This post comes on the heels of yet two more mass shootings over the past weekend as well as countless other single shooting deaths that may or may not have made the news all over the country. When tragedy occurs we all may feel shocked at first and ask the inevitable “Why?”. I know the answer to this question and it’s because we live in a fallen world and until Jesus returns there will continue to be great sin and depravity amongst men.
This is the same answer to the question I have posed for this blog “When will we finally stop splitting hairs when it comes to God’s commands?”. The focus of the shootings and subsequent level of outrage shouldn’t be based on the “Why” of why people were killed i.e. race, religion, ethnicity, political views, ect.. but that these actions go against God’s command of “Thou shall not kill”. That’s what needs to be driven home.
So what can we do as Christians while we wait for Jesus to return? Spread the Gospel as much as you can whenever you can. Show God’s love to others and that there is a better path that we can follow in this life. Whatever is happening now is only temporary and this isn’t our eternal home. Heaven is our eternal home. 1st Peter 1:25 says: “But the word of the Lord remains forever. And that word is the Good News that was preached to you.”
The other day I sitting at a traffic light and over on the other side of the road I saw a woman jogging. She started slowing down and came to a stop and I thought she must be tired. However she wasn’t tired. She was having a seizure. She started shaking and then collapsed face first onto a normally busy roadway. My first thought was I have to help her but at the same time I felt afraid and nervous. I have a history of having panic attacks and worried I would have one then and not be able to provide her assistance.
But I didn’t have a panic attack before or after and it was due to God. Through regular study of the Bible, devotional readings and prayer I have learned that God will help us and give us the strength and courage we need when we need it. I prayed silently and simultaneously while I maneuvered to the other side of the road, dialed 911 and responded to the 911 operator’s questions and directives and relayed those to the other people who had also come to help.
I was able to remain calm and clear headed. I was able to give the address and try to comfort the woman. The EMTs arrived and we were told that we could leave. I went on to my appointment and thanked God that He had helped not only me but prevented the woman from possibly being hit by a car. I prayed that she would be okay. When my mind tried to go to the “What if’s” I told myself the what if didn’t happen and the Lord made it that way.
Scripture says “we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us”. One of many promises that God has kept and will continue to keep.
This morning I woke up anxious and worried about my older son. He’s completing an internship this summer in another state. I had no specific reason for these thoughts. They started to grow so much that I believed I was going to have a panic attack. I called my husband and told him what was happening and asked that he talk to me and help me calm down. This helped but I also did something I don’t typically do which was fall to my knees beside my bed in prayer. I asked God to keep him and my other children safe but also told Him that I believed this was just an attack by Satan on me.
I prayed using Philippians 4:8 (NIV) 8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” I gave thanks to the Lord for being a protector, a shield and a rock to stand upon.
Afterward the anxiety that I was feeling was gone. I felt a calmness come both over and around me. I was at peace. God did this for me. However this incident was also a reminder of why we must “..guard our hearts because everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23). This is significant for me because I started watching too much television again and the barrage of bad news, people arguing and scary shows negatively influenced my mood which led to a weakness which led to Satan being able to launch a sneak attack. I know that I have to be more diligent about this because we reap what we sow.
Spending your time focusing on what is pure and good and true and Godly will result in pure and good and true and Godly outflow in our lives.
As I was driving into work this morning I started thinking why is it so hard to be grateful. In the midst of turmoil do you continue to praise God and be thankful or do you become angry and turn away? I have been working hard to engage in the former but sometimes it is so difficult. What if you have been praying for a long time to be released from whatever stronghold or storm is active in your life but there’s been no change. Or someone you care about deeply receives a dire medical diagnosis and you ask “Why God?” How about if you live in poverty, don’t have health care and can’t feed your children?
This struggle is real. I am getting better but still continue to push myself to stay connected with God always and even in times of sadness or anger reach out to him by reading and studying his Word daily, praying and just talking to Him throughout the day, listening to praise and worship music and attending church to come together with other like minded people corporately. Also talking one to one with other Godly people who have my best interest at heart. Don’t isolate yourself from God because this is when we have a greater risk of falling away.
Also remembering on a daily basis to think of one or two things you are grateful for, saying them out loud and giving praise to God serves as a reminder of what he has done for us in the past and help us remember His promise to continue to do it in the future.
I like to practice yoga and some of the most challenging poses are the ones that require balance. If you try tree pose, which is pictured, you will need to focus in on one point because this helps maintain stability. Looking away will cause you to waver or fall out of the pose.
This is the same thought process we should use when we think about our relationship with Jesus. Matthew 14:28-32 tells what happened to Peter when he once doubted. It reads : 28“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29“Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” 32And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.
When Peter focused on Jesus he was safe but once he turned his attention to the wind he became afraid and started to sink. We do the same thing when we become focused on the stressors or problems we have and don’t trust Jesus to help us to walk through them with courage and strength. We turn our eyes and try to rely on other people, food, alcohol or a host of other supposed fixes that will make the situation worst. However we are so blessed to have a Savior who will still be there for us if we do take our eyes off of him. He will lift us back up and steady us.
A few ways to keep your focus on Jesus is to make sure that you connect with God’s word daily, study it, meditate on it and apply it in your daily life. If you have difficulty understanding how to apply what you have read get a bible that provides explanations. Also there are many versions of the Bible that make scripture easier to read and comprehend.
Connect with other believers who you can talk to about your struggles honestly and who will offer godly wisdom and guidance and that you can trust. Attend a church whose principles are biblically based. Regular personal study of scripture will help you to determine what is biblical and what is not.
Keeping your eyes honed on Jesus will keep you from falling as we persevere in this life to reach his promised glory.
This is a post from the website of a dear friend of mine and her daughter. It speaks to how mental health concerns can impact our lives. Unfortunately it isn’t talked about very much especially in Christian circles. However I would like to see this change. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and needs to be treated just like any other medical condition. You will find information on how to contact the writers at the end of their post. I hope that it’s helpful to you.
dear friend, are you sad? let’s talk.
If there’s an image that perfectly captures the onslaught of a depressive episode, it’s the Battle of Helms Deep from the Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings.) Peering through the gloom and driving rain, there are terrifying enemies as far as the eye can see. You feel hopeless, outnumbered, defeated. Bottomless fear. “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” – CS Lewis
Depression feels like fear. When I’m depressed, I fear being around people, because I’ll have to act normal, and I know I can’t do it. I fear my feelings, because they’re telling me that I am worthless, my whole life is a lie, and I have let everyone down. I fear how helpless I am against the encroaching darkness.
When you fall into a deep depression, life doesn’t make sense any more. Depression says: “You will not find meaning in what you’re doing.” There is no longer a larger story. The ground collapses beneath you and you realize your house was built on sand.
Friends and family may offer helpful suggestions like “you need to read your Bible more, prayer more, serve more. Snap out of it and stop thinking about yourself so much.”
It’s like telling someone who is in a hurricane they need to open their umbrella, or telling someone who fell in a deep hole “you’ve got to pull yourself out.”
People don’t mean to be unkind. They’re trying to be helpful. I, who know so well what it is like to be held fast in the claws of depression, have given that same advice – “pray more, read your bible, think positive, get outside, be grateful.” Because I forgot how helpless you feel when you’re depressed.
“If you really want to help someone who is struggling with depression or anxiety, learn to listen with intention…the simple act of just listening will greatly help someone on their journey to find healing.” – Dr. Caroline Leaf
Nobody wants to be depressed. No one chooses to become depressed or stay depressed. Depression is complicated to diagnose and treat because it has elements of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual malaise. This is key: take action when you’re feeling okay. If you are prone to depression, or have noticed a recurring cycle, whether it is seasonal affective disorder or triggered by something else, you need to do something about it when you are feeling normal. When you’re up, you tell yourself “that’s not going to happen to me again. That was just a phase.” So you don’t do anything to prevent the inevitable recurrence.
Then when the hammer of depression inevitably falls, it’s too late. You’re so sandbagged by feelings of worthlessness and despair, that you can’t do anything, and nothing makes sense.
You may need medication, and there is absolutely no shame in that. Please see your doctor or a mental health professional and get a diagnosis. This is your survival we’re talking about. But there are other important things you can do to both stave off depression, and alleviate it if it happens.
1 Talk to somebody – “A burden shared is a burden halved.” This is hard, because when you’re deeply depressed, you feel like no one cares about you. But it is essential. Talk to somebody you trust, who you know won’t judge you or give you advice, but just listen. Talk to someone before you get depressed. You can find many wonderful counselors on Psychology Today.
2: Self care – put on your oxygen mask before you try to help anyone else. A healthy regimen can make depressive episodes (especially S.A.D.) less likely, and can lessen the severity of episodes. To the best of your ability, keep eating healthy and hydrating. Do some nice things for yourself, like watching your favorite movies or getting a pedicure. Prayer can be really hard, but even if you just cry out to God, “help me!” that is enough. Martin Luther was so depressed all he could do is pray “I am yours Jesus, save me!”
3 Get outside – get some sun in your eyeballs. Better still, take a walk. The simple act of walking and connecting with nature will revive your brain and your spirit, and help you regain equilibrium.
4 Maybe the most important thing you can do: acknowledge that everything is not about you. This will be a blow to your pride; but it’s also a huge relief to recognize that you don’t hold the world on your shoulders. Figure out what you are really and truly responsible for, and let everything else go.
Like I said, I’m not going to tell you to read your Bible more. But there is comfort for the depressed in the pages of scripture. Start with Psalm 130:
A song of ascents.
Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning,
More than watchmen wait for the morning
Do you have any suggestions for those of us who go through seasonal depression? We would love to hear from you. Or if there is any way we can pray for you, please email email@example.com or connect with us on social media.
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We are all in this together. God loves you and so do we.
Marie and Kathleen, Your Kaikaina Sisters
Matthew 7: 3-5 reads “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see more clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
This scripture came to my mind as I was thinking about the recent controversy surrounding a young man who was in Washington, DC for the annual March for Life and has ended up as a nationwide and possibly worldwide symbol of hate and bigotry. A few seconds of a video that went viral shows him smirking and supposedly mocking a Native American man playing a drum who was standing in front of him. The boy in question was also wearing a red MAGA (Make America Great Again) hat. This young man has had to deal with the obligatory onslaught of condemnation and in some cases threats from a variety of celebrities, media personalities and everyday people who want to show that this type of behavior is unacceptable and it won’t be tolerated.
Now fast forward and we now know there was more to the video then meets the eye. The video didn’t initially show a group of men yelling at him and his classmates. Their verbal assault started because they were wearing the MAGA hats which some have now labeled a symbol of hatred and oppression. Opponents of the boys have equated their treatment to that of young black men who have been stereotyped as thugs for wearing hoodies.
The point I want to make is that behaving in the same way as those who you believe have oppressed or are oppressing you makes you no better than them. The person who thinks wearing a MAGA hat makes you racist is no different then the person who calls the police on a black boy wearing a hoodie because they think he’s a thug. The same fears and prejudice are being espoused.
Now I can’t say what is in anyone’s heart but a truth to live by is if you don’t want someone to judge you based on how you look or dress you shouldn’t do it to others. We are all distinct and should be treated that way. Let God’s mercy and grace be guides for us as we navigate through this temporary life on our way to eternity with Him.