A/N: This post contains major spoilers on season one of the video game “The Walking Dead”. Also, it contains some of my personal testimony, so…bear with me. My hope is that you’ll get something good out of it. 🙂
Trials stink. They really, really do, but you know, I think they’re worth it. I’d like to tell you why, and I want to shed some light on what to do when you’re fighting to walk through them.
At the end of 2013 and the start of this year, I struggled with depression for about six months. It wasn’t clinical and I was never suicidal, but it was really hard. I would lay on my bed for hours with dark thoughts running through my mind, having no desire to stand up. I had little interest in doing my homework, going to church, being around people…and this sounds weird, but I could feel something like a black hole in my chest. It sucked away at everything and, although I never considered ending my life, I just didn’t feel like living. I didn’t see any reason for it. I was just kind of there, desperate to get out of the cycle and refusing to seek help from Christ.
I now consider those months to have been a trial, one that God put me through for my ultimate good (Rom. 8:28), but I was very different then. I hated God. I hated Him for what I thought was His abandonment. I couldn’t feel Him anymore and I was so angry for that, so I refused to have any contact with Him. I hoped instead that someone other than God would see the phony smile that I wore in public for what it was, but I don’t think anyone but Him ever did. Even still, I wanted nothing to do with Christ.
And, yet, I wanted all of Him. Having been a Christian for almost ten years, I recognized the constant conviction that I felt to resume that contact with God and my need for that. I knew that I needed to get help from a believer I trusted because I saw that I would never get any better on my own. So, I did. I started to get counseling from a minister in my church who has a degree in Christian counseling and, only by the utter grace of Christ, I emerged from that period of depression after many weeks—not unscathed, but definitely refined.
That, I think, is the worth in trials. We are refined as we are tested “in the furnace of affliction” (Is. 48:10) and we can share about God’s grace in our life to others, as I aim to do now, so that Christ receives all the “praise, glory and honor” (1 Pet. 1:6-7).
Anyway, enough about me! I think it’s time that I get to the point that I want to make in this post. What are we supposed to do in the midst of trials? How did I emerge from that dark, binding depression that held me for months? How do we force ourselves to walk through depression, death, loss, humiliation, and everything else that is so, so hard?
Allow me to make one of my traditional references to something nerdy (and I’ll try to be more concise than I was in my last post). In the vast world of entertainment, there are, as far as I know, three primary forms of the popular “The Walking Dead”—the television show, the video game, and the comic books. I’d like to briefly discuss the video game, which, in its first season, tells the story of Lee, Clementine, and the group that fought to survive with them in the wake of a zombie apocalypse.
Here’s some background information:
- Lee is a thirty-seven-year-old man who, at the start of the game, gets into a car accident in a forest.
- Clementine (or Clem for short) is an eight-year-old girl who lives near that forest and whose vacationing parents have left her at home with a babysitter.
- Though being in poor shape after the accident, Lee manages to escape from some zombies by heading to Clem’s house, where he finds Clem and realizes that her babysitter had recently “turned” (into a zombie).
- Lee and Clem soon leave her house to attempt to find her parents in a far away town—Savannah, Georgia. Along the way, they meet several people who travel with them on their way to Savannah.
Okay, that should suffice. Just don’t ask me how the apocalypse started. That was never really explained, but I’m okay with that because the game is otherwise fantastic. It fits very well with our topic, too, because it’s all about a shared trial (a.k.a. trying not to get eaten by zombies) and the many ways the survivors deal with that as they fight to survive together. The game can be pretty dark at times, as some turn to murder, cannibalism, and mental instability, but it is also a story of hope, and a great example of the way that we as Christians can handle trials.
I’ll share two quick ways that the survivors dealt with trials in “The Walking Dead” game. In one instance, a married couple named Kenny and Katjaa discovered that their young son had been bitten by a zombie and would “turn” in the next few hours. I truly can’t imagine how awful it would be to know that your only child would be gone so soon. So, how did they cope? Sadly, Katjaa chose to commit suicide.
Suicide has been a big topic lately, what with the death of Robin Williams, and it is something that has affected my family personally, since my uncle passed away at his own hands last winter. It’s a horrible thing, and I may write about it another day, but I’ll just say this for now—there is another option. We can fight to walk by leaning on Christ.
Lee and Clem are a wonderful example of this. Lee, a man who has never been a father, chose to help Clem find her parents because he recognized that she was alone and needed help. And Clem, a girl who was at first suspicious of Lee, grew to trust, respect, and rely on him as they traveled together. Lee taught Clem how to keep herself alive in a dangerous world—how to shoot, hide, run, and protect herself. He showed her how to make every effort to keep a group together and how to sacrifice for those you care for. At one point, he selflessly sought to rescue her when she had been kidnapped in Savannah, even after he had been bitten and would soon “turn”. Clem would never have survived without Lee, the man who grew to love her as a daughter.
Sound familiar? Does this remind you of the way God rescued, loves, and teaches us? We need God just as Clem needed Lee, and we, like her, have to lean on the support and wisdom of one who is vastly more experienced than us. This is how we can handle the trials in our life. We lean on Jesus, we learn from His example, and we rely on His infinite strength because sometimes, that’s all we can do.
Check out these passages of Scripture.
[Jesus said,] ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’
Matt. 11: 28-30
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
I said it before, and I’ll say it again. It was only by God’s grace that I am no longer struggling with depression. He changed my heart from one of anger and bitterness to one that yearned for Him, not me. It was by His works that I finally came back into His yoke and into His arms, not by mine. He does all the hard work. I’m just here, living for Him and hoping to encourage you.
When you are fighting to walk through trials, climb into the yoke. Find the rest you need in Christ. Climb in, and you will find the strength to keep walking.