Several years ago, Louie Giglio fell into what he refers to as “a hole of depression, darkness, doom, anxiety and panic.” The pastor, writer and speaker—who founded the Passion Movement and planted Passion City Church in Atlanta—wasn’t sure he was ever going to find his way out.
“It really took me down to a place I’ve never been down to in my life before,” he says. “I’m not talking about just a bump in the road, I’m talking about a hole that I didn’t know how to get out of.”
But Giglio did find his way out, and that experience, along with many experiences he heard from his congregation, inspired him to write his new book, The Comeback, which encourages people who have hit rock bottom that God’s big enough to restore their lives.
We talked to Giglio about the book, how actively to wait on God and how to know when you need a comeback.
What would you to say to someone who is at that low point and knows he or she needs a comeback but doesn’t see how that’s going to happen?
Well, every situation is different. Every challenge is different. Some people are facing cancer, a diagnosis, a death of a spouse, a death of a child, depression, some addiction. There’s just all kinds of different stories. I think the main message I would have for anybody that’s in the middle of it is “You’re not alone.”
Darkness has a way of isolating us and insulating us from our community, from light, from truth. When that happens, a lot of people want to stay in bed and pull the covers up. And that’s real, but when we do that, it isolates us from what we really need most. What we need most is hope. So what I would say to anybody who feels like they are at their lowest point, I would just try to continually inspire them with the idea of the resurrection of Jesus. Because if the resurrection is real then that means God’s greater than whatever you’re in.
In a practical sense, what does it look like to lean on God but also not just sit back and expect God to fix everything—to rely on God, but also take steps forward?
Sometimes we think about waiting on God like, “OK, here I am sitting in my waiting place and you’re going to somehow figure all this out and work it out.” But waiting is an active thing. We’re moving in the direction of help or, in some cases, we’re being faithful at the stage of life we’re at where we don’t see that there’s any momentum happening from that, but we just continue to day by day say, “I’m going to do the very best at what God has put in my hands to do today.”
If somebody is struggling with addiction right now and needs a comeback they don’t just sit home and go, “Well, I know one of these days God is going to come through the door and set me free.” You have to unravel whatever has raveled to get to that place. We don’t get into our holes in a day, but once we get into that hole, we want God to get us out of it in an hour. But rarely does He take an hour to get us out of something it took us a year to get into.
You know, Lazarus was healed when Jesus said, “Lazarus come forth,” but it took the community to come and unwrap him from the grave clothes before he could actually walk in the freedom Jesus made available to him. I think that’s just a good template, if you will, for the combination of the supernatural injection of God. But then there’s the practical working out that usually doesn’t happen by ourselves—there’s usually a community involved in that process.
Obviously it’s different for everyone, but are there some common steps of where you begin when you realize you need a comeback?
For me, the first step that really led me out of depression was worship. I think that’s a common component in every single comeback story. And by that I don’t mean some simple “We’ll just sing a song and praise and everything is going to be all right.” It’s really changing the soundtrack of your life from fear to faith.
The way that happens is you take the initiative to put yourself in a soundtrack of worship. You wake up to it, you go to sleep to it, you drive to work to it, you take your walk to it. And you are intentionally turning down the volume of the enemy, which is telling you that you’re a failure and you always will be and nothing’s going to change and God’s against you. You change that soundtrack to the story of faith.
The psalmist said “don’t be downcast oh my soul.” The psalmist did what we do so well over coffee with our friend. Man, we can preach a barn-burning sermon to our friend. We can talk our friend off the ledge, but when it comes to us, we just shoot ourselves down. We have to speak as confidently to ourselves as we do our friends, and worship assists that.
I think other practical steps are, number one, we just have to get to the place where we’re out of options. There has to be the zero point, the “I completely surrender, totally humble myself to God and to other people and the process.” Normally, our friends, our neighbors, our wife, our husband, daughter, mom, dad, sister, brother they usually see that point long before we do. But you can’t bring someone else to that zero point, they have to get there on their own. They have to finally get to that place where they’re saying, “I’m ready to begin again.” And that’s going to look different for every person.
Do you think there’s a way to recognize for yourself before you hit that zero point?
Yes, because God is a good father. He’s going to give us sign posts along the way to say, “Look, you’re getting close to the breakdown point here.”
The problem is, we are unbelievably deficient in taking seriously the warnings God puts in our lives. Sin is way more powerful than we give it credit for. Yes, those of us who are walking in faith relationship with Jesus are redeemed and renewed, but we still have fallen flesh and the capacity to sin.
Sometimes, it kind of takes us crashing against a wall to really come to the end of ourselves. If you see the warning signs today, then I encourage you to fall on your knees and say, “Dear God, have mercy on me. I completely surrender to you today.” And say, “Will you help me take the first tiny step toward where you want me to be?” I do think that’s possible, and I would encourage all of us to do that.
If there were one big thing you hope people walk away thinking and feeling after they read this book, what would it be?
The big takeaway from The Comeback for me would be for people to believe that God is, in fact, writing a story. Everyone who reads this book isn’t going to get a return to what was. Some people reading this have lost loved ones, and the loved ones aren’t coming back. But I want everyone to walk away from this book with the confidence that God is still writing. I think that’s the most powerful miracle of all: We are not at the terminal point of our story. God is still writing our story, and He’s still writing a story for His glory ultimately that will be for our good.
Dargan is a former RELEVANT editor turned freelancer. Find her online at darganthompson.com or follow her extremely random train of thought on Twitter @darganthompson.