When the hubs and I were first married, he joined the Navy. While he was in training, he was gone for 12-16 hours a day, and I was alone with a tiny baby most of the time. I was also super homesick (we were living in Idaho then) and suffering from postpartum depression.
I knew I needed to be reading my Bible and going to church, but it all just seemed so overwhelming to do by myself, so I settled for Christian radio and the Televangelist channel.
You know the one I mean.
I figured I was being “fed” spiritually so I was ok.
I was wrong.
Being “fed” by most televangelists (Billy Graham excluded because I believe he is the real deal) is the equivalent of eating air. Not only is there no nutrition whatsoever, you also end up with a giant stomach ache, weaker and sicker than when you began.
I remember one day watching John Hagee and hearing him say, “If you’re depressed, you need to get off the pity pot and praise the Lord.” The implication was made over and over that depression and poverty were self-inflicted. A more spiritual person would not suffer from either, because it was God’s will that everyone be well and rich.
I was neither.
It was then that I began to wake up to the dangers of this teaching. Although the sermons often began with quotes from scripture they always ended the same way, telling the viewers that God wanted me whole, God wanted me well, and God wanted me rich, and if I wasn’t, it was my fault. My walk with Jesus was in danger. I needed to pray and he would deliver me from all physical, emotional and financial stress. Mr. Hagee (and others on the same channel) promised a two-step program to finding my way back into God’s graces. Step one: pray and ask for it. Step two: send money as an “offering” to God to show I meant business. If I wasn’t willing or able to do both, then my situation would remain the same and there was nothing I could do about it. I had no one to blame except myself.
Eating air and getting a stomach ache? That’s the best case scenario. The worst thing that can happen is that a believer who longs for spiritual sustenance is instead starved to death under the teachings of these false prophets. They are our modern-day temple merchants, prospering from the offerings of those who take their words to heart while their flocks are left worse than when they came to the table.
Don’t listen to these preachers, dear one. Find a church that sticks closely to the scripture. Surround yourself with those who love you and will pray for and with you.
I realized it had been about 10 years since I had listened to Mr. Hagee so I pulled up one of his sermons on depression on YouTube. After a cheerful greeting from Mr. and Mrs. Hagee, a quick “opportunity” for the viewer to donate appears well before the actual sermon. I’m ashured that my donation is tax-deductible, so not only am I helping God and all those sinners, I can also get a break on my taxes. Woo. Hoo.
He’s still saying the same thing. He actually said the words “pity pot” but he makes a small disclaimer: he now says, “I’m not talking about clinical depression. I’m talking about when you are feeling less than happy, or a bit blue.” That’s not depression. That’s a bad mood. I don’t need your help with that Mr. Hagee.
As Christians, we are not promised that we will not suffer. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar. We are not promised that we will always be healed. We are not promised that, no matter how much we pray and rage that people we love will be sick, and maybe even die. We are not promised wealth.
All we are promised is that Jesus resides within us. Can God heal us miraculously? Yes. Will he always? No.
Jesus is able to restore us, and he doesn’t need $20 to do it. But sometimes, he doesn’t restore us. Sometimes we are left broken, mourning, and poor. That’s just how it is, dear one. There are some things we will never, ever understand on this side of the veil. We must cling to the Word and remember that God tells us that all things work for good for those who love him.
Even if we can’t see it now.
The best we can hope for is that Jesus is with us in our pain. He never leaves us. He sent his Spirit for our comfort. He sent his people to minister us for us to minister to. Sometimes Jesus looks like my best friend. Sometimes, if I listen and obey, He looks like me.
Take heart. I can promise this: your pain will not always be so intense. Everything is for a season, and the seasons are always changing. Look, dear one–the leaves change and time passes. With pain is also blessing.