Posts Tagged ‘Depression’

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“When I wish I’d never been born…” – Feb 6

February 6, 2015

“Why did I not die at birth, come out from the womb and expire? Why did the knees receive me? Or why the breasts, that I should nurse? For then I would have lain down and been quiet; I would have slept; then I would have been at rest,…” Job 3:11-13

English: It was a 'dark and stormy night' ... ...

A sleepless mind fills with thoughts from visions of the night. The assault of daily troubles awaits the cover of darkness when conscious defenses teeter upon dreams. Thoughts are brought in stealth. Ears receive the whisper of a powerlessness to remedy what tomorrow holds. Trouble weighs the sleepless mind to suffocating depth in the same feathery pillow meant to comfort.

…man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.  (Job 5:7)

Trapped by troubles, exhaustion breeds dread into a desperate groan for release. Thoughts are conjured in this state of malaise that no stalwart practitioner of manliness will ever confess.

“If only I had never been born…”
“If only I would never awake…”
“If only my heart would fail…”
“If only a vein in my head might burst…”
“If only for a quick act of random violence…”

“If only…then I would be free from all that troubles my soul.”
“If only…then I would have rest.”

fall treeI have never had the troubles of Job. I have never endured the trials that he bore. Yet, I heard the same whispers as he under the cover of darkness within the privacy of my own skull. Maybe, Job and I are alone in our confused search for rest but I doubt that.  I have never admitted to these thoughts because I did not want my loved ones to think that I was suicidal and in need of counseling.

I am not suicidal and neither was Job.

The desire of Job’s lament was not for death. I believe that his thoughts meandered to the loss of existence as the release from the burden of his trial. It is a path that my own mind has meandered.  Thoughts of death are a confused route to achieve an intrinsic desire that few ever identify accurately.

Our souls long for rest.

Rest is what every soul desires when the yoke of a fallen world weighs heavily upon us.  Consider what we truly want when we bear the laden burden of troubles:

When we are in pain … we want rest from hurt.
When loves are gone…we want rest from heart break.
When abandoned …we want rest from loneliness.
When confronted with failure … we want rest from expectations.
When penniless…we want rest from need.
When addicted…we want rest from desire.

In times of great trials, our flesh cries out for this intrinsic desire – rest. We all come to the same desire as Job, whether it is due to great trials or insignificant annoyances. We all want rest. We want enduring, everlasting, rest.

This type of rest comes only to those who are in Christ. Death is only a source of rest to those who will enter into the loving arms of their heavenly Father when their time in this fallen world is over.

Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, for I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  (Matthew 11:28-29)

All of creation groans for the rest that Christ promises to those who come to him. As Children of God, we can know this rest in part, as we continue to walk in the Spirit along our individual paths of sanctification Christ has pioneered for us. We will not experience this perfect rest until we come to our eternal home.

It is in those dark nights, when my soul is laboring and heavily laden that the Spirit himself bears witness with my spirit. The Spirit bears witness with my spirit that I am a child of God and if a child then an heir – an heir of God and fellow heir with Christ. (Romans 8:16-17) The Spirit reminds me that I am His despite my confused thoughts for rest. I don’t want this life to end for a mere escape from trouble; a jump into the abyss.

I just want to go home.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  (Philippians 1:21)

My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.  (Philippians 1:23b)

Like Paul, I just want to be with Christ, which will be far better than anything this world has to offer. My hope is what comes through in those dark nights of indecipherable groaning. It is the inward groaning of a Child of God eagerly awaiting his adoption as son and the redemption of his body. (Romans 8:23)

For in this hope we were saved.  (Romans 8:24)

I believe that it is in those nights when my mind swirls with dark  “If only…” thoughts that the Spirit, who is always with me, steps in and helps me in my weakness.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  (Romans 8:26-27)

It is the Spirit who takes up my improper, inarticulate, longings to pray and intercedes on my behalf. Most of the time, I don’t know what I really need but on some occasions I am sure the Spirit’s intercession has included, “your beloved needs rest.” I imagine that in some cases  my Father’s response to the Spirit was:

Refresh his hope.

Remind him that all things work together for good, for those who are called according to My purpose.

Remind him that no one can separate him from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Open his mind to the reality that if God is for him, who can be against him.

Show him that he is a conqueror through Christ who loves him.

Ask him, who can bring a charge against him, God’s elect.

These thoughts and so many more have come to my mind in response to groaning, “if only…” thoughts. We truly have a great and awesome Helper, who knows what we need and when we need it. He has always been faithful to me and I know that He always will be, even when I get confused and don’t know what I really want – to rest in Christ Jesus.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for sending your Spirit.  Thank you for giving me a hope beyond this world and all its troubles.  Help me to keep my eyes on the Spirit and to walk faithful with you.  Spirit, thank you for interceding for me.  Thank you for giving meaning to my confused groanings.  Thank you for sustaining my soul.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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“TRUSTING GOD WITH MY SANITY” – Nov 9

November 9, 2013

“But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was brought down from his kingly throne, and his glory was taken from him.  He was driven from among the children of mankind, and his mind was made like that of a beast, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys, He was fed grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, until he knew that the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will.  Daniel 5:20-21

Wounded Warrior Project

I was recently watching a commercial for the Wounded Warrior Project.  The warrior they were highlighting had suffered a severe head injury.  Mentally, he is no longer the man his wife married.  He was expending tremendous effort to learn basic motor skills that a few years earlier had taken no thought.

However, the damage to this soldier’s brain has effected more than his ability to control his body.  My heart broke for this family when his wife explained that she now considered her husband among the children she cares for.  Her husband is no longer the decisive, independent, cheerful man that he once was.  His brain injury took more than what he could do.  It took who he had been.

Patrick Hoesly / Foter.com / CC BY

This story stirred within me a hidden fear.  I, like most people, do not relish the thought of a debilitating injury.  However, I have less fear of injuries and diseases that affect the body but don’t damage the mind.  While a person’s body may not function, they remain themselves as long as their mind functions.

I find the loss of my mind a fearful prospect.  Prior to public speaking, I have gotten a twinge of fear about sudden onset of tourette syndrome; what if I drop an f-bomb in the middle of a sermon or started barking during a City Council meeting.  When I can’t remember something common, I will go through a self-diagnosis for Alzheimer’s.  Depression’s thief of emotional balance, freaks me out.

Brain injuries, mental illness, Alzheimer’s, all defile the sanctuary of the mind and change the personality of a person.  I have difficulty separating my mind from my identity.  If my mind becomes lost, does the only person I’ve ever known myself to be, cease to exist?  Am I merely a unique network of synapses whose existence depends upon healthy tissue, proper chemistry, and the timely firing of neurons?

By my mind, I do all things.
By my mind, I know the world around me.
By my mind, I know my wife, children, and all whom I love.
By my mind, I read the scriptures and know my God.
By my mind, the world knows me.

ecstaticist / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

We learn in Daniel that Nebuchadnezzar lost his mind.  Today, he would have been institutionalized rather than being left to eat grass and live exposed.  However, his reduction to beast was not due to random mental illness, an injury, or blood clot.

God took Nebuchadnezzar’s sanity. 

madamepsychosis / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

I do not know the means by which he was deprived of his ability to reason but I know who its author was.  All that Nebuchadnezzar was; his position, wealth, status, intelligence, and personality were in God’s hands.  God took Nebuchadnezzar’s sanity from him so that he would “…know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” (Daniel 4:25)

I don’t know all the why’s behind malfunctioning brains.  I don’t know why age eventually strips everyone of clear thought.  However, I do know that God is in control of all things, including the function of brains.  I do know that God continued to know Nebuchadnezzar even when he did not know himself.

Therefore, I do not need to fear the loss of my mind.

Institut Douglas / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

God knows me.  I am His.  If my sanity leaves me, He has the power to keep me.  He will continue to know me even if the person I was ceases to be recognizable.  I am more than a network of synapses. There is a difference between soul and mind, even if I cannot perceive the difference.  The failure of my mind does not erase my soul.  No matter where suffering afflicts us, God keeps the souls of those who are His and brings them home.

God is great and greatly to be praised.  All that we have, even our sanity, is a gift from him.  All is His.  The Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom He will.  He is a good Father and knows what His children need.  He will take care of His children when they cannot take care of themselves.

Therefore, He can be trusted with all that we are and all that we have, even our sanity.

PRAYER: Lord, I lift up all my brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering through brain injuries and mental illnesses.  I pray that you will make yourself known to their troubled minds.  I pray that you will grant them a peace and understanding beyond the function of their mind.  Father, thank you for my mind.  Thank you for the gift of sanity.  Thank you enabling me to know myself and more importantly to know you.  Forgive me for my pride and fear.  I praise You, my Lord and Savior.  You truly are the most High God and all things are yours.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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“SUMMER HEAT” – August 14

August 14, 2013

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.  He is like a tree planted by water that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”  Jeremiah 17:7-8

Utah desert Mist

Utah desert Mist (Photo credit: Loco Steve)

My personal battle with gophers continues but the media has changed.  The gophers continue to mound the debris of their subterranean creations on the surface of my field.  However, these mounds are no longer heaps of malleable brown clay containing the lingering moisture of a long winter.  The heat of summer has wrung the soil dry.  My field is speckled by tan mounds of wisping dust, dug from earth hardened by months of unrelenting heat.

The sun scorches this field in its natural condition.  Agriculture fruit does not sprout from its soil since irrigation water is beyond the reach of even the most adventurous root.  The green along the ditch banks stands in sole defiance against the brown of August heat.  A canopy of green aligns the irrigation waste ditch running below this waterless field.  Trees have sprung up to the sky and their leaves remain green no matter the number of days whose temperatures eclipse the century mark.

English: Oasis near Ica in Peru

English: Oasis near Ica in Peru (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The heat cannot brown the leaves of these trees.  These trees have sent out their roots beneath the source of sustaining water.  These trees have no reason to fear the bleakness of their surroundings because all that can been seen is not what is ensuring their life.

We all go through dry times.  We all will experience the spiritual bleakness of an August month.  The heat of circumstances can feel as if it were wringing dry the freshness of our soul.  As the spiritual drought comes on, we might have the tendency to panic.  We might become dejected and anxious.  We might allow our eyes to go in search of refreshment to stave off our parched sensibilities.

We have no need to fear when we trust in the Lord.  When we place our trust in the Lord, it is like roots sunk deep under a mighty river.  The refreshing living water that will sustain us through any scorching trial comes through the conduits of trust.  A Child of God can continue to be a productive oasis even in the bleakest of desert because they are not nourished by what is on the surface.  Their trust is in what is unseen.  Their assurance is in things hoped for.

I have walked through many a dry spell.  Those have been discouraging times that I have not enjoyed.  However, there have been lessons for me in each exposure to the intense heat life.

The most important lesson of these trials has been trust.  When I feel a drought coming on, my tendency has been to get anxious.  I don’t like the heat.  I don’t like the discomfort that I know is coming.  I love the freshness of a spiritual spring.  I relish the vitality that comes to me when my surroundings are drenching me with the water of encouragement and joy.  New growth and fruit comes naturally and easy in the spring of my soul.

I then have to put my trust in the promises of God.  Trust in God pumps His living water to a soul being wrung dry from the heat of a dry season.  That is why we are blessed.  We are blessed because through the power of a great and living God we can thrive through any barrenness.  We are blessed because we have a Father in heaven who gives us what we need, when we need it.  He is the one who sustains us when we feel like we are going to shrivel up and blow away.

We just need to continue to trust Him.

PRAYER: Lord, you know how much I dislike dry seasons.  However, I know that I need them.  I know that I need to learn how to trust you more.  I know that I don’t trust you like I should.  Help me to trust you more.  Thank you for all the blessings that flow from trusting in you.  You are so good to me.  You have sustained me through so many droughts.  I know that you will carry me through the dry seasons that are yet to come.  Thank you.  Help me to be fruitful in all seasons.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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“BELIEVING DISTORTED TRUTHS” – June 5

June 5, 2013

“Why do you hide your face and count me as your enemy?”  Job 13:-24

What is truth?  What is divine truth?

Truth is a frustratingly illusive prey.

In one moment, truth is a lifelong possession.
It is infused into our very soul.
The divine is the source of every breath.
Our comfort and security are birthed from its kernel.
Steps of faith easily emanate from our very being.
Life without the sweet friend of truth is beyond imagination.

 In an instance, our sweet friend can seem a theory.
The divine is as foreign as oil is to water.
Breath of the spiritual is a struggle of the drowning.
There is no security in words for the one being crushed.
A lonely numbness consumes all feeling of soles stepping in faith.
The dread of never knowing our sweet friend is terrifying.

 Why is truth illusive?  Why does it seem so real in the morning and so illusionary in the evening?

The difficulty with knowing truth is that its perception is filtered through our fickle mind.  The divine truths of God never change.  It is our lens to the truth in our own hearts that is flawed by our perception of self.  As we vacillate in feelings, our lens on true reality is deformed and distorted.

Storm Clouds

Job had concluded in his pain and loss that God was his enemy.  God was never Job’s enemy.  Job’s feelings had distorted the Truth.  He had viewed his circumstances in despair and erroneously concluded that he was hated when in fact he was dearly loved.

No man is immune to the distorting influence of his own mind rebelling against the desires of a redeemed soul.  We can become convinced of untruths spawned by the twisting power of pain, hurt, disappointment, discouragement, and depression.  These powers cannot touch the character of God.  Our feelings can only effect how we perceive the world around us.

English: Bình Minh biển Cửa Lò

This is why we must know the promises of God.  This is why we must not trust our feelings.  This is why we must learn to preach the gospel to our trouble souls.  It is when the reality of our Lord seems to have slipped from our grasp, that we fix our sight beyond what we actually see.  We are not God’s enemy even when we feel unloved.  We are not abandoned even when we feel utterly alone.  We will feel again even though we are numb.  The light is still burning even when we are groping in the darkness.  Purpose is still in place even though all we feel is meaninglessness.

Cling to the Truth in days of sweetness and in those of bitter despair.

Know God’s promises as a song of praise in the light and a beacon of hope in the darkness.

The promises of our Lord safeguard us from believing the lies of our distorted perceptions.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for not changing.  Thank you for being a firm foundation that I know even when I don’t feel it.  Thank you for giving me all of the promises of your Word.  Lord, give me clear eyes.  Help me to battle my own mind.  Keep me from being driven by my emotions.  Keep me from pursuing the lies of my feelings.  Ground me in Truth.  Bind me to you.  Shackle me to your Word.  Write it upon my heart.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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