Compassion Changed My Life. Thank You, Pastor!
I realize this blog is a little long; but, it’s important to raise our spiritual leader(s) up on a regular basis–by offering prayer and at times showing them some appreciation. In honor of Pastor Appreciation month, I would like to dedicate this blog to those who have given their time to tend their flocks. I know that my pastor’s compassion helped me to change my life. I was sexually abused as a child, and I had a lot of baggage. My pastor helped me to understand how to leave my past abuse behind while becoming more passionate for Christ.
So how can we show our appreciation to our spiritual leaders? Well, most pastors put a significant amount of their time into preparing sermons. I think one of the best ways to give encouragement to them is by being faithful participants in the congregation.
Many pastors pour their heart out, using God’s words, into a sermon to tell us the truth of His grace and love for us. These words spoken, allow us to understand the faith & hope we can have through Him so that we can live and have a passion for Him.
It seems to me that the life of a pastor might be one of the loneliest professions one could pick. It has the makings of a very tough, demanding – and lonely – occupation.
Frustrating? Some of the times, yes. Rewarding? Most times, yes. Spiritually fulfilling? I am most certain yes, and on many different levels.
To spend one’s “everyday” life to further the kingdom of God must be a great profession indeed.
We all have days where nothing seems to go right. Maybe days of immense stress with any number of things that could be contributing to a “bad day.” Maybe you’re having a “season” of bad days.
When that happens, it’s not uncommon for us to talk the situation over with a spouse, family member, friend, or peer. Those conversations can be a great relief. Maybe you might come up with some solutions that you had not considered.
Your pastor has probably had some of those same “bad” days; but, unlike the rest of us, they often don’t have the luxury of a sounding board.
Think about it. Most of us have jobs where we are faced with “performance” appraisals once, maybe twice a year. Pastors are continually being critiqued on a weekly basis. I’m sure there is someone sitting in the pews, on any given Sunday, who is thinking that the sermon could have been better, or that the music wasn’t to their liking, or that the service just wasn’t “good” enough.
It’s almost certain that at least some of the comments will make their way back to them. Who are they going to discuss their concerns with about the fact that no matter what they do…somebody seems to be unhappy?
Then there’s this role of counselor. We often speak to our spiritual leader in confidence. Things said, and seen, can weigh heavily on their heart. All along pondering how to deal with such difficult situations. Yet, where can they go when they are feeling emotionally drained themselves? Where can they go to receive advice about how to handle a particular situation? That could be a whole separate blog; but, at this time I want to share what one of my pastors did for me.
As a child I had been sexually abused by my stepfather from the ages of 7-15…becoming most intense from age 9 and on. I had no idea of how much the abuse really affected me. The following is an excerpt from my site “About Grace Desired”:
“My husband, Sam Hairston, had researched and found a church that taught reformed doctrine. We had been attending Redeemer Presbyterian Church for over a year. I have never been one to stand out at church. I have pretty much been a back row worshiper. I obviously lacked passion for His truth–because there was definitely a lack of knowledge.
As time went on, and due to the good leadership at the church, I began to understand more of the Bible–the truth of His Word. The senior pastor, Tom Gibbs, has a vision and a passion for furthering His kingdom by being compassionate toward His people. The church has a vision and passion as well. Together, the community of the whole church has a passion for wanting to further His kingdom within our city and beyond. For the first time, since I was in high school, I had begun to love a church.
At church it was spoken that the broken (being me) could be energized by the “grace of God”. Week after week, I began to hear that Jesus was for the brokenhearted. Tom preached, and I heard that Jesus could be my champion, and that I could be made new like the “Oaks of Righteousness“. I also heard that God took delight in me. I thought, who me? I am a broken and scarred sinner who is full of shame, guilt, fear, and contempt. How can that possibly be? I was a skeptic!
At the time, Pastor Tom Gibbs, and his wife Tara, believed something else. They had noticed the back row worshiper and her family. I was told that they had prayed for us prior to their time spent with me. I suppose they wanted us to become the front row family.
Anyway, they began to play an integral part in my life. They dedicated much of their time trying to help me see that His grace and love is the reality of my faith & hope; thus, I would learn that I have really received His grace for my past secrets. They helped me to begin to understand that my shame, guilt, fear, along with my contempt, were unnecessary–because Christ took all of that away when He was nailed to the cross. The path was becoming clearer. I was to begin my journey learning that God desired me for who I was…even if I was broken.
I began to realize that God was actually “wining and dining” me. God longed for my attention. I began to feel God’s love, and it was the kind of love that I subconsciously craved for years and did not know it. Many, many months went by, and little did we know that a volcanic eruption (in epic proportion) would follow after the completion of the workbook. It was very painful to recall the memories I had suppressed. I began to have nightmares. I had no idea of the emotions that were surfacing to the top (like the beach ball). These were emotions that I had harbored within my very soul for years.
My “season” of confusion, self-hatred, and fear became too complex… even to the point of a deep despair. I began to become so frustrated that I cut myself a couple of different times. Of course I never really wanted to die; but, that I just wanted to get the horrible shame, guilt, and fear out of my body.
My “season” of emotions turned into “seasons” gone bad; kind of like a really bad reality TV show.
I believe God puts people into our lives for a reason. I definitely believe God brought the Gibbs’ into my life for a reason.”
Sometimes we put our spiritual leaders on pedestals of sorts – and it’s got to be a little lonely up there. We might forget that they’re human beings just like we are. They have strengths, and they have weaknesses, just like us. They get tired. They get frustrated. They need a pat on the back every once in a while, too!
So while Pastor Appreciation Month is a great thing, remember it’s important to support them all year long with prayers and words of encouragement. If last week’s sermon had a particular impact on you, say so. Send your spiritual leader a note of appreciation. You can also support spiritual leaders by becoming more involved with the church.
If we are enthusiastic followers of God, it will mean something to God – and to His ordained servants. I’m thankful that my pastor showed compassion and saw more in me, than I saw in me. He saw that God was not finished with me yet. Through his compassion he helped me to leave my past abuse behind and helped me to become more passionate for Him. Thank you, Pastor!
My prayer for spiritual leaders would be: “May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.” ~Philippians 1:2
In honor of Pastor Appreciation month, I would like to thank the rest of the staff at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in San Antonio, Texas. They are as follows: Tom Gibbs, Senior Pastor; Brandon Eggar, Associate Pastor; Victor Martinez, Assistant Pastor; Michael Novak, RUF Pastor; Brent Watkins, Music Ministry (BTW he also has his own jazz band “South Texas Jazz); Bekah McNeel, Children’s Director; Matt Beham, Youth Director (who has spent countless hours with my kids); Harriet Peavy, Office Administrator; Sarah Gill, Assistant Administrator. I would also like to thank the Elders, Deacons, and Deaconesses for their countless hours of service. There are so many others that play an integral part behind the scenes, and God bless you all for your time and efforts to further His kingdom.
Break Free! Break Free From the Chains!
Many of us understand what bondage feels like. We feel like chains may be wrapped around multiple times constricting us with each action we make. I, personally, want to break free from the chains, and to live a life filled with God’s grace.
I realize that many of us have different battlegrounds; but, the thing we have in common is the overwhelming feeling of being held hostage within our own chains. I often wonder how am I ever going to be released from the chains in my life? These so-called chains that hold me back. Most of the time it’s my own idols holding me hostage; but, on occasion–it’s someone else’s idols holding me hostage…and that’s another blog.
Being aware of my own guilty feelings (from my past sexual abuse), I began to look inward to myself for help, instead of outward toward Him. I have worn many chains since the actual abuses have taken place. I have meticulously layered the chains of guilt, shame, perfectionism, and “pleasing others” around my neck until they have utterly weighed me down. I felt as if I were suffocating me. I was suffocating!
There are times, I have claimed freedom in Christ; only to let my past fears, and sometimes present, sneak in and take control–again. I forget that I’ve been saved by His grace. Instead I seek the wrong kind of hope, and I wait in the dark for help. I tend to put faith in myself. I tend to think that I will be able to break free from the chains on my own rather than putting my hope in God to help me break free from the chains.
I fear I am part of a commonality with other struggling Christians. I don’t always know who I am with Christ, nor do I fully understand what it means to be a child of God. And why not? In Romans it says that the Spirit Himself bore witness with my spirit to be a child of God. Ok, then why don’t I sense the feeling of being that child? Could it be the chains I’m wearing?
Last Sunday my pastor Tom Gibbs said, “We tend to resist being a Christian!” He said, “We have no excuse for knowing the God that we try so hard to suppress. We practice the lies of idolatry by suppressing His truth. Our idolatry is our way of manipulating the world around us. We are committed to our idols when we feel threatened. In essence, we practice a lie; thus, suppressing God even more.”
Tom is right! Instead of looking inward to myself for help in breaking free from the chains; I should be looking to Christ–who has the answer of truth and grace to set me free.
The first step to breaking free from my chains is to resolve my personal and spiritual conflict by genuinely repenting, and then totally submitting myself to God. I should follow the KISS example: Keep It Short & Simple. I need to stop with my self-serving tendencies, and stop hiding behind my mask. I tend to want to masquerade that I’m obedient even when I’m not dependent on His Spirit.
I am thankful that we are taught about the kingdom of God; but, we also need to understand the kingdom of darkness. Satan‘s wickedness lies in Heavenly places. That’s why there is a need for discernment…to be able to know that some things are just lies. Lies that chain us down. Our battle is not against flesh and blood; but, the forces of Satan’s darkness.
We must understand that the battle is for our minds. The battle is whether or not we will believe the lies or will become transformed…made new with Christ. We must understand that God does not lie! God is truth and grace. Satan does lie! He is wicked and full of darkness.
In the Bible, Paul wrote that he was free from bondage. He expressed that he had confidence that his freedom was real. In Corinthians he said that, “I will not be enslaved by anything.” Paul said this following up to those who had been sanctified (saved by His grace) and justified in Christ (because of His death), but were continuing to be held in bondage by their old idols.
Being a good disciple, like Paul, means being a good counselor as well. The two are intermingled. Discipleship counseling is where two or more people meet in the presence of God. Together, they learn how God’s truth and Word can help break them free from the chains of idolatry; thus, being able to conform to the image of God as one begins to learn to walk by faith.
The other day a particular song came to mind by Wilson Phillips. The song was “Hold On”, and some of the lyrics are as follows:
“I know this pain
Why do lock yourself up in these chains?
No one can change your life except for you
Don’t ever let anyone step all over you
Just open your heart and your mind, mmm
Is it really fair to feel this way inside?…
You could sustain
Or are you comfortable with the pain?
You’ve got no one to blame for your unhappiness
You got yourself into your own mess
Lettin’ your worries pass you by
Don’t you think it’s worth your time
To change your mind?
I know that there is pain
But you hold on for one more day and
Break free, break from the chains…”
Tom said another thing that really stuck with me. He said, “We should be humble and faithful disciples of Christ. It’s a matter of the heart so that we are actively doing what God has called us to do.” He said, “Our performance vindicates our dependence on God.”
I realize that my support system does not always include Christ. I had, and have, not cast my anxiety and fears on Christ, and I am anything but dependent upon Him.
My chains have brought me nothing but darkness; but, in my darkness God has helped me to see His Light. I can’t, nor anybody else, set me free. Only Christ can set me. I can’t bind up my broken heart; but, God can. God is my “chain breaker”.
In order for me to break free, I must have a true knowledge that I am a child of God. Where am I going to learn that? From His Words in the Bible. If I really know God, then my behavior will change radically. My biggest deterrent mentally and spiritually is me not understanding His true freedom.
Tom mentioned about John Newton’s analogy… having a good “spectacle for the scripture”. I must delve into His words so that I can have a good relationship with Him. I must focus on Him. I need to begin to live more by faith and begin renewing my mind. Knowing God in terms of “heart matters” will be a sign of maturity; thus, it will help me become a step closer to the freedom in Christ without wearing chains.
Living and growing in Christ may mean I will encounter different and new chains to wear. But, I must remember that I have been made new. I have been called to do what He wants me to do, and that is not to be bound with the chains of fear from my past. Grace is not just about obedience; but learning to be dependent on His Spirit. This kind of obedience can only happen in and through His grace.
“For freedom Christ has set us free; ‘stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery’.”~ Galatians 5:1
This bondage breaking power that Paul talks about is available to me. I’m not really comfortable with the pain I cause for myself, or others. I am the one to blame most of the time. It’s time to make a change, and break free…break free from the chains.
Shalom: A Greater Kind of Peace
Who would like Shalom? <with hand raised high, while saying, “I do. I do.”>
In the Bible, the Hebrew word “Shalom” means peace.
Shalom is no ordinary peace. Shalom is a greater, more complete peace. It is the ultimate peace! My Pastor Tom Gibbs describes Shalom as a “wholeness within all of the world”. I love that thought. A peaceful, wholeness within all the world to share His Light.
The Hebrew word “Shalav” means to be at rest.
To me, Shalom is a greater kind of peace…a peaceful rest that can only come from my Father in Heaven.
As Pastor Tim Keller says, “Shalom is like a fabric that has been interwoven together and is beautiful.” I can picture this beautiful fabric that is quite intricate with lots of details.
I found a needlepoint work of art at Goodwill. Someone had donated it; but inside the mounted frame, and delicately woven into the fabric, was the word Shalom. Someone spent a lot of time working on this beautiful piece of art. BTW, I gave this piece of art to my daughter, Erica Hairston from which the blog “Teach Me To Walk” was written. She has a beautiful peace about her, and I thought she would love it. I had thought of writing about Shalom back in April, and after finding this beautiful piece of art…I felt I had to share these thoughts.
Relationships, like this piece of art, are delicate. We have many pieces of fabric that are interwoven together. Sometimes the fabric becomes unraveled…much like our brokenness within our lives. The fabric then must become “re” woven so that we as Christians will be able to bring about witness for Him.
We all seem to long for Shalom at some point in our lives. We want to live in Shalom and search for it; but, the place has already been created by God. It is called Heaven. Here on Earth there is no lasting place, or city to dwell in; but there is one city that can last (and it has yet to come).
How do we seek this place of Shalom? We have to engage in the practice of loving our neighbor. Love should be our action…after all, it was His action.
I’m the worst at becoming judgmental of others especially when I think they have wronged me. The truth is…I’m not in charge of justice; but, I am in charge of my actions. God is in charge of justice; but, His justice is different from what mine looks like. God’s justice is love…in action. Being able to forgive, be thankful, not moan for what I think I may deserve. Not becoming an “idol” worshiper of my own desires.
I’m reminded of the Christian band Luminate. They have a song called “Shine“. The lyrics go as follows:
“And though it starts with one, There will be a million candles.
There will be millions more, Singing with the tongues of angels.
The Light of Heaven falling down, Spreading love to the darkest places.
I want to strike a match, and watch it bring salvation.
Shine, Love is an action.
Shine, Oh it starts with a passion.
We want to be a heart that’s pure
So all will see that we are Yours…
In order to spread His love, by shining His Light, we may have to meet the needs of others through sacrificial love. We should try to make a difference in other’s lives, besides our own. In fact, we are not our own…we are His. If we don’t love the least of these, then we do not love Him. In the Bible it states, “He who is kind to the poor…loves Me!”
God is for us. He has walked in our shoes. He knows how to identify with us as poor, broken, and oppressed. After all, He was born in a manger, died on a cross, and buried in a tomb. He knows exactly what’s it is like to suffer the consequences of others. I’m reminded daily that my sins pinned Him on the cross. I was one of the many who stood in the crowd and did nothing to show love to my neighbor as he died a heinous death.
By His death on the cross, He has vindicated our sins, and we have been saved by His grace. With such grace, we are able to find Shalom and live the life of Shalav that He has intended for us to live.
God’s justice for us was shown through His love in action. It was His promise of Shalom. He tells us not to worry. He gives us Shalav…a place to rest. In fact, He asks us to rest upon His yoke. It’s not just for me to rest but for all who are weary and burdened. God gives us a peaceful rest, isn’t that awesome! We are to take advantage of that rest, so that we will become better equipped to shine His Light for others to know of His salvation.
Yes, we all get worn out from our daily living, and that’s why we need to take a break. We may need to renew our faith; like the wings of eagles. We must soar with great passion from within ourselves, and the community of the church, to be able to turn this passion into an action.
The good news is that we have been forgiven and there is a future for us…a future in Heaven. We are reminded of this future when we worship with our church community. As a community we become that fabric that has become “re” woven together so that we can become a community of believers that bring about the fruits of His Spirit. We will begin to proclaim the reality that the love we show was His action taken when He died on the cross.
Slowly, we can begin to make a difference…striking His match. The journey He took for us will begin to shine through us, and we will begin to let His Light be seen throughout many dark places.
The whole earth is full of His glory! Let His love be the action that obtains Shalom: a greater kind of peace that dwells within us for the whole earth to see!
Shalom, and may you go in peace by making a difference…by shining His Light in dark places when all other lights go out!
Strength to Carry On
I have been thinking, and trying to pinpoint, on how to express myself on the particular topic of strength. Some kinds of strength are good. After all, it is a reflection of God Himself, and He said this is a good thing. But, I think some strength, if misused, can be hurtful. It does not have to necessarily have to be physical strength (like tackling someone to the ground); it can be as little as a look of disapproval.
Certain strengths have the potential to become an intimidating misuse of power over another person. I think it is important to know, that if gone unnoticed, strength could get out of hand and end up hurting others (like a form of bullying). My disclaimer is that I have taken part, and we probably all have taken part in a misuse of power some time or another. I myself can be rather dominating and/or manipulating. It is a control thing. It’s the power within me thinking that I can fix things on my own…instead of truly turning things over to God. I have finally realized that can become a misuse of power that I frequent.
I think that it is God’s desire for us to use our positive strength to lead our families; like the Sanctus Real song says, “To stand up for them when they can’t”. To be a wall…a somewhat pillar of strength. God’s own characteristics include strength & tenderness; respect & forgiveness through His grace & mercy. Only God can be the true judge of our life.
If we are truly made in God’s image, then we must have a desire to gain those characteristics—to be strong and loving.
There is nothing wrong with being physically strong, if one acts in an appropriate manner. I guess I am trying to say that maybe a better strength to “workout” for–would be the strength that comes from the heart. Reading the Bible, worshiping, taking part in a community are all great ways to strengthen your heart.
Strength looks different for different people. It could be a silent strength, verbal strength, strong- heroic type strength, being protective and gentle for the abused, or even having the strength to be humble.
In Genesis, we find out that Eve was very manipulative. Granted, she probably could not have wrestled Adam into eating the apple; instead, she used her verbal strength and tempted him in this way. Although, Adam had been informed of this particular tree prior to Eve being created; he chose to remain silent, or passive. Adam could have spoken up and said something to warn Eve about not eating from this tree. Eve obviously did not understand the importance of not eating the apple from the tree. She insisted, to Adam, that the serpent was telling the truth…so they ate from the tree, and we know the rest of the story.
Eve using her verbal strength to tempt Adam led to his passiveness…which led to other problems; for instance, violence followed once they began procreating. This violence started between brothers and definitely became a misuse of power and strength. I believe many have seen this kind of power misused at some point in their life. This type of strength does not discriminate!
I also believe that we have the capability to misuse our own strength of power at times. We are all sinners! An extreme misuse of this strong power can be destructive for all involved.
So why do people misuse their power?
Maybe their “good” strength was ignored, or shamed, by someone. Maybe their insecurities lead to their downfall. Maybe wanting the other person to change encouraged manipulation of others…which is a misuse of power.
I am guilty of this sin. My idol of controlling outcomes of others is one of my gross misuses of power.
God was proud of Jesus. He claimed Him as His son, and said He loved Him. Affirmation is really important! Although men and women like different kinds of affirmation, that does not mean to ignore each other because of the differences. We all feel that we don’t measure up. We are all insecure at one time or another—made vulnerable. For some, the vulnerability might come from past abuse; belittling could be happening presently. Finally, some are scared of what the future has in store for them. Will I be made fun of because of my lack of _?_ (fill in your own blank).
Abuse is a type of strength that is blatantly misused. It comes in many forms. It could be words spoken, or not. It could mean being aggressive physically, or passive emotionally (not being protected). It could be getting fired for something that one did not do—maybe simply because you’re too old. It can also come as sexual abuse. This type of abuse can have many levels of abuse: from harsh words spoken to the extreme of being beaten, or even worse things that I don’t really care to mention.
Sometimes rather than being a strong leader, we give in to our fears and insecurities. Sometimes, we are just plain jealous of other’s strengths. I know this all too well. Sometimes, I am more concerned about what people think of me, rather than worrying about how I am alienating God. I also get caught up in wanting something that I really don’t need and may want to coerce someone out of it…or want them to give it to me. It doesn’t have to be a material object; it could be as much as wanting protection, love, and respect.
When a person lashes out physically, or verbally, they feel as if they have some kind of strength (or power); but, in essence, it is not genuine strength. It is hurtful, and it might be considered bullying. Again, this could stem from their own insecurity or weakness.
This is not always true; but, some may have a deep rooted insecurity that they may not even be aware of within themselves. I will say nothing really justifies bullying, or being manipulative of others. It is very hurtful to those that are on the receiving side.
Loving accountability must take place to help achieve the goal of healing from misused strength. This can be done through community; such as with a church, some peers, or a strong group of friends. Loving accountability must also take place to help one not to misuse their “weak” strength. Both types of accountability need love and encouragement.
I will say that pointing out the misuse of power of another will usually not help. Often times, it will make things worse. Learning to love boldly would be most helpful in this situation. Dan Allender uses an example of telling a story/example so that another may see their misuse in character. It’s like a mirror; thus, one could see the reflection of their action. This may allow them to see how they are truly behaving.
The act of “loving boldly” does not always work. One may have a change of the symptom, but not of the heart. To love someone boldly takes some practice. For one thing, the mirror would have to be turned one self first before reflecting the mirror on the other person.
Good strength, or power, can lead to good things. Just look what Christ did for us so that we could live. It took great strength, courage, and forgiveness to be able to do what He did. I could never really fathom what He did at all. It was the greatest heroic act that has ever taken place.
Knowing that there is freedom in Christ, the heart will need to go under a complete restoration. One might begin with being less self-centered. I struggle with this quite often as well with many other idols. I may think that it is all about me. How I am feeling? I may not always take into consideration how the other person may be feeling, or what pain I may be causing to them.
One thing that needs to take place for restoration to occur may be admitting that a change needs to take place…especially in one’s heart. If you can’t admit your weaknesses, it will be almost impossible for restoration to take place. Blaming others will not make a change in the heart.
Now some may say that the other is too sensitive. Of course there may be times when one can be too sensitive. If others continually make others feel that they are too sensitive; then, it’s possible that the weakness of the one pointing out may hurt others.
Now a misuse of power can take place within one self. One can blame them self or have a self loathing of self due to guilt and shame. All of this can lead up to the misuse of power within one self, and will usually get worse.
There will be times that one may tell their self that another person may be the problem, and that the other person needs to get the help. This could be an excuse which seems to cover the true problem…maybe the problem is within them. Literally, the misuse of power can’t be seen by the person abusing it.
Surrendering and/or confessing your misused strength to Christ is essential. It is important to acknowledge what you have done to hurt others, and it is important to ask God for forgiveness; but, it must be sincere.
When talking with another be genuine, and give many details. This allows the other person to know that one is truly sorry. Being humble is good when it’s sincere.
“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (Luke).
Let God love and forgive those that misused strength. His grace and mercy should be all consuming. One must accept the fact that God can use a restored heart to further His Kingdom, despite one’s weaknesses–past or present or even future.
Again, responsibility and accountability should take place. This is one of the first steps to restoration of misused strength. It is not just enough to say sorry; but, to truly understand why. To tell the other that one is sorry, and act upon it, is a great strength. Those that take responsibility will take their consequence and learn from it to become a restored person.
Now understand that restoration may not always occur; but, when one realizes their sinful nature, the process can begin to take place. One must learn to put off “your old self” so that one can “put on the new self. To know that we are created to be like God”. (Ephesians)
God wants to bring true healing; but, it can’t happen without humility. If one continues down the wrong path they might become self-destructive, or may be the root of someone else becoming self-destructive. Being humble does not mean to let others run all over them; but, to just stop misusing the strength that God has given.
One must become totally broken and surrender to Him. God is for the brokenhearted and He will make the heart new. We are sufficient in His grace, and He finds strengths in our weaknesses; thus, we will be given strength to carry on. The kind of strength to carry on restoration due to grace, love, and humility.
“…but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” ~ Isaiah 40:31
We will have the strength to carry on…with the Son, and through the Son. Power will be given to the weak, and make us strong!
Where is My Love? Where is my Hope?
The question arises, how can a “faithful” Christian have such depressed thoughts that they may consider hurting themselves? Even worse, what if they actually take their own life? Could it be an alternative to facing their fears of rejection (broken trust), shame & guilt from some heinous secret, or a feeling of worthlessness and disgrace?
The Bible does say in Romans that we all sin and we all fall short. We are human living in a fallen world. But, knowing that we were sinners, God sent His son to be pinned and die on the cross for our sins. Christ took our desperation and turned into something great to live for.
Granted most people, at least one time in their life, have probably had thoughts of ending it all (suicide). The amount one dwells on suicide, or letting it consume their being, plays an important part in the level of depression one may be experiencing. We live in a valley of shadow and death; but, within that valley there is life.
Christians are definitely not immune to trials. Being a Christian does not solve all problems; but, it does assure one thing—His forgiveness of all our sins. This is great news! Also, a lot of people think that Christians are “exempt” from the worst of these things.
HELLO! So not true! The devil works overtime to put Christians in a head lock that is impossible to get out of…on their own. Look at Job, Paul, and Moses…they were in some “real” messes that they became desperate enough to want to die.
You may be thinking, “What kept those ‘men of the Bible’ from doing the ‘unthinkable’?” It was love for Him! It was hope in Him!
God intends for us to live a life that He desires for us…a life that includes Him. God promised us a life of hope, love, grace, and mercy; but, He never promised a life where bad things would never happen to good people.
The truth is that the more we “live” our lives for Him, and through Him, the more the evil one tries to breakdown the life of His body in us; thus, trying to destroy us. Because God gave us the freedom to choose, the evil one uses it to his advantage. Satan tries to convince that harming each other, or to telling lies to disgrace…is the way of this world. Sadly, many fall for his trap, and cause much pain for others…including myself.
The “world” can have two different meanings: 1) the world (biosphere) we live in, and 2) the struggles that we experience while living in this world. Sadness and depression is a natural part of life. God gave us these emotions (as well as many others) as a way of dealing with the brokenness of the world we live in. It is the degree that we carry these emotions that can be detrimental to self, or others. Sometimes the reactions of our emotions may be due to an early childhood type of abuse; therefore, it is a way of coping. The problem is as adults those same coping mechanisms don’t work the same way as they did with the child.
The key, in overcoming severe depression, is community…with others. Community can be within a group of church members, or within a support group outside of church. Both can be vital in the healing and recovering process of the oppressed and depressed. Research shows that a committed community, to those that are inflicted with brokenness, can become a vital part in the healing process.
We often need help from others to make sense of what is going on within our inner-selves, and to help us break out of patterns of sin and brokenness. Such freedom to discuss our inner-selves with another person creates a bond whose acceptance is not based on performance but on unconditional love.
The devil does not want hope or love to be found. He will do everything in his power to divert the attention from Him to the lies of desperation that make us feel worthless (which pleases him the evil one). He seemingly causes a feeling of overwhelming disgrace that begins abounding in once joyful hearts. Depression can often become more agonizing than physical pain.
The Bible says that people are of great significance because of being made in the image of God—for His glory. We have become adopted into God’s family. We learn that it is not what we’ve done to deserve to be a part of His family; but, what He did for us. Christ’s death is the reason for our acceptance by God. He promises to never let us go.
This “amazing grace” that God has given us should lead to a life of dedication to Him…allowing us to fight the ongoing battle against the world of sins. God uses the trials of our life to help become more aware of Him, and to have a desire to be more like Christ.
God sometimes uses difficult trials to discipline. In the fight against the evil one, hope is vital. We must listen and draw near to Him. We must be encouraged that this is His sign of His love.
We are reminded that we don’t just struggle against our own idols, or sins; but, against “spiritual forces of evil” in the idol “world” of sin. We must learn to put on the full armor of God. We must wear it every day and always. This will provide protection from the devil’s “fiery darts. We also must “pray just to make it through the day”.
We live with many emotions. We live with groaning hearts. We live with rejoicing hearts.
Where is my love? Where is my hope? It lies within my faith knowing that there is a Lord, Jesus Christ, who sanctified me with His loving grace–by dying on the cross.
This is the day that the Lord hath made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it! ~Psalm 188:24