I got the text from her about a week ago. She was going to be sharing her testimony with a group of her peers. She wanted me to come hear. It had been almost two years since I had even seen her. That time had been really good for her. The year I had gotten to know her was tough...extremely tough.
It started with a change of scenery. She needed a place to start over. A new friend group. A fresh start. Ultimately a new school. Changing schools isn’t always an immediate fix. It would prove not to be for her. The new year brought more of the same. Take a complicated relationship with an extremely under-involved parent, couple it with an inability to make friends, and having to sit out a year from playing the sport you love, and the perfect storm starts to form. A storm that leads to all kinds of anxiety and depression, even suicidal thoughts. That was the story. I can’t imagine what it is like to be a teenager in today’s world.
It never ceases to amaze me how God can line up all the right things and the right people at the right time. That’s a story that I never get tired of hearing. That was the story that she shared. At the height of her depression, the moment when the enemy was pressing in the hardest, it was a simple text message from an old friend that changed her outlook on life. That’s it. A text message. She probably sent and received over three hundred empty, meaningless ones every single day. But today, someone sent her one that mattered. It wasn’t much of a message. But it was enough. Because it showed her that someone actually cared. It changed her outlook. It opened her eyes. It restored her perspective. Victory is in the view.
That message gave her hope. And hope has a way of changing situations. I was her Bible teacher at the time. She came and talked to me about her struggle. I don’t know much about counseling people with depression. I don’t know how to talk to the person who is overrun with anxiety. I think any of us can listen and maybe provide a little comfort, maybe even suggest a couple things that have worked for us in similar seasons of our own lives. But I distinctly remember sitting there that day and thinking, “I have no idea what in the world to say to help this girl right now.”
If there is one thing that life has taught me, it’s what to do when I don’t know what to do. So I asked her, “How’s your prayer life? Where is God in all this?” And we talked about what that looks like for me and what she needs it to look like for her. I told her a couple of my stories too. Real stories. You know the times that God had really intervened in my life when I had no answer. It brought her a little more hope. It started a trend that changed things for her. It began a journey of God bringing life to what was dead.
I got to stand there that morning in a room of a couple hundred teenagers and listen to her tell her story of overcoming, her story of victory in the name of Jesus. She was resurrected, from the inside-out, when she invited God to be a part of her journey. And she learned something that will never be taken away from her. She put it best as she spoke to that gymnasium crowd, “I have a Father.”
I’m glad she sent me that message and asked me to come hear what she had to say. It’s funny how the Holy Spirit works. He worked through me to draw her in. And at a time when I needed it, He brought it back around and used her to give me some of the encouragement I needed to fight my own battle. He knows how to bring hope.
I guess as I bring this to a close, there is something I want you to take with you. When He moves your heart today...send the message, speak the word, check on the friend, point that person upward. You just might start a resurrection. And it’s a beautiful thing to watch.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7