September 04, 2014

An Unexpected Visit

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There was an unexpected knock on the door one evening. When the front door was open an old friend was standing on the other side.  Once we were all settled in the living room after warm greetings the nature of the visit came to light.

The friend was in need of encouragement.  You see this friend of mine has been battling depression and confessed that recently it has worsened to thoughts of suicide.  This individual is a Christian and loves the Lord but the world and life circumstances have been cruel.  There has been much suffering and grief in this person's life.

It was shared that in recent months the Lord lead my friend to seek professional Christian counseling and to begin mild treatment with medication.  And there have been struggles to remain on the medication too.  The devil has been busy trying to shame my friend by feeding the lie that a person should only need to read the Bible and pray to get over depression.  But this not always where God wants us to stop.

Yes, we should always turn first to the Lord in prayer and the Bible seeking His wisdom.  But there are certain conditions of the physical body that need physical solutions.  Certain things, if not discovered and stopped early, can become dangerous.  Heart attacks, a burst appendix, a severed limb, high blood pressure etc. can all be life threatening. 

In certain cases it is well and good to use the tools, knowledge, and experience of modern science and medicine to aid the body when its in deep distress.  Similarly severe chemical imbalances can be very dangerous to the mind and may require medical intervention.  

I share this because I have known several people who have battled depression and have found help through medication.  When our bodies are suffering our spirit and soul suffers too. This can directly weaken a person's will to live.  And the Bible is full of examples where God addressed the physical needs, sometimes even before the deeper spiritual needs, of people in great suffering.

Besides applauding my friend for taking the initiative to seek help I pointed to examples in the Bible where God comforted mighty Christians who suffered from depression.  The first example God brought to my mind was Elijah.  I have written a post about him and his incredible struggle on my blog a while back.  It is possible to be a strong Christian and have a powerful testimony yet still suffer depression.  

I also pointed to a living day example of someone who suffered tremendous depression and even attempted suicide: Dr. Ravi Zacharias of RZIM.  He is today considered one of the greatest apologists in the world.  Truly his life is phenomenal and he carries with him, besides his incredible intellect, a tender heart.

It is no mistake, from what I have read in scripture and from the testimony of people I have met, many times those who suffer from depression possess a sensitive spirit.  Meaning that these individuals have the ability to feel very deeply the suffering of others. This is a double-edged sword because it can be used very powerfully in God's hands or it can destroy when handed over to the devil.

I reminded my friend of the promise God gives us in Psalm 34:18 which says, " The Lord is  close to the brokenhearted and rescues those who are crushed in spirit."  A tender and sensitive spirit can notice the needs of others more keenly and can be more specific in providing comfort and aid.  This upsets the devil greatly and can make them targets.  These individuals can also be more vulnerable to spiritual warfare and so must be certain to put on the armor of God.  

Another important thing we discussed was how important it is to share with trusted friends and family the anxieties of the heart.  I again applauded my friend for coming, even if unannounced, and seeking comfort and support.  That was the right thing to do.  We prayed and embraced and finally said our goodbyes.

It dawned on me the next day that what happened was exactly how everyone in church should be towards each other.  We should be hospitable and non-judgmental of others.  We should always be ready to encourage and point fellow believers to God.  It is very possible that by being receptive, attentive, and loving that evening the Lord may have used me to save my friend's life.  There were tears and sighs when I spoke of God's love that evening and so I knew the Lord was working a deep healing.

There are times when Jesus will knock on our doors.  Sometimes it is literally, sometimes it is figuratively but always it is with purpose.  May we always be ready and willing to open the door even if it is inconvenient.  The blessings are abundant and life changing.

" When did we see you sick or in prison and come to you? The king will answer and say to them, 
' Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine,
even the least of them, you did it to me.'"
~ Matthew 25: 39, 40  

August 31, 2014

Are You Beautiful?

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Are you beautiful?

Just the other day I was wrestling with this very question.  And even though I do not consider myself ugly, and even though I know what God thinks of me I still wondered. I could see beauty everywhere around me.  I could appreciate the beauty of others and the beauty of nature but I could not see it in myself.

Have you ever been there?  Have you ever wondered if there was anything truly beautiful about you?

As the years go by and friends and relatives marry, do you wonder about your dream of building a family ever coming true?

Do you wonder about your true beauty if your career doesn't pan out or you can't find a job?

If you have ever been abused do you perhaps wonder if it was because there isn't anything beautiful about you?  

For me I was having a normal day.  It was a good day. I felt happy and then, out of nowhere I suddenly felt very sad.  I can't remember if it was a song on the radio or a happy couple I passed by on the street but something shifted my perspective in a moment.  Suddenly I was uncertain.  Suddenly I felt tears stinging my eyes.

I was hyper aware of my single status and every dream and hope, every prayer that has yet been unanswered.  It was so sudden and unexpected, like getting hit in the head by a cement block.

" What is this?"  I wondered.  " I was happy!  What just happened?"  My thoughts recalled Psalm 43:5
" Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad?..."

And I remember wishing in those moments that I had a husband I could turn to who would hold me and tell me that I was beautiful to him and that I was cherished.  I so desperately needed to hear those words.  

And then I remembered the rest of the verse:  "... I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again- my savior and my God." I started to pray and cried to God, sharing my sudden heart-ache and desire.  

God understands our sufferings and searches our hearts. I heard His words in my head and felt them in my heart:  

 " The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
~ Psalm 34:18

I  can't explain what triggered such a powerful mix of emotions that day.  All I can say is that He was with me and heard my cries.  Perhaps He knew someone reading this post would need to know that they are not alone.   

God knows the incredible worth and beauty each of us possess. He doesn't see us as we see ourselves.  Married or not, successful or not, abused or not abused our beauty does not lie in our flesh and all the things that weigh it down.  

No dear friends, our beauty comes from the new life, the new creatures we have already become through the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ.  Are you beautiful?  Yes!  You are beautiful even when you don't feel so.  Our beauty rivals the stars!  We shine with a glory that is hidden from this world.  But one day we will know ourselves as He knows us; perfect, whole, and beautiful.

" For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son,
that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life."
~John 3:16

" Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord."
~Psalm 45:11

" You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you."
~Song of Songs 4:7