I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior as a high school student. Over the years my Christian life has not always progressed evenly, but in retrospect I can see that the Lord has been consistently working in my life. My wife and I can see key points in our lives where God dealt very directly with us and, as a result, we grew in our faith and trust in Him.
Beth and I were married in 1979. Throughout our marriage, she suffered from depression at various times. During our time in Champaign, Illinois, her episodes of depression became more frequent and severe. She was under the care of psychiatrists and psychologists, but the treatments were largely ineffective. After a move in 2003, she sank lower and lower—to the point that she contemplated suicide. We reached a point of utter despair, crying out to God for help. I recall a particular evening in late September 2003 when we were on our knees praying in the family room and I truly surrendered this horrible situation to Him. Instead of asking again for healing, I asked that if it was His will that Beth continue to be gripped by this depression that He give us the ability to live with it.
While I didn’t feel a change at that moment, looking back we can now see how God moved quickly to relieve the burden from us. Within two weeks, I became aware that Beth had planned her suicide and I made the very difficult decision to put her into a psychiatric hospital to protect her life. In retrospect, we can see the hand of God in her life protecting her from harm. I firmly believe that He held Beth in His hand, protecting her from her own suicidal thoughts until I was able to get her help. During a short five-day stay in the hospital, Beth was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and given a highly effective set of medications that have restored stability to her moods and joy to our lives.
When Beth completed her outpatient treatment, she learned that there were no support groups near us for those with bipolar or depression. Over the next few months, we felt the strong leading of God for Beth to start such a group to provide hope and help to others suffering from this difficult disease. Eventually, Beth organized a support group for people with bipolar or depression and their families. In the group, I have found that I can share valuable experience with the families of those suffering from bipolar. In addition, I have much more understanding of students who struggle with depression and bipolar.
In retrospect, we can see how God has allowed us to use our difficult experiences to comfort others with the comfort with which we were comforted by God. We now understand that God had a larger purpose in mind for our suffering—a purpose we could not conceive of at the time. This is the burden that God has asked us to bear and helps us to bear. And through this, He has blessed many others in need of help and comfort.
I am a long way from perfection in my Christian life. I am a flawed person in whom the Lord is slowly working His will. I hope and pray that God will continue to work in me, changing me and helping me to become more like the man He wants me to be.