This past Saturday, South Church sisters & guests gathered at the Dobson's home for a generous extension of hospitality during the "Women's Meet and Eat". Elyse and several helpers prepared a beautiful meal and delicious dessert while the fellowship and warmth prepared others to hear Yvonne Welch's message on Overcoming Adversity.
Yvonne shared of her own experience with depression, anxiety, stress, and hope. She spoke of her life reared as a Chrisitan and how God was faithful in answering prayer for a godly husband. But she also talked about how, shortly after her marriage, she became discontent and angry with him. Her disillusioned belief that the Christian life should be easy & pain-free was quickly challenged as God allowed circumstances of adversity to reveal the true state of Yvonne's sinful heart. As she struggled to submit to her husband, to being a mother of four children, and to faithfulness in ministry, depression and anxiety set in. Fear began to govern, and proved a detriment to productivity. At one point, she even checked herself into the hospital, persuaded she was dying. Truth is, Yvonne was dying.
Yvonne's depression and anxiety caused physical exhaustion and a wasting away, but the root of desire to "rule over her husband" in this situation led to the sin of anger and bitterness which then began to give birth to spiritual death. The exposure of our sin is the path for all who come to Christ. Due to our sinful hearts and our need for a Savior, our Shepherd must lead us through dark valleys so He can make us lie down in green pastures, lead us beside quiet waters, refresh our soul, and, for His namesake, guide us along the His path (Psalm 23).
As the Welches sought the Lord in His Word & prayer, God was faithful not only to deliver physical resolve over time but to continue His work of sanctification in Yvonne.
The paradox of coming to Christ is that the deep waters and fiery trials are God's means of grace. Perseverance through suffering leads to character (we are being conformed to the character of Christ), and character leads to hope, and hope in God leads to knowing His love in our hearts. (Romans 5.3-5) And that produces joy!
We are daily dependent on God for the very breath in our lungs, for all of our needs. We can do nothing of ourselves. But an eternal perspective of our Father's sovereign will leads us to ask Him to do the work in our lives we cannot do ourselves. Therein we embrace hardships--not as punishment, but--as privilege of our inheritance and sonship!
This resonates so deep within me, and I sincerely and earnestly pray this for our church! I also pray that more women will join us next time for fellowship as God always personalizes His message to us and unites us in His Spirit.
May the joy of the Lord be our strength as He "bestows a crown of beauty instead of ashes" (Isaiah 61.3) and we one day proclaim,