It Is Okay To Not Be Okay
Recently, as some you may know, I had major heart surgery. While on the operating table, I almost died. This was due to my heart attached itself to the breastbone from scar tissue from bypass heart surgery I had 17 years ago, and in scraping off the heart, the surgeon accidently poked a hole. A nurse had to stick her finger in the hole to keep me from bleeding out and to have time to do blood transfusions.
When that was finally corrected and I was in Intensive Care and then a regular hospital room, I developed other complications like a collapsed lung and my heart going into A fib. Through this ordeal I found myself so down that I was actually in despair. This wasn’t discouragement or even depression, but despair. I was at a point one day that if Jesus came to me and ask what I wanted, I would have said, “take me home.” In other words I would rather die.
This was complete despair, feeling absolutely no hope. If some well meaning Christian would have come to me in that moment saying I needed to confess the Word and to stay positive, I would have taken them with me to heaven.
Once I got through my despair and eventually left the hospital, the Lord began to speak to me about my experience. What I am about to share is what I learned and hopefully will help someone.
The first and most important thing I learned was “IT IS OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY.” This means that what I experienced didn’t make me less a Christian because of how I felt, but that God understands that we can feel bad and hopeless.
I started to do some Biblical research and I discovered that God even thinks it is okay to not be okay. I cite for example Psalm 88.
The Psalm begins with “O Lord, God of my salvation, I have cried out to you day and night. Now hear my prayer; listen to my cry. For my life is full of troubles, and death draws near. I have been dismissed as one who is dead, like a strong man with no strength left…. I am forgotten, cut off from your care.”
On and on the Psalm goes until it concludes with “Your fierce anger has overwhelmed me. Your terrors have cut me off. They swirl around me like floodwaters all day long. They have encircled me completely. You have taken away my companions and loved ones; only darkness remains.”
This is how the Psalm ends. No resolution; no belief that God will come through. This friends is Holy Scripture. This is Scripture as much as “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
What this says to me it is okay to not be okay. So, that is one Psalm, but are there any other passages to back up this point? In 1 Kings 18 and 19 is the story of Elijah challenging the prophets of Baal to a contest as to whose God is the real God. In the story two altars are set up and each side takes a turn calling on their God to come and take the offering. The prophets of Baal go first with nothing happening. Then Elijah calls on Yahweh, his God, and the Lord sends fire from heaven to burn up the sacrifice.
The next day, Jezebel, the queen of Israel, sends Elijah a note that she will find him and kill him. You would think after the events of the day before that Elijah would be full of faith, rebuke the evil queen, and watch God do his thing. But, no. Elijah is so scared that he takes off and runs for over a hundred miles. We pick up the story in 1 Kings 19: 4-8.
“I have had enough Lord, he said. Take my life for I am no better than my ancestors. Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, ‘Get up and eat.’… So he ate and drank and lay down again.” Elijah ate some more. The angel told him that he had a long journey ahead. “So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty night to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God. There he came to a cave where he spent the night.”
Notice no rebuke from God for not having faith. The Lord simply loves him through this time, meets physical needs and sends him off to where eventually He will speak to Elijah.
The second thing I learned is to surround yourself with people who will love you and validate your feelings. Now is not the time to be confessing faith Scriptures, but to simply be loved and accepted.
Finally, after you come out of despair, then you can start to declare statements of faith and hope, because you are ready, once you are through the crisis.
IT IS OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY. Don’t judge yourself too harshly, and be encouraged that if you can accept this concept, then eventually you will get out of despair. Say it with me one more time: IT IS OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY.