God, My Restorer

“And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten.” Joel 2:25The Holy Bible, King James Version

By Jo Lewis
The Flame Volunteer Writer

As childhoods go, mine was not idyllic. My father, who was gripped by alcoholism and gambling, verbally abused me. My relationship with my mom was also strained. She had to work at least two jobs while we were growing up and had few resources to spare.

I became a Christian at age nineteen. I stumbled upon Joel 2:25 in a devotional, and that promise took root in my heart. It was great reassurance for me because I was so broken. At that time, I had also just recently had my heart broken by the one person I thought loved me, my first boyfriend. Little did I know then the journey of healing that God had in store for me.

Two years later, God brought the man of my dreams into my life. John accepted a short-term missions program in my hometown and started attending my local church. He served his term and returned home. After a year and a half of long-distance courtship, in January of 1998, we were married and I moved halfway around the world from Malaysia to live in America.

A month after we got married, John and I received news that we were going to become parents. Like every new mom, I struggled to find my bearings and was gripped with fear and inadequacy for the title of “Mother.” Not long after Alyssa was born, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, which explained the fatigue and depression that I was experiencing. In the next eleven years, we’d add three more blessings to our family. Every child brought much joy, but also challenges. To make matters worse, every time I’d make a mistake, I’d hear my father’s words in my mind and I felt like a failure. With each new baby I brought home, I would experience bouts of postpartum depression. As I got older and had more children to care for, the postpartum depression became more profound.

In 2009, we welcomed the sweetest baby boy into our family of six. David had a good appetite and would nurse around the clock. As a result, I wasn’t sleeping well. When he was about ten months old, I started experiencing weird symptoms. I thought that it was just my thyroid that needed help, but later on, we found out that my body was at war with itself. I was diagnosed with adrenal failure. A couple months after that, I spiraled into postpartum psychosis. I lost touch with reality and began having delusions. I would lay awake all night hoping that I wouldn’t be alive by morning. I also had irrational guilt about somehow having done something wrong, and I was convinced that my family would be better off without me. For four months, John prayed that I would get better, while I became a recluse and was unable to care for our family. Finally, with the advice of a trusted friend, John made the decision to have me hospitalized.

With the help of medication and counseling, God healed my mind. But He didn’t stop there; with His presence and His love, He also healed my heart. Through this traumatic experience, I learned unconditional love and acceptance. God never abandoned me at my lowest point. I came to the realization that I was fully accepted and loved, not only by God but also by my faithful husband, who was by my side the whole time. They love me not because of what I can or can’t do, but because of who they are. I also learned that failure is an event, not a person. It also cemented the fact that God is faithful. If He didn’t leave us to muddle through this traumatic time by ourselves, we have assurance that no matter what comes our way, He is there to help us through that situation, too. God totally restored our family and I was given a second chance.

I don’t know why God spared my life except that He could use me to bring hope to somebody else who is going through similar situations. Please reach out for help when you need it. You are not alone. You are precious in His sight and fully loved and accepted. If God can heal me, and He did, He can do the same for you. God has truly restored to me the years the locusts have eaten.

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