My previously close and supportive family relationships were strained almost to the point of breaking. I knew in my head that the risk of illness from germs was better than the torment I was putting myself and my loved ones through, but I couldn’t escape the obsession. Nothing helped and things were so bad my family was almost considering bringing me to the mental hospital.
After being put on a medication, I slowly pulled out of it. Today I am more aware of germs than I was previously, but I am no longer controlled by them. I know I’m blessed to have had anxiety for such a short time—many people struggle with it their whole lives.
I look back on that time as the worst in my life. Hopefully it will remain so. There’s something truly horrible about loosing every bit of your self worth and about a loss of control over your own self. Yet it’s even dark times like that which God refers to in the verse, “In all things, give thanks.” (1 Thes 5:18)
How do I give thanks for a time so damaging to myself and my family? Is that the type of trial James talks about when it says to “count it all joy”? (James 1:2)
I think it is. It’s not that we should be glad for the horrible times, but we can have joy because God has promised that “all things work together for His good, for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” (Rom 8:28)
A few years ago, we discovered that my young niece also has anxiety issues. We believe she has Asperger’s and possibly OCD. I think my family is far better equipped to be able to handle and understand her reactions and behaviors, because of what they’ve been through with me.
God can and does bring good out of even the worst and most hopeless of times. Whatever that valley is for you, hold onto the knowledge that God will still use you—and specifically that experience—to bring glory to Himself and to help others.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4 NIV)On the other side of that experience I am even more thankful and aware of the blessing it is to find joy in life. I pray that each of you can also experience the fullness of joy we find in living for Christ our Savior.