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Posts Tagged ‘spiritual life’

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.He put a new song in my mouth. Psalm 40_1,3.png

The high-pitched whirring of the car matched the acceleration of my heart, a rapid ta-tunk, ta-tunk, ta-tunk as I pressed the accelerator. Thoughts ricocheted in my mind, rapid-fire like a motorized, ball-pitching machine.

They’d be better off without me.

This hurting wasn’t part of my plan.

I don’t think God knew what He was doing when He gave me life.

The messages repeated again and again as I rounded the edge of a mountain. Temptation rose large, whispering its poison as I imagined what it might feel like to launch off the earth at 13,000 feet.

You can stop it all. Right here. Right now.

2 Corinthians 10:5 joined the panoply of others.

Take every thought captive. Take every thought captive. Take every thought captive.

And God’s word, sharper than a two-edged sword, guided me home. Safe. Settled. Soothed.

Still, depression held on.

Depression. Even the word sounds threatening, doesn’t it? Like so many others I’ve lived it. I’ve walked through depression with friends and family. And I’ve discovered that depression is no respecter of persons.

Age? Irrelevant. Gender? Immaterial. Status? Insignificant. Faith? Unrelated. Time? Inconsequential.

Depression disguises itself as disinterest. Detachment. Despair. It swallows hope in its black, gaping mouth and casts its shadow on even the happiest moments. You feel alone. Alone in the pain. Alone without purpose. Alone without… Click To Tweet

If you aren’t that woman, you know someone who is struggling right now. She may not tell you. She may not share the pain. But, you do know at least one dear soul who–in living with depression feels lifeless inside.

Oh, how the chains of depression drag and pull like a treacherous rip current at low tide. Its power seems overwhelming and the thought of catching a breath grows ever dimmer.

Is there any hope?

Sweet friend, Jesus can shatter the chains of depression. He'll walk through the deep valley with you now--shoulder to shoulder--and lead you to an open space where you inhale deeply of life and laugh in delight. Click To Tweet

In the Bible, our Father provides examples of other people who loved Him and struggled with depression.  Job. David. Solomon. Elijah. Naomi. Most of these people were spiritual giants, yet they experienced hopelessness. They also provide us with insight as we take up our scriptural sledge hammer and prepare to destroy depression.

Depression and Spiritual Warfare

As with Job, depression can be a result of trauma and grief. After all, the enemy knows our vulnerabilities and, while restricted, he seeks to steal, kill and destroy anything of promise in our lives.

Job’s story (Job 1-3; 38-42) teaches us:

  • that the Enemy targets those who love the Lord and live out their faith.
  • God was with Job–even when Job was angry and accusatory.

Depression and the Importance of Community

Naomi’s husband and two sons died, leaving her a penniless, bitter refugee. Still, her daughter-in-law, Ruth, remained a faithful companion.

Naomi’s story teaches us:

  • even when we feel as if God has abandoned us, He remains near.
  • not to isolate ourselves. We all need a ‘Ruth’ to speak words of truth and encouragement.

 

Depression and the Challenge of Ministry

Regardless of our circle of influence, we are vessels through which God’s love is meant to flow. But, ministry–whether to our husband, children, colleagues, or women’s group–is challenging. Elijah was depleted and depressed because his ministry seemed ineffective and there was a price on his head.

Elijah’s story teaches us:

  • we must care for the needs of our body by resting and eating well.
  • that we are never alone. It’s important to seek community and trust in His faithfulness despite circumstances.

Depression and the Importance of Prayer and Thanksgiving

David might have been a man after God’s own heart, but he understood the suffering of betrayal and the heartache of losing a child. Honest and vulnerable, David’s prayers typically end in praise and thanksgiving.

David’s story teaches us:

  • God doesn’t expect us to recite pithy, sanitized prayers. We can be honest about our situation. Honest about how we are feeling. Honest about the pain.
  • praising and thanking God reminds us of the truths we know about His goodness and love.

 

These scriptures provide us with wonderful, encouraging truths. However, depression is a form of illness. If you struggle with depression, you need support and treatment for that sickness just as you would any other. Beyond addressing your spiritual needs, please seek help for your depression in other important ways. Click To Tweet

These include meeting with a counselor or therapist, sharing your struggle with a few trustworthy friends who can pray for and minister to you, caring for your body with a healthy diet and exercise, and possibly considering the use of medication for a time.

If you or someone you know is struggling with self-destructive thoughts as I had been, seek help immediately. Call a hotline or go to the hospital.

The enemy is a great deceiver and he is adept at convincing us life will never get better. He is lying. Jesus came that we might have life and live it abundantly. Click To Tweet

With prayers for peace and holy strength,

Tammy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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And the Rock still stands. Solid. Unmoving. Ever-present.

The base of the purple-tipped mountains blurred softly along the undulating edge of the rising fog like the folds of a heavy curtain lifting ever so slowly to reveal the hardscape of Nature’s beauty.

It was only a glimpse. An impression captured on the way to work when, amidst the rush of traffic, I paused at a red light; the Father revealing a simple truth in the imagery of clouds ascending toward heaven.

Sometimes, in the practicality of living, I forget to remember the beauty around me. The living, pulsing artistry of day and night. Moments shared with friends and family. Memories hewn from joy, tears, loss, and celebration. I even forget to remember God’s beauty.

His faithful deliverance from sharp-edged difficulty. His all-embracing, doubt-replacing goodness when I’d given up on everything but merely surviving the day. His unmatched grace and forgiveness for a woman undone by the past and uncertain of the future.

And the Rock still stands. Solid. Unmoving. Ever-present.

A flash of red captured my attention and I shifted my gaze forward. Cars and vans carrying harried passengers in a rush to the next important place—work, school, daycare—hurtled by and I wondered how many noticed the lavender and pink blush of sun pushing the cold, clingy clouds aside to reveal the immovable, constant presence beneath.

I need reminders to alter my focus—like light that envelopes crimson sediment and brushes lingering vapor aside. Perhaps when I pause, I’ll notice Him being revealed in the unexpected and unplanned. In the movement of everyday ebb and flow. In percolating laughter and sympathetic tears.

It only takes a glimpse to notice Him.

 

Verse for Reflection

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Ps. 46:10

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One mid-September evening is etched indelibly in my mind.  My two preschool aged sons and I were hunched under the stairs in a closet made to accommodate nothing more than a vacuum cleaner and a few jackets.  Trying to forget the swaying of the house, Ben, Connor and I imagined we were pirates tossed about by the fiercest of storms.  “Lower the main sail!” one shouted.  “Aye, aye, cap’n.”  The children, delighted by our game, were momentarily distracted from the real danger screaming outside our front door.  Hurricane Floyd had crossed the threshold from sea to land, poised to lay waste to all of Hampton Roads, Virginia.  “Will these walls protect us tonight?” I wondered.  “Is the foundation solid enough ?”  Only time would tell.

As Christ taught, a house built on shifting sand can’t stand because it lacks a foundation.  In other words, my faith is only as strong as my spiritual foundation.  Without the stability of a solid foundation, I tend to suffer damage and, occasionally, even crumble when surrounded by life’s storms.    Such inattention usually results in my faith requiring a major overhaul.  The foundation needs to be stabilized or renovated.  But, where to begin when my relationships, finances or health are lying in a shambles?

Simply on my knees.

I have to choose to take my eyes off the storm and direct them heavenward.  Otherwise, I begin to doubt God’s love or his reasons for allowing a tempest to crash into my life.  I feel my spiritual foundation begin to crumble and then, like the disciples, my preoccupation with self and fear results in a desperate plea, “Lord, don’t you care if I drown?”  (Mark 4:38 NIV)  But, when I turn the focus away from myself and toward Him, I can look beyond the storm knowing that at his command, the wind and waves will be quieted.

When I meet alone with God and lay my burdens down, I discover a place of shelter and calm—a respite from the tumult.  Doesn’t the promise of such a place encourage your heart?

Scripture for Reflection

“Because he bends down and listens, I will pray as long as I have breath!”   Psalm 116:2

Lord, help me to entrust all of my life to you today knowing that you can quiet my heart even if you don’t quiet the storm.

 

 

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Was peace an illusion?  For years, my haunted heart yearned for its calming balm.  Christ promised His followers, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.   I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27)  But the tears scattered across my people and the anguish twisting my stomach evidenced a complete lack of peace…  How I longed to claim that peace as my own!

I’ve come to understand that, in many ways, peace is something Christ offers but we have to choose it.  His perfect peace is available, but in order to claim it we must lay down our troubles and fears.  It’s as if a beautifully wrapped gift has been placed at our feet–waiting to be unwrapped.  When we clasp today’s worries tightly in our arms–refusing to give them up–it’s impossible to pick up that which we have longed to take hold of.

So…today I’m going to drop the heavy burden at His feet.  Instead, I’m going to trust Him to deal with those worries.  I’m claiming His peace this morning.  Will you, too, dear friend?

Scripture for reflection You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.  (Isaiah 26:3)

Action step Create a list of all of today’s concerns, worries, and burdens.  Give each one in prayer to the Lord and throw the list away.  Meditate on Isaiah 26:3 throughout the day when your peace begins to dwindle.

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