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We all have a story of pain and spending time in the valley of discouragement. Mine is a story of deep depression that lasted nearly a decade.

For many years, I was a depressed Christian. I loved the Lord dearly and even knew that I was going to heaven when I died. However, I was unable to discover the joy of His presence on earth. I felt removed from hope and peace. The black hole of depression was my constant companion and my ugly friend.

This depression was birthed in a battle with infertility. I sent five babies to heaven, all of whom had only lived in my womb between 12 and 20 weeks. Each conception was a miracle and each interruption was a crashing and heartbreaking devastation.

My hormones were out of control, my hopes were dashed and my arms were empty. And worst of all, my heart was broken. The depression was pervasive and all-consuming.

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Although I had already given birth to two delightful, precocious, lively little boys, I knew that I had been created to be the mother of more. Motherhood was my destiny and my calling. Why was it all so difficult?

During those frighteningly hopeless days, I also developed an addiction. Now, the addiction that I developed is probably not the type of addiction of which you might be thinking! My addiction was not bound to over-the-counter drugs, in a bottle filled with an alcoholic substance nor was it attached to binge eating.

While I was depressed and reeling from the pain of dashed hopes, unanswered prayers and a body that was betraying me, I became addicted to the Word of God.

During the days of emotional blackness, the Bible became a source of joy and light. During long nights of hopelessness, the Word of God spoke promises and purpose. During months of discouragement, the Bible was a voice of encouragement and blessing.

My arms were still empty but my heart was full. My prayers were as yet unanswered but I was falling in love with Him, Jesus my Savior, over and over again. I would choose to walk through the valley of infertility and disappointment again in order to become the defiantly joyful woman that I am today.

The Word of God is a miraculous healing drug and is also a wise and faithful counselor. The very words found in the Bible are powerful vitamins of the very best kind! A daily injection of joy may be just what the Great Physician has ordered for your life.

"You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand" (Ps. 16:11, NIV).

The joy is found wherever He is. He is in every sunrise and sunset. His presence is visible in the first flowers of spring and in the glorious leaves of fall. His voice is heard in the symphony of worship and in the giggle of a baby.

He is there in the humdrum of daily life when the dishes are piled high, the laundry is mountainous and the bills never end. He is there in unending days of loneliness and in the piles of tissues by your bed.

When I am being overtaken by the deceit of my emotions, what I really need is more of Him. When my joy begins to fade and is replaced by loneliness or depression, I am gently reminded by the Holy Spirit, "Carol, if you are lacking joy, guess who moved?"

All the joy I will ever need this side of heaven is found in hanging out with Him. It is found when I relentlessly choose more of Him and less of me; it is found when I understand the value of intimacy with the lover of my soul. If you need joy to be more practical than poetic, perhaps these suggestions will propel you toward the possibility of joy:

- Choose a Scripture that has the word "joy" in it and memorize it.

- Sing a favorite worship song.

- Whisper a prayer for someone other than yourself.

- Read your Bible for at least five minutes every day.

- Invite some friends into your home to pray.

Joy is a strenuous discipline that only the desperate are brave enough to choose. We must choose His presence in spite of the world that roars around us.

The joy of His presence is guaranteed to fill you to overflowing and will give you the miraculous gift of abundant life.

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Dr. Mark Rutland's

National Institute of Christian Leadership (NICL)

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