When You Feel Like A Mess

by | Apr 27, 2019 | Depression and Faith | 4 comments

How did your day start?

I hope it began better than my day did on Wednesday, April 24. When I arrived at my office at Columbia International University, I plopped down on the couch and muttered, “My life is a mess!”

Due to a succession of sleep-deprived nights, I felt like a zombie. Though I’m told my recovery from knee replacement is on target, that morning the knee throbbed like a toothache on steroids. Complementing the physical discomforts, I was feeling threatened by my upcoming retirement from CIU. Will I receive enough speaking and writing opportunities to provide the necessary part-time income I’ll need? Without a class to teach, will I be as motivated to get up in the morning? Will my depression worsen due to a lack of structure in my daily schedule?

I also lamented where I was (or wasn’t) spiritually. My times of unhurried, heartfelt prayer, as well as the habit of delving into God’s Word for soul food, had declined in recent weeks. Oh, I could blame it on the physical pain and sleeplessness stemming from the surgery, but that would be dishonest. The fact is, being sidelined physically for weeks had given me more than the usual time to spend with the Lord. If I couldn’t get my spiritual act together by age 69, would it ever happen?

It is so much easier to teach and to write on faith than it is to trust God in the crucible of life’s experiences.

Then, out of the blue, I heard the inaudible but distinct voice of the Holy Spirit whisper, “Terry, I do My best work with messes!”

That’s when a parade of uninvited guests crashed my pity party. Verse after verse from God’s Word, ones I had memorized years ago, bubbled up in my head. Every verse amounted to a command or invitation to take my uncertainties, worries, and weaknesses to the Lord.  Many of them contained promises as well. I was prostrate on the couch by the time these verses scrolled across the marquee of my mind:

*”Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness. You have relieved me in my distress. Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer” (Psalm 4:1).

*”Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, and He will do it” (Psalm 37:4-5).

*”Call on Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me” (Psalm 50:15).

*”Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you” (Psalm 55:22).

*”Trust in the Lord at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us” (Psalm 62:8).

*Concerning the person who trusts Him, God said, “He will call upon Me, and I will answer Him; I will be with Him in trouble, I will rescue him, and honor him” (Psalm 91:15).

“On the day I called, You did answer me; You made me bold with strength in my soul” (Psalm 138:3).

*”Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near” (Isaiah 55:6).

*”‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me, and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart'” (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

*”Call to Me, and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3).

*”Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, 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 shall find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

*”Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

*”Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxieties upon Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).

Instead of pouting, doubting, and fretting, the Holy Spirit who inspired these verses nudged me to heed them by voicing my needs in prayer. So I sat up on the couch and started praying, resulting in the most meaningful round of prayer I’d had in quite a while.

I’m glad that the Word of God teems with invitations and commands to appeal to the Lord in prayer. There’s always a need for praise and thanksgiving, too. Yet I must never hesitate to make appeals to Him when I’m feeling like a mess. Asking is not a lower form of prayer on the spiritual totem pole, it is just a different type of approach than praise. To think that once I mature in the Lord, the need to ask Him for help will dissipate, and all I will do is praise Him, is a false spirituality.

God’s Word assumes that I (and you!) will always be needy, and human  experience verifies that fact. When I ask Him for help, I am obeying His Word, and I am giving Him a grand opportunity to accomplish something in a weak, needy vessel such as myself. His intervention on my behalf gives Him more glory, for I know, and those who know me best can see, that He has done something in and for me that only He could do.

The next time you feel like a mess, remember the One who delights in cleaning up messes.



Please note: comments are closed after two weeks. You are welcome to contact me directly after that time if you would like to share your thoughts.


  1. Thank you Terry. I hold to God’s hand and he holds mine. Some days are tough but he is always there to greet me with open arms.

  2. Thank you for your bravery as you speak of depression. I have suffered from depression for decades. Finally at 62, I’ve accepted it. I’m not so afraid of it. It accompanies my physical body, but some day I will be released, when the Lord calls me home. I confess I’ve become much more isolated. I hope some day to find a church. God bless you!
    I always look forward to reading your letters. I don’t feel so alone.

  3. Hello Terry,

    Thank you for this post, Terry. I’m going to put those verses on some business card sized cards so I can have them with me – and on my phone too. ?

    You may have some troubles, after retiring, with feeling motivated to get up in the morning and, yes, you may feel worse for not having an externally enforced schedule to follow – it can be a challenge to stick to a schedule when you mostly just have yourself to answer to and not an employer. I’ll keep you in prayer that all will go as smoothly as possible and that you’ll get ample speaking engagements and writing requests to bring in a nice part time income.

    I’ve struggled with depression most of my life and I’ve been going through a very rough time with depression, anxiety and grieving for 2½ to 3 years now – and I’m having a terrible battle with my spiritual life as well. For the most part I am emotionally numb; some good experiences and “up” times, but mostly little to no passion, love or joy for much of anything. The Holy Spirit is helping me but nothing holds, usually not even a full day before I’m back in the dumps. I’m great with negative emotions, got lots of those and they’re very active (go figure) but numb with positive ones. I have to force myself to read my Bible and prayer is difficult too. I feel most close to the Lord when I’m singing Christian songs and hymns.

    My husband is a former pastor who had always felt called to teach at a Christian college or seminary but ended up making some poor academic choices (he has two theology geared masters degrees [Gordon-Conwell and the former North American Baptist Seminary now Sioux Falls Seminary] and a DMin. in spiritual formation [Bethel Seminary, St. Paul, MN]) . He should have gone for a PhD. – didn’t – and was never able to get into teaching. All he could get was pastoring at little churches in the Free Methodist denomination that he took not so much because he felt called to pastor but because at least he’d be using his seminary education. Though he did feel he finally found his theological home in the Wesleyan Holiness tradition and we now attend a small Nazarene church. Currently he works full time at Walmart. Both of us have been struggling emotionally for a while now. We even live in a town that is depressed and struggling and has an oppressive feel to it, which I’m sure isn’t helping us.

    Please pray for us, Bruce and Sandy.

    When I signed up to follow your blog, I never got the chapters of your book or the study sessions you’re offering and I can’t re-sign up for them now. Might you be able to send those to me? I’m very interested in reading the chapters in particular. If they encourage and help, I’ll buy the book. ?

    Hugs and God bless you,
    Sandy Richardson

    p.s. My email has a different name because it’s my “author” email and Pearl R. Meaker is my pen name. I have written, and
    published, three cozy mysteries that I recently rebranded as The Can Be Mysteries.
    Again, thank you.

  4. Thanks, Terry, for this post. It met a need of mine today. “My life is a mess” — wow, how true it seems for me many days ! Thank you for sharing, and thank you for these Scriptures, many of which have been friends of mine over the years. I will remember to pray for the book project on Dr. Smith. I had not been aware of the accident you mentioned he was in some years ago. I look forward to reading more, and I will pray for you in this work. Thanks again for your ministry to me and to my family over the years.


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