“You don’t really know who you are until…”

depressionAs I pack up my books, I’ve spent some time thumbing through old favorites. I mentioned this one a day or two ago, and last night I read through some passages I’d marked years ago, in an entirely different season of life. Here’s some encouragement on suffering from Ed Welch’s Depression: Looking Up From the Stubborn Darkness:

Isn’t it true that suffering reveals us? While prosperity allows us to hide, hardships peel off masks we didn’t even know we were wearing. During the better times, we can be happy, unafraid, confident and optimistic, but the lean years reveal the best and the worst in us. Put a dozen relatively like-minded people into the same crisis and you will see a dozen different responses. Some are heroes, others are cowards. Some are leaders, others are followers. Some are optimistic, others despair. Some shake their fist at God, others quietly submit. You don’t really know who you are until you have gone through suffering. We can measure our spiritual growth by the way we behave under pressure.

Throughout history, God has used hardships to reveal people’s hearts, and this unveiling has had a purpose. It is an essential part of the process of change. You have to see what is in your heart before you can set out to change it.

Notice how those who have medicated away their hardships with illegal drugs, alcohol or sex can seem immature. They may look forty-five but they have the character of an adolescent. Find a person who has weathered storms rather than avoided them and you will find someone who is wise.

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