A message from Pastor Noe Garcia. To see the video version of this message, please visit lifeway.com/noegarcia.
Several years ago, I found myself in a deep, dark place. It’s probably what you would call the “dark night of the soul.”
I didn’t know what was going on. I felt incredibly lonely. I felt that my prayers weren’t going past the ceiling. It was my first time pastoring a church, and to be honest, it felt like I couldn’t do anything right. I felt like my sermons weren’t up to par. People were leaving the church who weren’t happy with me. I questioned my calling. I questioned if I heard God correctly.
This deep, dark night of the soul took me to a place where I just honestly didn’t care whether I lived or died. I got to the place where I recognized I needed help.
I was afraid to say anything; I didn’t want to tell anybody for several reasons. I didn’t want to be placed in a box, a category, or to be coddled. I didn’t want people to think I couldn’t do this job, and I didn’t want to lose my job. So for a very long time, I didn’t say a thing to anybody but my wife, and I kept pressing through. I prayed, fasted, and asked myself: Is there any sin in my life? Is it physical? Is it spiritual? What is it?
The truth is, I don’t know the answer to that. All I knew is that I was left with my reality of depression, and I kept trying to pastor in the midst of this depression.
Then, this past year, I was hit with something that came out of nowhere. There was so much pressure from the pandemic. There was so much pressure because of the racial tension and about masks or no masks. I will never forget, one night I woke up right around midnight, and I felt like I couldn’t breathe and that my chest was about to explode. Sure enough, I was experiencing something I’d never experienced. I was having a panic attack. I thought, Oh, great! Now on top of depression, I’m dealing with anxiety?
Let me just tell you, it’s been a weird, weird season. I mean, I have literally lost church members that I’ve done weddings for. My character has been assassinated. People left our church by the droves.
But here’s what I know. I know that regardless of how I’m feeling, regardless of when my emotions are high and low (and they’re so inconsistent), I have to lean into the Word of God and its consistency.
Even when my emotions are saying, “He is not here” and “This room is so dark,” the truth is Psalm 27 tells us that He will never leave us or forsake us. I cannot let my emotions dictate the truth, but I have to let the truth dictate my emotions.
Pastors, I know this has been tough. I know that many of you are probably walking through depression and anxiety, and you just feel like throwing in the towel and giving up. But let me remind you of something. Before God called you, in fact before you were in your mother’s womb, God knew what you would walk through. I would give you the same encouragement that Joshua was given: be strong and courageous.
Be strong and courageous. Don’t lean to the left, and don’t lean to the right. Your role during this time, just as God told Joshua, is to stand on the Word of God and to stand boldly. To stand firmly. And to not let culture sway you. Just like God told Joshua, that’s where you’ll find your success.
Depression is real. Anxiety is real. But it doesn’t have the last say in your life. Stand firm. Be encouraged. God has not left you, nor will He.
To hear more encouraging and practical videos from Noe Garcia (as well as learn about his upcoming Bible study and book releases), visit: lifeway.com/noegarcia.