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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
This post is going to be short and sweet. When you have the opportunity to be a peacemaker and insert wisdom into chaos, please do so. Use your words to do good and not harm. Don’t be hypocritical and point out how horrid one person’s behavior is and then turn around and engage in the same behavior and see it as righteous.
I see this everyday on social media, television, newspapers and magazines. You can’t name call, demean and bully and it ever be worthy of praise and congratulations. Help to make things better and keep expectations the same for all.
When we are experiencing difficulty everything can look dark and gloomy. Once I was at the airport and the weather was bad. It was early in the morning so it was dark anyway but in addition it was snowing. As I waited for my plane to be de-iced the excitement about my trip began to dim and I felt that it was ruined.
Shortly thereafter our plane took off and started climbing to cruising altitude. Not many minutes later I was above the mass of clouds that made everything on the ground seem bleak. Above those clouds the sun was shining and it was so bright. My hope lifted. This sight has stayed with me for nearly the past six years. It’s a reminder that we can’t let our current circumstances, what we see right in front of us, make us feel like “this is it”. Remember there is always a light that shines for us and that is the light of God. Just like that airplane He can lift us above what we are going through and allow us to see the hope. Our circumstances may not change immediately but thankfully neither does God.
It’s hard to believe that we are less than twenty-three days from Christmas. “What happened to the year?” I ask myself as I am sure many other people have. I mean I can still see in my mind me and my family sitting around the tree in the living room last year opening our gifts. Christmas 2018 seemed so far off and the coming New Year seemed so promising. I have so much time I thought to get back into shape, read the books that I have stacked on my nightstand and make new friends.
Additionally I envisioned my relationships with my siblings and other extended family members growing closer. Surely there would be plenty of opportunities to get together. But the reality is that opportunities aren’t always taken. Life gets in the way and that text, email or telephone call that was planned never comes to fruition. Or worse yet your attempts to reach out are met with rejection. Not that anyone was purposely trying to be mean or hurtful. Just like me life may have gotten in the way.
This Christmas I was hoping to parlay a successful Thanksgiving which saw my brother, his daughters and my sisters come to dinner at my home into a magnificent Christmas celebration. This may not sound like a major feat but it would be for us.
Since everyone seemed to enjoy each other’s company, I decided why not try to do a big get together for Christmas. You know the kind you see on television or in the movies. We could rent an Airbnb home big enough for us all and spend a couple of days together. We would have many fabulous meals and laughs together, exchange gifts and maybe go on an outing or two to see Christmas lights or something else festive like that.
Well it seems neither sister is interested. Why I ask myself and also them. Why wouldn’t you want to have a Hallmark Christmas? What’s wrong? Well maybe there’s nothing wrong. We can’t force others to conform to what we each personally think the holidays should be like after all.
But then I start to think about what is the true meaning of Christmas. Shouldn’t my focus be on the celebration of the birth of Jesus and not on fulfilling my own earthly desires? I felt sad for a short time after my family get together idea was dismissed by my sisters but after I remembered why we celebrate my disappointment dimensioned. I have so much to be thankful and joyous about. After all my Lord and Savior came to earth and took human form in order to give everlasting life. He was the sacrificial lamb. Spending time meditating on this everyday but especially on Christmas and giving thanks should be first and foremost in our hearts and minds. So as we balance human expectations with reality this holiday remember the true reason for the season and take joy and comfort in knowing this.