The dark vortex of despair, what a horrific picture – a deep, dark void that pulls you in when the trial’s of life become too overwhelming. A place of fear, terror, anxiety, stress, and yes, dread. I have been here and even quite recently but YHWH pulled me out and the how is what I want to share with you today.
Eke (my dear husband) read Jonah 2 to me today, it’s quite long so I can’t include it all here but read it before going on as it is really relevant.
“I called out to the Lord, out of my distress,
and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
and you heard my voice.
3 For you cast me into the deep,
into the heart of the seas,
and the flood surrounded me;
all your waves and your billows
passed over me.
4 Then I said, ‘I am driven away
from your sight;
yet I shall again look
upon your holy temple.’ (Jonah 2:2-4)
The Belly of Sheol, the deepest darkest place of death, this is a terrible place to be in – this chapter shows us that yes indeed it is possible for a man/woman of God to experience this – we are not exempt from this emotion. However, what is unique to us is our ability to deal with it.
I said that I had previously experienced this deep dark vortex before, this was around 2009/2010 when I had just received the results of my MRI scan only to be told that there was nothing physically wrong with me. I cannot explain to you the sense of panic and dread that overwhelmed me. As I left the Dr’s office I struggled for clarity and breath. Crying as I relaid the message to Eke, I felt the my breath stick in my chest as a panic attack not experienced in many years rose to the surface.
The feeling of being trapped was so intense I could see it all around me, my mind took the dominance creating an endless black tunnel. I began to choke on self-induced claustrophobia. I went into defense mode (I’m not sure what Freud would call it) but it was definitely a way to protect myself. People say that it’s impossible for us to stop thinking but they are wrong, I did. I stopped thinking and stopped feeling – I was just numb – the black vortex of despair could not reach me as long as I blocked everything out – the future, the present, the past.
I spent two weeks like this, because every time I would think terror and panic overwhelmed me. My mantra became “God, I can’t deal with this, you do it.” In this way I gave my thinking, my decision making, my will over to Him and I found peace. I guess this was when i first really and practically learnt to trust Him and experience the peace and security (shalom) of submission.
As I said, I went through something similar quite recently, the flu triggered off an autoimmune relapse and I took it really hard as I had done very well until then. Now, here I was struggling with the flu, the old symptoms of the illness, a new job that was supposed to be part-time but actually wasn’t and a healing diet which deprived me of ‘real (I mean comfort) food’. I became overwhelmed by everything.
I remember it quite vividly, as I stood cooking in the kitchen I felt the dark vortex of despair swirl my way, its black tentacles trying to draw me in. For a moment I felt the despair, the terror, the panic, the fear, it’s hard not to be afraid when your body wants to do its own thing but something saved me. I saw a light in the tunnel, that light was the truth of YHWH, His Word and my experience and knowledge of Him. I began to hold onto this truth by speaking it over my mind, not out loud, but in my head, and with each word, with each declaration and with each experience recalled the light became brighter and brighter until I resurfaced out of the waters of swirling darkness.
Something which had been forming in my mind began to solidify and I realised that belief and trust are not about ignoring, blocking or avoiding how you feel, it’s about looking it straight in the eye, fully experiencing it, letting it wash over you and then allowing the truth of God’s Word to overpower the darkness. Sometimes you see Believers learning and speaking affirmations out loud but who are still held in the grip of this merciless vortex, it’s because they don’t really believe in what they are saying. When you believe, then that which you are clinging to is able to deliver you.
I am not blaming anyone because developing trust takes time and it is developed through stormy trials like the one I experienced after the MRI scan but it is such experiences which differentiate trust and belief from affirmations learnt in rote fashion . Have you read the rest of Jonah 2 yet?
Eke and I had a fantastic conversation about this, and he reminded me of Psalm 23 ‘though I walk through the valley of the Shadow of Death I will fear no evil’ again the reference to a place of deep darkness. We will definitely go through it but our convictions, beliefs will either help or hinder us. I am also reminded of a scripture that I love again from the Psalms:
Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.
From the end of the earth will I cry unto Thee when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (Psalm 61: 1 – 2)
Are you currently struggling with fear, panic or dread? Don’t bother with an affirmation, does that seem too harsh? What I mean is, try focusing on YHWH God instead, His goodness, His love, His truth, His light until you feel HIM. Then Call out to Him and as you call hold onto Him with your deepest self. You probably won’t feel much of a difference straight away but He will deliver you. If you haven’t read any of my book extracts then please do so as much of it covers dealing with fear and dread. Also here’s a link to another post that I believe will bless you.
I would love to hear your thoughts on dealing with despair in your journey towards healing/fullness of life – please share what has/hasn’t worked for you.
Until next time
Shalom in Messiah, Achama U xxx