The reflections of a young pastor

Three years ago, a time like this was the most terrible for me. First of all, three months earlier, I had lost my Job as a lecturer in one of the main universities of Kenya. Secondly, my mother was on the sick bed, struggling with cancer in its last stages, and to add on that, my wife had just given birth to our second child. Now, the coming of our child of course was a blessing, but I could not refrain from wondering how on earth would I be able to take care of my young family without being gainfully employed.

I remember spending sleepless nights praying,seeking God’s face and crying to Him to heal my mother. It was not easy, I just could not imagine attending my mother’s burial. The thought of my mother dying was so dreadful to me! How of all people could she? She had been so dear to me, she had been so supportive of us and to add on that I was/am a man of faith! Nevertheless, this thought weighed heavily on my heart and however much I tried, I just could not brush it aside. I kept hoping against hope that God would somehow miraculously heal her.

Then the day came that I was supposed to go see my mother in Mombasa, by then I was living in Eldoret distance apart by some five hundred miles. Even getting the transport to go see my mother had been a struggle! But God intervened and I managed to begin the journey. I left my wife with my only phone so that I could be able to inform her once I had arrived as by then she had lost hers. So the long journey begun, I had missed my bus and had to get a Truck, (these long distance vehicles which transport cargo in East Africa and beyond).

When I was nearing Voi, I decided to call my sister and ask her to give me the details of the hospital bed where my mother was being hospitalized and the like. To which she responded by telling me to just go home and make arrangements later which I saw as reasonable and thus agreed.

On reaching home, I was troubled to see many people gathered, which was to me confusing because our place has always been a quiet home except for special occasions like birthdays and holidays. So I asked my sister what was happening and that is when she explained to me so calmly what had transpired. My mother had passed on in the wee hours of the morning when I was still on transit. That is when it dawned on me! My mother was no more!!! Oh, the grief! Oh, the pain! Oh, the anguish! I cried! I cried!

My mother was no more! My mother was no more! I did not believe it. I quickly arranged with a pastor friend of mine, Pastor Nathan Maina to go see my Mother. He quickly agreed and so off we went to St.Joseph Hospital, Ikanga where the mortuary attendant allowed us to see the body of my mother. There she was, in the cold,unfriendly room of the morgue, lifeless, motionless. I could not imagine it! I held her head and tried to talk to her but she did not respond! I removed the anointing oil from my pocket, anointed her and commanded her to arise and talk to me but to no avail. All my attempts failed miserably, Pastor Maina was looking at me so patiently, I knew he was wondering whether I had gone nuts! But I did not care. I just wanted to hear the voice of my mother, how she would gently call me “Mwakazi”.

I was confused! I was troubled! I felt like God had disappointed me. I felt like He had left me when I needed Him the most. I had loved Him, sacrificed my life for Him, served him faithfully and so willingly but now He had failed me oh so miserably. How could I face people and tell them that God heals? Had He not failed with my mother? How would I be sure that the people I prayed for would be healed? How would I believe God for a miracle? God had failed and I His servant too for that matter!

The days that followed were the most painful for me. We arranged for her burial and she was laid to rest a few days later. After fighting with the denial for some weeks and later accepting what had happened I fell into a depression.


The Onset of Depression

In my previous discourse, I talked about what happened in my life that triggered the depression that attacked my life and was a heavy load about my neck.

A lot of things were happening by then. As I already told you, my mother had passed on and I was struggling to get a descent job to take care of my family. I also had my own personal desires and aspirations that I felt were taking too long to be accomplished. These and a host of other things made me feel like I had had enough and was tired. I was tired of everything and nothing seemed exciting in life at all. I battled with dark and unhealthy thoughts. My days were filled with sorrow, grief and gloom.

Now you may be asking yourself “What is depression”? What does it feel like when someone is depressed? These are frequently asked questions by many and can only be answered by someone who has gone through the ordeal and come out victoriously.

Depression is a feeling, a sickness, a certain foreboding and deposition of  sadness, pessimism about life, thinking that things will never improve, that life will always be gloomy, that circumstances will never change for the better. It is usually accompanied by a tendency towards inactivity, the things that you loved doing in the past, your hobbies, preoccupations and desires are no longer as exciting. One tends to delink himself/herself from friends, loved ones and family alike. Depressed people want to keep to themselves, lock themselves in their rooms and refuse to associate with other people with whom they are living with in the same house and neighbours.You may hear them crying and lamenting in their rooms, sometimes even shouting and screaming. In the extreme cases, depressed people struggle with thoughts of suicide and if not taken care of, they may eventually take their lives.

Depression does not just come, it is often in many cases triggered by a chain of events that take place in an individual’s life. Depression can attack anybody but in many cases it is fierce among the introverts, people who keep to themselves and are always introspective as opposed to the colourful sanguines.

In my case, I began getting depressed when I felt that God had failed me, that He nolonger answers prayers and that my goals in life were not being reached as I fast as I had expected. I compared myself to my peers, as foolish as it may seem, trying to keep up with the Joneses, in the rat race for fame, success and affluence.

Depression comes mainly from looking at things from a worldly perspective. It is seeing things from a limited narrow human view as opposed to a healthy godly perspective. One going through depression feels like a failure, feels like they will never do anything right, feels rejected and unaccepted.

This was not an easy time for me. I thank God for the support of my wife and family members too. Of all people, my wife was the most supportive because she had to live with my moods and experience my negativity on a daily basis. She stood strong through it all, giving me all the necessary emotional support I needed and even helping me cope with the tough times we were going through as a family. I have to say here that it was not easy for her, nor was it easy for anybody who would see me when I was in my worst.

As for me, there were times little things would trigger my mood swings, I became very sensitive, even something very trivial would become a mountain for me. Normal conversations would be impossible, as you would never know when I would just get angry and leave. In my worst, even taking care of myself was arduous. I did not care how I would look like before people. My physical appearance would be shabby and very pathetic to say the least.

I struggled with hypersomnia, a way of escaping the reality life through  excessive sleeping. I thought evil of everyone and everything, it’s just by God’s grace and mercy that I pulled through, because I could now be among those who went to an early grave.

I thank God because, there is one decision we took that helped me during these trying times. When I lost my job and things were tough in Eldoret, I decided to relocate with my family to Coast/ Voi where I would stay at our place as I struggled to get back on my feet. My wife advised me to buy a free-to-air decoder to be watching Christian channels at home. I agreed. This decision was a major turning point in my life because the inspirational messages and uplifting sermons that I heard from Men of God stirred up my heart and gave me hope that things will get better and that God would see me through these tough times. This was very instrumental in my healing because the Word of God is an anchor to our souls. The Word of God can change anybody and any situation.

I started fortifying my life with the Word of God and prayer and my life started taking shape. I developed a new outlook of life and a new resolve. I began realizing that with God all things are possible and that with Him I could be able to change not only myself but even my world.

The Word of God challenged my dark thoughts, my pessimism, my moods and lifted up the depression that wanted to choke my life and destroy me. I began praying and pushing the blanket of darkness away. It was not easy, but I chose not to give up. I knew there was much more in store for me. I wanted to grasp the reason as to why God had chosen me and called me. And with the help of the Holy Spirit the war raged on…

Psalms 119:130
The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.

1 Corinthians 10:13
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.