Depression

Over the last few days, a lot has been said about this subject with the death of actor Robin Williams by suicide. It’s an important subject to shed light on as talking about mental health tends to be one of the last taboos in society, even in Christian circles.  Why is that? Why is an illness of the mind not considered to be as important as an illness of the body? We pray for people to be healed of cancer, of heart disease. Of any other physical disease you can think of that affects members of the population. But we don’t pray for people to be healed of depression.  Why? I think some Christian blogs over the past few days answer that question, most notably Matt  Walsh’s blog. When I read the blog, I flinched and not in a good way. But, of course, I had experienced this before so it was not a surprise.  There are some Christians who don’t believe depression is an illness. They believe that any Christian who is suffering from depression is not praying to God enough, is not relying on God enough, and in some cases, not a true Christian.

That is absolutely not the case! But, before I go any further, I know some of you will say that suicide is a choice. Yes, of course, it is a choice.  It is a choice that is very painful for the ones left behind since they don’t really know…why.  Why the person didn’t reach out for help for their depression. Of course, no one knows what was going on in Robin Williams’ head. But, for the question, why do people not reach out for help, I might be slightly qualified to answer that one.  I have thought about suicide, have thought of how easy it would be not to have to suffer anymore.  And I have been on medication in the past for my depression.  So, why do people not reach out? Well, in some cases, I think they do, but I think they’re also told or left with the impression that what they have said is not important or of value, that what they feel is not a reasonable thing to be upset about. And then, there are some people who don’t reach out, who think the world would be better off without them. I think both groups have an equal chance of going through with the final deed.

What prevents people like this from going through with it?  Because of the focus of this blog, you would be correct in thinking  I would say a relationship with God is important. But, more than that, it is important for Christians who suffer with depression to have a supportive community around them.  To be properly medicated if they need it and most especially not to be told that what they are thinking and feeling is of no consequence.  I know God has not abandoned me, and He has not abandoned other Christians who suffer from depression either.

God’s blessings on you all today!

Vocabulary of Faith

I’ve learned so many words and phrases this past year which have become a part of my vocabulary of faith. Words that I am beginning to truly understand. Words such as peace, the peace that passes all understanding. Divine courage, courage which does not mean fear is absent. It just means you proceed with doing whatever you’re afraid of despite the fear because you know God is there to give you strength. And, living in community. This is the big one. My church has taught me there are groups of Christians out there who are doing what God has called them to do. To love each other, to help each other. Showing grace and not judgment. We are not perfect; we are broken, but we love each other, and that’s what counts. It’s what being a follower of Jesus is all about.

God’s blessings on all of you today!

The Best of Us

July has been a rough month for my family.  Within a week or two of the month starting, my husband was required to start commuting an increased distance to his job. And when you’re asked to start doing something for your job, you’d better be prepared to do it if you want to keep said job. We were talking about this the other day. When he was still commuting to his job locally, he was gone from our home eight and a half hours a day. He lived close enough to work where he could come home for lunch and have a semblance of a life with me and our children in the evenings. Now, he is gone from our home eleven hours a day. This includes a one hour commute each way as well as the actual  eight hours working and the one hour he takes for a lunch break. As you can imagine, when he gets home now, he is tired, and he is not able to spend much time with us, at least during the week, because of that fatigue.

Now, this is not going to be a ‘bash your husband’ post or a ‘bash your husband’s work’ post. I am so grateful he is making this sacrifice for us, and I know he feels guilty we are no longer getting the best of him.  No, this post is going to talk about something different.  When we, as Christians, think about our relationship with God, what is God actually getting from us in terms of said relationship?  I’m not talking about church or doing things at church although that is a part of the relationship. I’m talking about our prayers, the time that we talk to God, and our study of Scripture.  Does God receive the best of us when we are talking to Him?  Does God receive the best of us when we are studying Scripture? Is He our first thought when we get up each day?  Or, do we give Him the last parts of our day when we are tired and before we go to bed?

I’m not going to pretend perfection on this. There have been many times when I have not given my best to God – when my prayers, when my study have just been items to check off a list and go on to something else that I consider vitally important to get done.  But, that is not what God wants from us.  He wants the best of us.  He wants us to rely on Him for counsel, to depend on Him for comfort, and to completely and utterly trust in His goodness.  There are many Scriptures that talk about this. I think I will quote just one of my favorites.

From Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing, and perfect will.”

This is my goal, and I hope yours as well.

God’s blessings on you all today!

Hope

First Corinthians 13 in the Scriptures is known as the love chapter as the love is the main subject. Several verses in this chapter of my Bible are highlighted because they are verses I wish to keep in my heart. Love, however, is not the subject I am covering today. The final verse of the chapter, Verse 13, says this, “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”  I’ve covered love and faith in previous posts so that only leaves hope which I am going to cover today.

There are a few different definitions of hope in the dictionary, but this is the one I feel is most relevant to the discussion.  “A  feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.”

Hope is spoken of many times in the Bible. Here are just a few examples. Romans 8:24 – 25 says, “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”  Second Corinthians 3:12 says, “Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.” And finally back in Romans 5, the first five verses are a combination of faith, hope, and love, and I think an integral part of the Christian faith. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been  poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

So, what does hope have to do with all of this, and what does it mean for the Christian today? Back in the first days of the Christian faith, it was spread by the disciples who had lived with Him, who had walked with Him, and who had seen His resurrection. They had a very powerful testimony because they had actually heard what Jesus had said. Jesus, however, had not given any indication of when He would return so that is where the faith and hope come in. I know you all have things you hope for as do I.  I hope for good things for my children; I hope there’s not a lot of traffic on the road when I go to church tonight; I hope I win the lottery. (just kidding, lol) I say that though to make the point that many of the things we hope for end up not coming true.  But, our hope in Jesus, that is one hope you can always count on.

God’s blessings to you all today!

 

Without Saying a Word

There are times we can be an example for God without saying a word. These examples can be good or bad, and something we, as Christians, need to remember when we are out in public.  So, how can we be an example for God without saying a word? The biggest way to do so would be to have some sort of Christian symbol either on your person, like with a shirt or piece of jewelry or to have it on your car, like a bumper sticker. People tend to have expectations of how Christians should behave, and when they behave according to those expectations, the example for God is a good one.

What about when the symbols seen on a person and the behavior of that same person conflicts? I know there have been times when I’ve displayed behavior that has not been a good example while wearing my cross. That’s never a good thing for a non-Christian to see, and I regret every instance I’ve not been a good example.

In my earlier years, I didn’t understand that Christians weren’t supposed to be perfect. I thought that once saved, we would always behave the way God wanted us to behave.  That is not true, not by a long shot. I know now that we are all sinners saved by grace, and we will make mistakes. Now, it doesn’t mean Christians are allowed to behave however they want. Since we are saved by grace, I believe we need to pay even closer attention to how we are behaving in public, especially when we are wearing Christian symbols. And if we behave badly, we should ask for forgiveness.

Today, God, I ask that you help me be an example for you even when I don’t say a word.

God’s blessings on you all today.

Investing in Other People’s Lives

I was part of an interesting discussion yesterday at church. I’m sure those of you who are Christians probably had interesting discussions as well, but this one was one that led me to my topic for today. It was during Bible class. The purpose of the small groups we had been divided into was to talk about ways we could reach out in Jesus’ name to the community around us.  Some traditional ideas were proposed, and it turns out they were proposed in each group which tells you they had been done many times before. That doesn’t mean anything is wrong with them. It just means they had been done before. I won’t mention all of them, but I think it is important to mention two. One idea was to help the widows and orphans in our church. James 1:27 specifically calls for Christians to do so, and a shepherd in our church had been passionate about this before his death earlier this year. The other was to expand upon a project we had done earlier in the year when we had collected food items for a school where one of the members taught. It was suggested that we collect school supplies since it is almost time for school to start.

Now, let me make one thing clear before I go any further. Both of those ideas as well as the others suggested were great ideas.  An idea, however, was suggested in our group that takes those thoughts one step further.  The idea was to find a family in our church and a family in the community to help on a long-term basis, not just on one specific occasion.  Many times Christians feel like if they collect things at Thanksgiving or at Christmas or when school starts, they have done their duty, done what Jesus has called them to do and retreat back into their churches.

But, that’s not what Jesus has called us to do. He has called us to live in community and help each other. Living in community is not something that happens on a one-time basis. It happens on an ongoing basis. It happens when we establish relationships, when we get our hands dirty with something we might not want to do, when we sacrifice ourselves and become the hands and feet of Jesus. For this is what Jesus did. He sacrificed himself during his earthly ministry, not just by his death on the cross although that was most certainly a sacrifice.  Now, you might ask how He sacrificed himself. I mean, wasn’t He the Son of God? Of course, He was and is. But, He was also totally human. He got tired; He got irritated; He was familiar with the prejudices of the Jewish people. He helped people anyway though. He fed the 5000; He helped the Samaritan woman; and He came to the disciples during the storm.  Many more instances are recorded in Scripture.

Is it possible to do that nowadays though? With the independent spirit that many of us who are Christians have, especially in the United States, it’s hard to knock down the shields we have surrounding us. But, in answer to my question, yes, it is possible. It just takes commitment and purpose.  How do I know it is possible? I know because someone invested and continues to invest themselves in my life.  This person and many others who have formed relationships with me in the past year are precious to me. I hope I bless them as much as they have blessed me, and my prayer is that I strive to be just like them as I do what Jesus has called me to do by investing myself in other people’s lives.

Philippians 1:3-5 says, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now.”

God’s blessings on all of you today!

Faith

Over the last few days, I’ve had several instances where faith was an important thing to have so I thought I would explore it from a Christian perspective. The verses from Scripture that most exemplify faith for me are in Hebrews 11. Verse 1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Here is what Verse 3 says, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what is visible.” Finally, Verse 6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

So, what is faith? Here is the dictionary definition.  “Faith is confidence or trust in a person, thing, deity, view, or in the doctrines or teachings of a religion. It can also be defined as belief that is not based on proof as well as confidence based on some degree of warrant.”

I have heard and read many times how there are some people who cannot have faith in a deity they cannot see.  And that is true.  You cannot see God. But that doesn’t mean those same people don’t have any faith.  They have faith the lights in their homes are going to come on in the morning. They have faith they will be able to make phone calls and access the Internet. They have faith they will be able to access their money in the bank.  And I could go on and on, but you get the point. But, then people would try to make the argument those are things you can see.  I could expound upon that and ask if the person knew those things would all happen each day.  Of course, the answer would be no, because you really don’t know they will happen.

So, if people could have faith in all those other things, they could also have faith in a deity they couldn’t see. They just choose not to.  You see, faith is a choice. It’s not always the easiest choice, and it hasn’t been easy for me this week.  But, the God I believe in is a big God, and I choose to have faith in Him!

God’s blessings on you today!