Evangelist Louie Giglio, speaking during the last day of the Hillsong Conference in Sydney Friday, shared about how he was lifted by God's grace from a more than two-month struggle with the physical and emotional symptoms of stress and depression.
"Almost four years ago, I woke up in the middle of the night and I felt like I was dying. I literally thought, 'this is it, my heart is going to blow open and I am going to die right here, right now,'" Giglio said before thousands of people at Allphones Arena and an online audience. "I could not breathe."
For a long time, doctors were unable to properly diagnose the problem, the founder of the highly successful, youth-orientated Passion Conferences said.
"It started a journey for me – the worst part of it lasted about two months – and it was the darkest time of my life … I didn't know what to do and every day was a different symptom, every day was a different manifestation of something … I was going crazy," he explained.
He said there was one particular night, after waking up night after night at 2 a.m. in a "dark cloud" of panic and anxiety that he said a simple prayer, "God, please help me."
Giglio said he then remembered a passage of Scripture that says "God gives songs in the night."
"When you get in the dry and weary land you need to know that there is a God who has a song for that moment, too," he said during his passionate message.
"A little song started bubbling up in my heart. Just four lines: Be still my soul there is a healer. His love is deeper than the sea. His mercy is unfailing. His arms a fortress for the weak," he said. "And then this little phrase, 'I lift my hands to believe again.' I'm thinking that from two o'clock to 4 o'clock that night I sang that song."
Giglio, whose difficult time came during the middle of a church plant and the death of loved ones, said that although things became better for him after his first prayers and singing to God, there were many daily struggles yet to overcome.
He said he eventually did receive help from a doctor, "but it was a weapon of praise that led me out of the valley of the shadow of death.
"It was a weapon of praise that led me out of the darkness and back into the land of the living. It was praise that ripped open that cloud and allowed the light of God's love to shine in and draw me back up into the symphony of all creation," he said.
While talking about God and ministering to others, it is important to maintain a relationship with God, Giglio insisted.
"We do a good job of preaching to others … but there is a time when you have to start preaching the Gospel to yourself," he said.
After giving a visual illustration on the stage of a small plastic figure "under the weight" of a tower of "bricks" representing life's stresses, Giglio encouraged everyone to give their burdens to Christ.
"If any lie has come into your mind to tell you that you are responsible for holding it all together that did not come from God, it came from the enemy and you need to get a weapon in your mouth to begin to combat that voice or you're going to find yourself in a really desperate place," he said.
"It's not Christ and you that is the hope of glory. It's Christ in you that is the hope of glory," he continued. "Jesus name is cornerstone. This is good news for people who feel like the weight of the world is on their shoulders and they may cave-in under the pressure. I will tell you what depression is. Depression is when all of your shame is on top of you, when all of your guilt is on top of you, when all the weight of your business is on top of you, when all the weight of the church and all the people's needs and all the responsibility, and all the losses of the world … when that's all on top of you that's de-press-ing.
"You find yourself getting into addictive behaviors that are all about dealing with the fact that you forgot that God is great," he said. "The weapon in the dark is Jesus and [your] confidence in him."
Other guest speakers at the conference included Joyce Meyer, Steven Furtick, and Joseph Prince. Guest worship leaders included Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman. The Hillsong team is composed of Brian Houston, Bobbie Houston, Joel Houston, Reuben Morgan, Joel A'Bell, and Julia A'Bell.
Hillsong Conference 2012 will be heading to Europe with conferences planned in the Netherlands and Sweden in October.