrush. “Watch what happens when you paint the watercolors over your paper.”
As Andy smeared his sheet with blue and red, white lines emerged.
“Look!” I exclaimed. “That’s where you colored. The crayon repels the water.”
Wow, did the spiritual implications hit me.
Most of my adult life, I have struggled with depression, and more recently, anxiety. While never suicidal, many times I begged God to take my life away from me. To take me to a safe place where I would never again have to fight for merely an emotionally neutral baseline.
Obviously, He never did.
Andy and I both arrived at places of not understanding. He overcame his misgivings pretty quickly for a toddler. I still struggle.
While trust and faith in the unseen seems the most obvious connection to my coloring anecdote (and I certainly have dwelt on those ideas), Isaiah 43:16-21 (NIV) truly captures the heart of the matter. As captives in Babylon, the Israelites probably struggled to understand what God was doing, probably fought to maintain a spiritual baseline, to believe that God cared. Thus, the need for Isaiah to speak God’s words:
This is what the Lord says—
he who made a way through the sea,
a path through the mighty waters,
who drew out the chariots and horses,
the army and reinforcements together,
and they lay there, never to rise again,
extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:
“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing! [emphasis added]
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
The wild animals honor me,
the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,
the people I formed for myself
that they may proclaim my praise.
The Scripture reminds us how God worked in the past, but then it does a remarkable thing. It instructs us to forget the former things. Remember what God did? Good. Now focus on what He is doing next. He has made a way, a path. And what are we supposed to do with a path? Walk it!
In effect, God says, “Jaci, I’ve rescued you before. Remember? But never mind that now. I am making a new way for you, a new path to walk through your darkness and depression and despair. So walk it. I will sustain you in the wilderness of your journey to me, even past the predators, because you are mine. And you will praise me for it.”
When depression and anxiety return, and I’m unable to see the big picture like Andy, I give pause. Keep going? What for?
I don’t understand why God doesn’t squash my struggles once and for all. I know He can. But until He does, or even if He doesn’t, I can praise through the pain and find God’s beauty, not despite the hurt … but through the hurt. Even when praising might feel horribly wrong, I will fight that feeling and show up anyway.
Why do Andy and I have to “keep coloring”?
Think of the beauty we’ll miss if we don’t.
What new thing does God want to do with you? How can you “keep coloring”?
- If you or someone you know needs help, I have provided some mental health tips that have helped me in my own life here.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org