Let Me Tell You a Story

I’m going to tell you a story.

Sit tight. Pull up a cozy chair. Curl your hands around a warm cup of coffee.

It was a reserve up in Northern Canada, with 1300 Native Canadians calling it home. Alcoholism was rampant; there was only one way in and one way out, and that was by bush plane. The reserve was about the size of two football stadiums, and each night as people wandered the streets, back and forth, they would toss pebbles onto the tin roof. With a ping they would trickle down the roof and back to the ground below.

A man named Carter Conlon, a pastor in New York City, was called. The men on the other end of the line begged him to come – although they only had enough money to pay for his flights. They asked him to minister here, to speak light into a town filled with darkness.

So he went. And he found himself in his small room, unable to shower – for there was one shower for all of the community – and with a basin filled with murky brown water to wash his face. A bowl sat in the corner for him to use as a toilet.

I don’t know what you would do in that situation. I’d mostly recoil. I’d inspect the mattress and sit in the middle of it, acutely listening for sounds of rodents underneath the bed. I might tear up at the unsanitary water and be appalled that I had put myself in such a situation.

But Mr. Conlon didn’t. Instead, he got down on his knees by the side of his bed and prayed. His prayer, a simple few words, stuns me every time I hear them.

“Lord. Thank you for seeing something in me to bring me to this place.”

Those words always rock me. 

I listen to this sermon that tells this story every season I am in the pit of depression. He talks about what deliverance looks like, and how to understand why God doesn’t always rescue as we hope He will. And he finishes with this story to remind us of one thing.

To thank Him.

To thank God that even in our pit of despair, He has seen something in me to allow me to find myself in this place.

It’s desperately hard. I wish I wasn’t in this place. And I know that God doesn’t desire that either, for He desires not to harm us but to give us a hope and a future (Jer. 29:11).

But He’s seen something in me to walk alongside me through this place. He will always, always, always be glorified in each place we are in. The darkness of depression is no different.

And so every time I hear that story, with quivering lips and tear stained cheeks I whisper my thanks. I thank Him that He will use it. He will be glorified. That He has chosen to use me in this story for Him and that His Light will win.

And in this season of darkness, that truth is no different.