Tag Archives: depression

He Restores My Soul

Survival

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt. Not sure how to participate? Here are the steps to get started. (Prompt idea by Biola ‘Leye.)


In response to today’s Daily Prompt, I’m simply going to share yesterday’s post, which is the best example of my current survival story.  Because of God’s grace, I’m not only a survivor, He has made me an overcomer!


Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23:3-4  NASB

For the last four years, I was in a dark and heavy place, and though I still breathed, I was dead.  You see, I was in the valley of the shadow of death, and in all truth, it was so overwhelming, that I gave up.  In the depths of my pain, both physical, emotional and spiritual, I fell down in that dark and deadly valley, and I had no will to get up and begin walking through it.  I just didn’t have the strength.  I thought my life was over, and what a horrible way to leave this world.  My faith was shaken, my heart and my body were broken, and so, I spent almost four years, sitting in my recliner and feeling sorry for myself.

Meanwhile, the dark valley of the shadow of death just got darker and darker, until the darkness was so thick and oppressive, that I was overwhelmed by fear and hopelessness.  My physical pain was so great, that I took multiple pain medicines, all prescribed by my doctors, and instead of lessening my pain, they only helped me to sleep through the last four years.  My mental and emotional state was so fractured, that I needed anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications to stop the pain inside my heart.  The problem with this was that these meds only helped me to stop caring.  They stopped the strong emotions that all of us were born feeling.  The sad thing is, though the anti-depressants were supposed to stop those painful feelings, in truth, they stopped my feelings of life and joy and hope, while the pain never completely subsided.

teen-prescription-drug-abuse

And then, two weeks ago today, I stopped taking all of my medication – cold turkey.  Hear me, beloved, this is not the smartest way to stop taking addictive pain medications and anti-depressants, unless the Lord leads you to do so.  The Lord led me to do this, and I went through withdrawal, but amazingly, it wasn’t as bad as I was afraid it might be.  I had headaches, diarrhea, hot flashes, chills, nausea, and extreme weakness.  I cried when I read, cried when someone spoke to me, cried when no one spoke to me.  I just cried, and cried a lot.  And yet, despite these side-effects, life began to stir within me.  I was feeling.  I was alive.  My emotions had awakened, and even more important, my spirit awakened.

As for the chronic back pain that I have suffered with, for the last four years, it’s not that much worse without the pain meds.  Indeed, I now realize that they weren’t helping my pain at all.  If anything, they caused a whole different kind of pain, on top of what I was already suffering, and now that I’m no longer going through withdrawal (thanks be to God!), I find that while living with chronic pain can be devastating, living with deadened feelings and the emotional pain that comes from that, is infinitely worse.

I share all of this, not because I want sympathy or pity, but because I want to testify about what God has done to me.  I was dead, although I continued to breathe.  I could no longer hear the voice of the Lord through the fog that surrounded me, and consequentially, I lost hope.  I lost my joy, and those who have worshiped with me in the past, know that God has given me a wonderful spirit of joy.  Indeed, the joy of the Lord was my strength, and when I lost that joy, my strength ebbed away.

After leading me to stop taking all of my medications (yes, every single one of them!), something amazing happened, in the midst of going through withdrawal, and feeling pretty rough, some of the thoughts that have tormented me for the last four years returned to me.  In the last four years, I had to stop leading prison ministry, which I loved doing… I lost my job, because I was no longer able to work due to the pain… My husband and I became impoverished (no exaggeration)… My mother died, and a month later, my daughter and her family moved over 700 miles away… My daughter-in-law went through brain surgery, and she and her husband moved nearly 325 miles away… I had no ministry… I lost my family…

Suddenly, for the first time in four years, I heard the voice of the Lord, clearly – not through a dark foggy tunnel.  “Cheryl, My beloved, I have given you all of your heart’s desires.  You never dreamed of a career.  All you ever wanted was to get married and have children, so that you would finally have a family who loves you.  I gave you a husband who has loved you and treasured you for more than 35 years.  I gave you two children, who married, blessing  you with two more children, and they love you and treasure you.  Even though you came from a small family, you always wanted a big family.  I’ve given you 10 grandchildren.  You have that big family, and though they are far from you now, they are closer to you than many, whose children live near them.  Yes, you have chronic back and leg pain, but you are loved by your family.  More importantly, child, you are loved by Me, and that’s why I have given you your heart’s desires.  You are no longer able to minister in prison, but your ministry has not ended.  It has changed.  Now you minister by writing according to My will.  Even though you have suffered, My Son suffered more, for your sake.  Even though you were impoverished, I still moved on the hearts of others, to give you a home to live in, and food to eat.  Beloved daughter, your future is secure.”

As I heard those words so clearly, the withdrawal symptoms and my physical pain became tolerable.  I suddenly realized how blessed I am, and I repented and asked the Lord to forgive me for not appreciating all that He’s done for me.  And then, in the midst of going through withdrawal, I began to praise Him for giving me my heart’s desires.

Then, last night, I read a post about an upcoming evening worship service, and the Spirit within me leapt for joy.  You see, in the last four years, I’ve only been to corporate worship services a handful of times, because Sunday mornings are so difficult for me.  Arising early in the morning has been impossible for me, because the pain is always worst in the mornings, and when you stop attending worship services, you lose contact with the friends you had made over the years, because their lives have moved in different directions than yours.  Also, I felt lowly in the sight of faithful church attenders, because I was no longer able to attend regularly, and I was sure they were judging me as one who was lost.  Indeed, some did judge me, but certainly not everyone, as I had thought, in the midst of my depression.

Also, there were a small handful of people, who genuinely loved me, even while I was in such a dark place.  Many people have lots of friends, but I never have.  However, the few friends that I do have, are priceless.  Those friends sought me out, when I had shut myself away.  They prayed for me, and encouraged me, even when they were unable to visit me.  Two friends in particular stand out to me, my beloved friend Tammy, who would talk to me and encourage me on Facebook, and my beloved friend Laura, who lives with chronic pain as well.  Yet despite her chronic pain, Laura has gone out of her way to visit me, pray for me, listen to me and love me, even when I was unlovable.  You see, God didn’t give me a bunch of friends.  Instead, He chose to give me just a few exceptional friends that I truly treasure.  I remember, during my depression, thinking that if I died, no one would come to my funeral, and be there for my husband, and perhaps there won’t be, but God will be there for him, if anything ever happens to me, and really, how many people have the kind of friends that I do?  Many simply have a lot of acquaintances.  I am blessed.

You see, the demons from hell may have thought that I was down for the count.  I thought so, but that’s because I had been blinded to the great power of the God who loves me and created me.  You see, He has always pursued me with His love, and He will always continue to do so.

Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
    forever.

Psalm 23:6  NLT

The most wonderful thing to happen to me these last two weeks is the realization that came to me last night, as I was rejoicing over the upcoming worship service I’m attending.  For, the Lord has restored my soul.  I can feel, love and rejoice again.  I have hope in the God who has loved me, when no one else did.  I have hope in this God who has healed me from so many other problems, and now He has once again healed me and delivered  me from prescription drug addiction and a four year bout with the darkest depression imaginable.  Hallelujah, I am alive again.  He has restored my soul!  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23:3-4  NASB

I have shared this testimony for two reasons.  First of all, I share this testimony to give others hope.  For if God would deliver me from living in darkness and death, He will surely do the same for you as well, if you will allow Him to.  You must simply obey His voice.  In my case, He commanded that I stop taking all drugs, and He made it unbearable for me to continue taking them, despite what the doctors said.  I don’t know what He will command you to do, but whatever He commands, do it!  Then, watch Him restore your soul!

The second reason I have shared this testimony is very simple.  I share my testimony for my sake and for the sake of others who read it as well.   There is still a devil who wants to steal from me, kill me and destroy me.  Indeed, he very nearly did, except for the unfailing love of the Father, who loves me.  He wants to do the same to you.  Therefore, there is only one way to overcome him, and that is by the blood of the Lamb, which has already been shed on my behalf, and by the word of my testimony.  You see, in the face of Jesus’ blood, and my testimony of Christ’s salvation and the goodness of God, the enemy is overcome!  He is defeated.

10 Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens,

“It has come at last—
    salvation and power
and the Kingdom of our God,
    and the authority of His Christ.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters
    has been thrown down to earth—
the one who accuses them
    before our God day and night.
11 And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb
    and by their testimony.
And they did not love their lives so much
    that they were afraid to die.

Revelation 12:10-11  NLT

Beloved reader, whether you are dealing with the same or different issues, be encouraged.  The God who unfailingly loves me, loves you just as much as He loves me, and He wants to heal and deliver you from the dark hole that you may find yourself in.  Simply cry out to Him in Jesus’ name, listen for His command – then obey Him!  Fear not!

13 But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. 14 The Lord Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

Exodus 14:13-14  NLT

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Hurt? Overwhelmed? Fearful? Angry?

Do your problems seem insurmountable?  Does it seem like you have a mountain of debt?  You’re all alone?  Nothing’s going right?  Nothing will ever work out in your favor?  Then I have a word for you!

Depressed

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
    for the Lord has anointed me
    to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
    and to proclaim that captives will be released
    and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
    that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
    and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.

Isaiah 61:1-2  NLT

depression1600x1200

The Lord has given me a word to share with all who are feeling depressed, overwhelmed, lonely, hurt, grieving and angry.  This is a word for those who have given up.  It’s a word for those whose problems have become impossible.  Let those who have an ear, hear what the Spirit says.

The God I serve is holy and just.  He is not a God who can’t hear. The answer to your problems is closer than you think…

11 “This command I am giving you today is not too difficult for you, and it is not beyond your reach. 12 It is not kept in heaven, so distant that you must ask, ‘Who will go up to heaven and bring it down so we can hear it and obey?’ 13 It is not kept beyond the sea, so far away that you must ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to bring it to us so we can hear it and obey?’14 No, the message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart so that you can obey it.

Deuteronomy 30:11-14  NLT

Your problems are not insurmountable.  They are not as big as you imagine.  Beloved children, the monster in your closet is only a shadow, and though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, fear not, for the Lord is with you.  His rod and His staff will comfort you.

For just as Peter lost his focus when he walked on water, so you have lost perspective with your problems.  The winds that night were fierce, stirring the waves up into a terrible froth, as their caps battered the boat the disciples were in.  Yet, when Peter saw Jesus walking on water toward him, he forgot all about the violence of the winds and the waves. He only had eyes for His Lord and Savior, who was calmly walking on top of the raging sea, coming to them…

28 Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29 And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

Matthew 14:28-29  NLT

Think about it.  The storm was impossible.  The waves were high as they crashed into the boat, and the wind blew against them, battering their bodies and the boat.  And while the wind blew the stinging needles of the salt water against their skin and their faces, Peter noticed none of it when he saw Jesus walking to them on the water.  Indeed the wind and the waves were nothing to him in that instant, as he shouted across the water to Jesus.

28 Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”

Matthew 14:28  NLT

Then, when Jesus told him to “Come,” Peter leaped out of the boat, and immediately walked on the water towards his beloved Savior.  You see, in that moment, his focus was sharp, and his perspective was clear.  For nothing is impossible with God.  Peter knew that, perhaps better than anyone else, for he did what no man has before or since he and the Savior walked on water.  Indeed, he was really doing it, until, for some reason, he took his eyes off of Jesus, and looked around, noticing, for perhaps the first time, since he had started his great adventure, that the wind and the waves were really whipping against him.

30 But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Matthew 14:30  NLT

Can I tell you something, beloved?  The wind didn’t just suddenly start in that instant, when Peter first noticed it.  It had been blowing all along.  The other disciples were already aware of this, and they were scared, which is why none of them cried out to Jesus to command them to come.  Yet, though the wind was beating against him, Peter took no note of it, as long as he was focused on Jesus.  Beloved reader, have you been like the rest of the disciples, focusing on the wind and the waves?  Or are you like Peter, focusing on Christ instead?

We are all human, and sometimes our  problems seem to loom so largely against us, yet, it is in these most difficult times that we must look away from the problem, and look to Jesus, the answer to all of our problems.  Let’s look at the seraphim, who circle the throne of God day in and day out, 24/7…

It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of His robe filled the Temple. Attending Him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. They were calling out to each other,

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies!
    The whole earth is filled with His glory!”

Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke.

Isaiah 6:1-4  NLT

Throne Room by Pat Marvenko Smith
Throne Room
by Pat Marvenko Smith

These seraphim continuously cry out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies!  The whole earth is filled with His glory!”  What leads them to cry out like this continuously?  They never stop calling out to one another about God’s holiness, no matter what else goes on at the throne of God…


One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them.“Where have you come from?” the Lord asked Satan.

Satan answered the Lord, “I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on.”

Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed My servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.”

Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God.10 You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! 11 But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!”

12 “All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence.

Job 1:6-12  NLT

Now, we all know that Satan is the devil himself.  We know that he’s a liar, and the father of lies.  We know that he comes to steal from us, to kill us and destroy us.  We know that it is this terrible beast, who is behind all of mankind’s troubles.  We know that this old serpent lied to our forefathers, and deceived them into giving up their dominion over the earth.  We know that he has led many men to do horrible things to one another.  We also know that at one time, he was a big deal in heaven, until he rebelled against God, and led 1/3 of heaven’s angels in the rebellion against the Almighty.  We also know that Satan is constantly appearing before God’s throne, accusing us day and night…

… For the accuser of our brothers and sisters
    has been thrown down to earth—
    the one who accuses them
    before our God day and night.

Revelation 12:10b

So, what do we do about it?  Let’s look and see how the seraphim, those creatures who encircle God’s throne respond, when our accuser appears before the throne…


In front of the throne was a shiny sea of glass, sparkling like crystal.

In the center and around the throne were four living beings, each covered with eyes, front and back. The first of these living beings was like a lion; the second was like an ox; the third had a human face; and the fourth was like an eagle in flight. Each of these living beings had six wings, and their wings were covered all over with eyes, inside and out. Day after day and night after night they keep on saying,  

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty—     the one who always was, who is, and who is still to     come.”

Revelation 4:6-8  NLT


Day after day, and night after night, the keep saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty…”  When their enemy and ours approach God’s throne, they don’t even notice him, though they have numerous eyes, because to them, he is nothing in the light of God, and all of their eyes are fixed on Him alone.  And beloved, it isn’t just the seraphim that have things in perspective.  The 24 elders do as well…


Whenever the living beings give glory and honor and thanks to the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever), 10 the twenty-four elders fall down and worship the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever). And they lay their crowns before the throne and say, 

11 “You are worthy, O Lord our God,
        to receive glory and honor and power.
        For You created all things, 
        and they exist because You created what You                pleased.” 

Revelation 4:9-11  NLT


Beloved, I know we are at war.  I know how the enemy is trying to tear you down, because his demons have been tormenting me as well, with pain, fear, poverty and depression, but the time has come for us to stand.  We must remember that we are not alone in this battle, no matter how lonely we are.


So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.

10 In His kindness God called you to share in His eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation.11 All power to Him forever! Amen.

1 Peter 5:8-11  NLT


Beloved, humble yourself under the mighty hand of God.  Cast all your cares on Him, because He cares for you!!!  Beloved, the word of the Lord for all of us is to refocus.  We must stop focusing on our insurmountable problems, (for with God, all things are possible, even those things we think are impossible…) and look to Christ.


Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all His glory.

Colossians 3:1-3  NLT


16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18  NLT


Finally, beloved brothers and sisters, as we stop focusing on our impossible problems, and gaze upon the author and finisher of our faith, it is important to remember how we overcome the accuser of the brethren, the enemy of our soul…


10 Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens,

“It has come at last—
    salvation and power
and the Kingdom of our God,
    and the authority of His Christ.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters
    has been thrown down to earth—
the one who accuses them
    before our God day and night.
11 And they have defeated him by the blood of the           Lamb
    and by their testimony.
    And they did not love their lives so much
    that they were afraid to die.

Revelation 12:10-11  NLT


© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Victory in Jesus

Victory-In-Lord-Jesus-Christ-impending-doom-8956674-1024-768

17 Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.  

(James 4:17 NLT)

I haven’t written anything in months and months.  Actually, it’s been more than a year since I’ve written anything.  I’ve been dealing with pain and medication issues, sleep depravation, and depression, so to tell the truth, I just haven’t felt like writing, and the few times I started to write something, I fell asleep.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t spent a lot of time reading or studying God’s word.  Truth be told, I haven’t spent much time with Him either.  So, when I saw something that reminded me of the scripture above, I felt motivated to do something good.  Therefore, even as I write this, another scripture comes to mind, and I am sure the Lord is speaking to me, yet when I just now turned to that scripture, so I could paste it here, I backed up so I could read the scripture in its context, and again, I can hear the Lord patiently speaking to my heart…

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

(Philippians 4:4-9  NLT)

I’m in the midst of a spiritual battle, which has been raging against me and wreaking havoc in my life for three and a half years, and the truth is, at some point, not too far into this battle, I gave up.  Unlike Paul, the apostle of Christ, I stopped fighting the good fight.  And I deceived myself into believing I couldn’t do anything about it, because I can’t do the things I used to do.  Yet now, as I write, I again hear the Lord’s voice whispering to me…

10 Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens,

“It has come at last—
Salvation and power
And the Kingdom of our God,
And the authority of His Christ.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters
Has been thrown down to earth—
The one who accuses them
Before our God day and night.
11 And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb
And by their testimony.
And they did not love their lives so much
That they were afraid to die.

I sense the Lord urging me to share my testimony of the last few years, that led me to my current state.  I feel Him pressing me to once again, place the belt of truth around my waist as I wear the rest of God’s armor and carry the sword of the Spirit.  So, please, bear with me, as I take you back approximately three and a half years.

I had been in constant pain for more than a year.  My back hurt so bad, that it felt as though it would snap in two, yet I struggled to hold on to my job, because neither my husband or I are rich, but it was getting more and more difficult to go to work.  I can remember praying as I walked across the employee parking lot to the building, “Please Lord, help me take just one more step.  Oh God, help me to make it to the building.  Lord Jesus, please help me.”  The pain was excruciating, but it didn’t end once I was in the building.  Then, I had to pray for Him to help me walk down to the basement and to the time clock.  Then, once I punched in, I prayed for the Lord to help me walk all the way down the long hall to my office.  It was horrible, and it got to the point that I started writing my time down and having someone initial it, so I could have my co-worker in the office, who did payroll along with me, manually enter my time into the system when I clocked in and out.  The pain got so bad, that I would avoid going to the bathroom, which was just next door to my office, until I absolutely had to go, because it hurt so bad to walk.  Then, at lunchtime, my co-worker would go and get my lunch for me, so I could remain sitting.  Of course, sitting at the desk all day caused another kind of pain, but it was certainly more tolerable than standing or walking.

My mother, who lived in the nursing home, where I was employed, lived two extremely long corridors down from my office, and my pain was so terrible, that I stopped visiting her as often, and when I did, I waited until I got off, and made the long walk to my car, then drove around to see her.  I came to regret that I didn’t visit her more often, but in all honesty, I was struggling just to make it through the day, and by the time I got off, I was in too much pain, and I was just too exhausted to visit her.

I wasn’t sleeping at night either, because the pain kept me awake. Therefore, my husband had to drive me to work the last few months, because I was in so much pain, and I was so worn out, that I was afraid of falling asleep at the wheel.  I started missing more and more time, and at the end of August, my boss told me I’d better file for FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act), or I was in danger of losing my job, so, I filed for intermittent FMLA.  However, when my boss and the HR (Human Resources) department saw my many diagnoses and my prognosis, they told me that I didn’t qualify for intermittent FMLA.  Instead, I would have to go out on a full FMLA, and I couldn’t return to work, until my doctor signed a release stating that I was now able to work full-time.  Both the company and I knew that I wouldn’t be returning, and so, August 31, 2012 was the last day I worked.

I was also a prison minister, and at the beginning of January, 2013, I had to resign, because I was unable to sit or stand long enough to minister to the inmates.  Also, I was feeling too defeated to to minister the gospel of hope to the inmates.  It broke my heart when I had to stop ministering in jail, and I began to dip into depression.

Then, my mother became ill, and had to be admitted to the hospital.  It was extremely difficult to see how sick my mother was, but I went to see her during the day, and the long walk to the elevator, and then to her room was nearly more than I could bear.  Sometimes, when my husband came with me, he would get a wheelchair and push me to her room.  However, he had a job, so he couldn’t always come.  My sister worked, and because I was now not working, I wanted to help her and stay overnight at the hospital with Mom, so she wouldn’t have to, but my pain was so bad that I just couldn’t stay every night.  I did stay a few times, but the pain was horrid.

At that time, I was taking massive doses of pain medication, which made it hard for me to even function, and although I was taking hardcore pain killers, they weren’t killing the pain, which continued to increase.  From April of 2011 until sometime in 2014, not a day  went by that I wasn’t in pain, and it was wearing me down.

On top of that, my sister and I were having issues.  I’m sad to say, we’ve always had a difficult relationship.  I love her with all my heart, and I think she loves me, but we’re two different people, or maybe we’re both an awful lot alike.  Still, whatever the reason, we’ve always had trouble communicating and getting along.  Perhaps my sister remembered all the times I played hookie from school by faking illness, and though she never came out and said so, I don’t think she believed I was really in as much pain as I was.  Whatever the case, every time I went to visit Mom, I could feel her anger fill the room, as she ignored me, or spoke sharply to me.

My response to the situation was equally wrong, I tried to pretend nothing was wrong, so I would sit there watching Mom in silence, engulfed in self-pity, because I hate conflict, and I was afraid of making her angrier than she already was.  I really wanted to be there for my mother, but I also wanted to just run away from the painful situation, like I had done my entire life.  Whenever things got too painful or difficult, I tried to run away and avoid it, by trying to ignore the problem and pretending it didn’t exist.  If I couldn’t physically avoid the painful situation, as was the case at that time, then I tried to zone out mentally and think of other things.  I sometimes asked friends or my husband to accompany me, so I could feel that I had at least one person there who loved me.

Again, I was in the midst of a spiritual battle, and my enemy was not my sister, yet, rather than remaining firm in my faith and standing against the enemy of my soul, I reverted to my childhood ways, and responded to things the way I did when I was a little girl.  You see, instead of humbling myself and completely trusting my loving Father to carry me through the pain, I simply gave up without a fight, and allowed the enemy to steal my faith, my joy, my health, and my peace.  I forgot one very important thing that could have sustained me through everything that was happening…

13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

(Philippians 4:13  NLT)

Instead, I reverted to a passive-agressive state.  I became a self-pitying martyr, and I felt very justified about it.  But the fact is I should have clung to my faith, instead of reverting back to the little girl I once was.

On February 15, 2013, my mom passed away, and it ripped my world apart.  At almost fifty-two, I became an orphan, and Satan’s demons and my own mind waged a terrible war against me, and by this time, I was incapable of fighting back.  I was a basket case.  I was wracked with guilt, feeling that I should have done more to save my mother’s life.  I began having nightmares about dying, and I was terrified that I would die and go to hell, because I didn’t help my mother.  I was so disappointed in me, that I was sure God must feel the same way about me.

After all, I was supposed to be a strong minister of God, but I was a failure.  Worse yet, even though others tried to tell me it wasn’t so, I knew that God knows my heart, so how could He possibly love me or forgive me?  I couldn’t even forgive myself.  After the funeral, I couldn’t bear to be around my sister and my other relatives, who I was sure hated me too, so I went home with my husband and my children, who comforted me.  Yet, I couldn’t believe that the Lord would want to comfort me, and so I fell deeper into depression, as I walked in the valley of the shadow of death, forgetting this important thing…

Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
    for You are close beside me.
Your rod and Your staff
    protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
    My cup overflows with blessings.

(Psalm 23:4-5  NLT)

It is only now, as I sit here, writing these words, that I can see the truth.  God was with me in that dark valley.  Not only was He with me, He was close by me, protecting me and comforting me the whole time, yet, because I had given up on myself, and more importantly, on Him, I felt no comfort.  It is only now, as I read the timeless words of the 23rd Psalm, that I realize if I had gone to the gathering after Mom’s funeral, that He would have honored me by preparing a feast before all who were against me, and anointing my head with oil.  Instead of allowing Him to fill my cup to overflowing with blessings, I allowed self-righteousness and self-pity to fill my cup to overflowing, a cup that also overflowed with pain, fear and illness.

Two weeks after my mother died, I was admitted to the hospital with C-diff, a horribly debilitating and sometimes deadly stomach infection.  I was now out of work, uninsoured, living on only $500 a month, and so sick I thought I was dying.  I remember praying in the ER this scripture from  Jeremiah, more to convince myself, than out of faith, because I was truly convinced that I was dying, and going to hell.

14 Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed;
Save me, and I shall be saved,
For You are my praise.

(Jeremiah 17:14  NKJV)

I was quickly descending into the deepest, darkest depression of my life, and I still had a little farther to fall.  A week or two after I left the hospital, my daughter and her family, who had been living with us at the time, moved more than 700 miles away.  Suddenly, our house was empty.

Then, there was the church that I was attending at the time.  I was no longer in church every Sunday, and whenever the doors were open.  Instead, the pain and the medication I was taking, made it very difficult to go to church and sit for hours, not to mention the fact that I was afraid to drive myself, because I would fall asleep at the drop of a hat.  I also found myself dozing in church, which made me feel extremely guilty.  Then, there were different “ministers” who would pray for me.  Some would declare I was healed, and because they said so, I should feel better, but the fact was, I wasn’t better.  I also felt that the Lord told me that this was something I was going to have to walk through, and when I expressed this, I was accused of having weak faith.  One visiting “minister” even said that I had brought this chronic pain on myself, because I wasn’t faithful enough.

In my ever deepening descent into the dark pit of depression, I found myself at the bottom.  I no longer left the house, except to go to my doctors’ appointments, and I cried constantly.  I was consumed by pain, both physical and mental, and I saw no way out of the darkness.  When my husband treated me with lovingkindness, I felt so unworthy of his love, but he never gave up on me.

Through his kindness, and through the wisdom and kindness of the Christian counselor I saw, I began to ascend out of the deepest darkness.  However, I never fully recovered.  I still struggle with depression, and I still live with chronic pain, although thankfully, it is no longer unending.  I hurt most of the time, but occassionally, I do have  good days, and I am thankful for them.  Yet, there is one area that I haven’t fully recovered from.  You see, I felt that I lost the purpose for my life.

Chains are Gone

And then, the Lord began to minister to me today, reminding me that anyone who knows the good he ought to do, and doesn’t do it, sins, and as I began to write and ponder on that, He led me to the next scriptures…

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

(Philippians 4:4-9  NLT)

Do you know what?  I’ve forgotten to rejoice in the Lord!  Do you know that my husband and I have lived off of his small pension only, for more than three years?  Yet, the Lord made a way for us to keep our home, and during a time when we’ve had less to live on than ever before in our married life, our house looks better than it ever has, and we’ve actually had more through the generosity of others, that God moved to act on our behalf.  Isn’t that a reason to rejoice?

You see, I’ve been so caught up in my pain and depression, that I took my focus off God, and those things that are true and honorable, and right and pure and lovely, and admirable, and I looked within myself, at my chronic pain and the losses that I’ve suffered, and as I did so, the blackness smothered me with hopelessness.  I stopped fighting the good fight, until today, when the Lord spoke so clearly to me, urging me to put on my armor and fight back against the enemy of my soul, and against the darkness of my own mind.

Therefore, let me share the good things that God has done for me in the midst of my pain.  He has given me a few good, pain-free days, and even though most days are still really painful, some days, the pain is actually tolerable, and I rejoice in that too.  After more than three years of doing battle with Social Security Disability, I finally won my case, and I now receive my disability pay, and though it might not seem like a lot by some people’s standards, to me, it is huge.

In the midst of our poverty, my husband and I didn’t starve, for God provided us with food assistance.   Although it has been very hard for me to live so far away from my children and my ten grandchildren,  He has made a way for us to see them a couple of times a year.  No, it might not be as often as I’d like, but a little is better than none, isn’t it?

Then, what do I do, when I’m at home, so far away from the children and grandchildren that I love so much?  I have a wonderful and loving husband, who has been patient and kind to me.  When I have so much, why should I dwell on the bad things in my life?

I serve the Creator of the universe, and He loves me.  He never stopped loving me, and it was only when I began to focus on my problems, rather than the good things He has done for me, that I fell into darkness.  And now, today, even though I’ve been fighting nausea and sickness all day, I found that as I began to focus on Him once again, even though I don’t feel well, it is well with my soul.  Thank You Father, for Your unending kindness and Your undying love.

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

A Day in the Life…

12 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. ~ Matthew 24:12 NLT ~

I watched the news Friday night, and as I watched, I wept. Since then, I haven’t been able to get the news out of my mind or my heart. An old Beatles song came to mind as well, and I just couldn’t shake it, so take a listen to the song, before you read on or listen while you read.

Corporal Nathan Cirillo
Corporal Nathan Cirillo

Please bear with me as I share what I saw and heard on Friday night, that caused me to weep… On Friday, Corporal Nathan Cirillo, the twenty-four year old soldier who was needlessly slain Wednesday, was taken home, to be laid to rest. He was driven home along the Highway of Heroes, while hundreds of Canadians gathered to pay tribute to him, as he made his way to his home and final resting place.

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau
Michael Zehaf-Bibeau

On Wednesday, after ruthlessly shooting Corporal Cirillo, his assassin, thirty-two year old, Islamic convert, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, then charged through Canada’s parliament, before being fatally shot by Sargeant-at-Arms, Kevin Vickers. Not only did an innocent young man lose his life, but also, his assassin, their lives cut terribly short.

The following day, when parliament reconvened, Sargeant-at-Arms, Kevin Vickers, was hailed as a hero for killing Zehaf-Bibeau before he could murder or harm anyone else. You could see tears rolling down the staunch officer’s cheeks, as he stood otherwise composed, while the members of parliament gave him a standing ovation, and I couldn’t help but cry for this brave man too, for though he had done the right thing by killing the killer before he could kill anyone else, he would have to live and come to terms with the knowledge that he had taken a human life.

This whole story is heartbreaking. An innocent twenty-four year old, with his whole life ahead of him, including a wife and a six year old son, who will now grow up fatherless, not to mention a brother and parents, was senselessly slain. As a parent of two grown children, I can’t imagine losing one of my children. In the natural scheme of things, parents are usually the first to pass on, and I can’t even begin to imagine how devastating this loss must be to Corporal Cirillo’s family. How could I not weep over this story?

Thomas Eric Duncan
Thomas Eric Duncan

Another story covered, was the ebola epidemic, and the nurses who cared for Liberian national, Thomas Eric Duncan, who was forty-two years old, when he died of the deadly ebola virus in the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. The nurses who spoke to reporters seemed to be genuinely compassionate, as they shared what it was like to care for the dying man. One nurse in particular said that he held Mr. Duncan’s hand, staying by his bedside, in the place of his family members, who were not allowed to be there, because of the danger  of catching the highly infectious disease.

Other nurses shared how their community has responded to them. One said that her niece was asked not to return to school for twenty-one days, even though they don’t even live together. Still others said they were being shunned by various friends and businesses, who were fearful of the medical team contaminating them with the virus, even though the virus is transmitted by body fluids, and is not airborne.

Again, I couldn’t help but weep, for Mr. Duncan, who caught the deadly disease when he buried his pregnant daughter, who died from it. In the aftermath of his falling ill with the dreaded disease, both the Liberian government and the Dallas County prosecutor considered filing criminal charges against the dying man for bringing the disease to the United States.

How ironic this is, when it was the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital that failed to test and treat Mr. Duncan immediately, when he arrived in the Emergency Room on September 24, 2014. When Thomas Duncan told the ER staff he had just returned to the United States from Africa, they should have questioned him more closely about where in Africa he had come from. He should also have been tested for ebola, based simply on the knowledge that he had come from Africa, where the ebola epidemic rages on, yet instead of admitting him to an isolated unit and testing him for the disease, they dropped the ball, sending him home with antibiotics, which could not fight the disease; and to his family, thereby putting them at risk of catching the ebola virus.

When Thomas Duncan returned four days later, on September 28, 2014, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital dropped the ball yet again, with this very sick patient. Yes, they admitted him to an isolated room, but they failed to treat the disease until six days later, on October 4, 2014, when they treated him with an experimental drug. Sadly, it was too little, too late, and Mr. Thomas Duncan died on October 8, 2014.  Had he been tested and treated immediately, there is every reason to believe that Thomas Duncan would have survived the disease, like every other patient who has been treated here in the United States. Again, how could I not weep over the injustice of this?

Man-attacks-police-with-hatchet-jpgAlso in the news was a recap of the unprovoked attack by a man armed with a hatchet on Thursday, who struck two police officers, one on his arm, and other on his head, before he was shot and killed by the two other officers who were there. Sadly, an innocent bystander, a twenty-nine year old woman, was shot in her lower back. Yet again, I couldn’t help but cry, and still, the news continued.

Jaylen Fryberg
Jaylen Fryberg

Friday, during the early lunch at a high school in the state of Washington, Jaylen Fryberg, a fourteen year old freshman, shot and killed a female student, and wounded four others, before shooting and killing himself. It was said that he shot both family members and friends. What could be so wrong, that he would do something so terrible? I couldn’t seem to help myself, as I sat in my recliner, weeping for the lost souls, who placed no value on human lives.

The final story was an uplifting story, yet it, too, broke my heart. Lauren Hill, nineteen years old, and a Freshman at Mount St. Joseph University, near Cincinnati, Ohio, is also a basketball player. After discovering she had a malignant brain tumor that was terminal, Lauren’s response was, “Can I at least still play basketball?”

Lauren Hill
Lauren Hill

Wearing jersey  number 22, Lauren gets up early every morning to practice with her team. Though the tumor has weakened her coordination and energy, Lauren still pushes herself to come to practice. Her goal has been to play NCAA basketball for Mount St. Joseph University since she first found out about her tumor, but because it is likely that she has only a couple of weeks left to live, the NCAA did something unprecedented. Because Lauren’s situation is so urgent, the NCAA made a special exception to change the Division III school’s opener against Hiram College to Nov. 2, despite its rules that require seasons to start later in November.

Lauren’s hopefulness is inspiring. Her goal isn’t just to live to play that one game. She has stated that she hopes Sunday’s game will just be her first basketball game with  her team, and that many others will follow. Again, how could I not weep as I witnessed this young woman’s courage in the face of certain death?

As I sat in my recliner weeping, I wondered what was wrong with me. After all, it’s not as though I knew any of the people in these stories personally, but then, just as quickly, another thought ran through my  mind. “There’s nothing wrong with you for weeping for those who are suffering. Instead, you should ask, “What’s wrong with the people who are not as affected by these stories?”

Sadly, far too many people have become desensitized to the pain of others, Even Christians have become hardened to the pain of strangers. Many adults and young people watch horror films and murder shows, not to mention the nightly news, with all of the violence going on throughout the world, while still others play violent games, and search out violent websites. After viewing so much violence and killing, many people have become desensitized to these things.

However, for those of us who are Christians, this should not be. It’s easy not to feel personally affected by the suffering of someone we don’t know, and have never seen, yet, as followers of Christ, we are to love even those we don’t know, and when you love someone, you care about what happens to them, even if you haven’t seen him/her for a long time. In fact, look at this command for Christians…

15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. ~ Romans 12:15  NASB ~

Beloved reader, when is the last time you wept because of the plight of people you may not even know? When you hear of human trafficking; of children being sold as sex slaves; of men, women and children dying of dreadful diseases like ebola; of tragedies like hurricanes and tornadoes destroying people’s homes and even killing them, do you feel the weight of their pain? Does your heart ache for the abused and misused? The prophets wept for the people of Judea and Israel, especially Jeremiah. Jesus wept for Mary when He saw her weeping over the death of her brother, Lazarus…

33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and [h]was troubled, 34 and said,“Where have you laid him?” They *said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. ~ John 11:33-35  NASB ~

Beloved reader, if you find yourself unmoved by the pain and suffering of others, then you need to pray for God to change your heart of stone…

26 Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. ~ Ezekiel 36:26  NASB ~

Ask the Lord to fill you with His love for others. Ask Him to help you to love others the same way that He loves them. Ask Him to help you to weep with those who weep, and to rejoice with those who rejoice, in Jesus’ name. For this is God’s will for His children. In fact, Jesus commands us to love even our enemies…

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” ~ Matthew 5:43-48  NASB ~

Finally, beloved readers, ask your heavenly Father to help you to weep with those who weep and to rejoice with those who rejoice, in Jesus’ name. For He is faithful to His children, and if we delight ourselves in Him, and ask for anything according to His will, He will give us the desires of our heart…

14 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. ~ 1 John 5:14-15  NASB ~

Take delight in the Lord,
    and He will give you your heart’s desires. ~ Psalm 37:4  NLT ~

Beloved reader, don’t become desensitized (hard of heart). Rather, weep for those who are hurting and struggling. Weep for those who are lost. Weep for the many nations, including our own, who are bent on going to hell.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Overcoming the Spirit of Heaviness

R.I.P. Robin Williams by: DanDynamite

R.I.P. Robin Williams
by: DanDynamite

Exactly two weeks ago, today, Robin Williams, a much loved comedian,  unexpectedly died by his own hand. Sadly, as is often the case in such situations, most of his adoring fans, as well as his friends and family,  never saw it coming. Why would someone as exuberant and seemingly joyful as he was, choose to take his own life? The answer to this question can be summed up in one word:

Depression

Dictionary.com defines depression this way:

1.    the act of depressing.
2.    the state of being depressed.
3.    depressed or sunken place or part; an area lower than
        the surrounding surface.
4.    sadness; gloom; dejection.
5.    Psychiatry. a condition of general emotional dejection
        and withdrawal; sadness greater and more prolonged
        than that warranted by any objective reason.

Depression is as old as sin, and God’s word lets us know that it is a spirit. In fact, Isaiah 61:3 gives us the name of this spirit:

To console those who mourn in Zion,
   To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
   The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
   That they may be called trees of righteousness,
   The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.
    ~ Isaiah 61:3   NKJV ~

TodaysBibleVerse.com
TodaysBibleVerse.com

None of us is exempt from experiencing feelings of sadness, fear and pain during our lifetime, and those feelings are perfectly normal in our sinful and imperfect world. For though God created a beautiful and perfect world for us to live in, that perfection was forever lost to mankind when Adam and Eve, father and mother to all humanity, chose to sin, and in so doing, handed their God-given dominion to Satan, whose mission is to steal, kill and destroy every man, woman and child from the face of the earth, according to Jesus, whose intent is to give us an abundant life…

10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My       purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. 
~ John 10:10  NLT ~

Image Credit: Subconsciously Thinking
Image Credit:
Subconsciously Thinking

Those who have never experienced depression, have a difficult time empathizing and understanding what it is like, for those who live with it. In fact, I always had difficulty understanding it, until I began to experience it for myself, more than a year ago. Depression truly is a spirit of heaviness, and those who carry that weight often falter and fail beneath the it, regardless of how strong, or joyful, or spiritually grounded they are.

Often, the person who is battling with depression slips under the radar, unnoticed, because they wear many different masks. I know this because I’ve worn those masks too, in an effort to appear “normal.” That spirit of heaviness is almost always accompanied by tormenting spirits that whisper accusations of worthlessness to the depressed person, reminding him/her of past or recent failures, and threatening to expose them. The spirit of fear is also closely associated with depression, as it magnifies the person’s current state, threatening to bring every one of his/her fears to fruition.

I’ve been under attack from these spirits for more than a year now, in addition to living with severe chronic back pain, and to be very honest, the weight of the depression has been heavier than any weight I’ve ever carried. I’ve been constantly tormented with accusing voices whispering how worthless I am, and that I am no longer able to minister or bless God. Because I require assistance from my husband to help me get dressed, and to cook and clean and take care of the household chores that I was once able to do, I hear those tormenting voices telling me that I’m wearing my husband down, and that I’m nothing but a burden to him, though he assures me that he loves me, and that caring for me is not a burden to him. Still, the accusations continue, wearing me down emotionally and spiritually, while the pain continues to wear me down physically. And yet, I put on my happy mask when I meet with others, fearing their condemnation on top of what I am already dealing with.

Have you ever experienced the weight and pain that comes from the spirit of heaviness? Do you try to hide what you are going through, to try and avoid more condemnation? Do you think it’s possible that Robin Williams dealt with those same spirits? 

Do you know what motivates me to continue each day, despite the war that’s being waged against my body, soul, mind and spirit? It is the fear of the Lord. You see, though my body is failing, and though discouragement is all around me, I still BELIEVE in the Lord of all creation. I still believe that He is good, and that His plans are to prosper me and not to harm me, and to give me a hope and a future. Although I don’t understand how or why, I believe that God will cause my pain and suffering to work together for my good, because I love Him, and He has called me according to His purpose, not mine…

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.  ~ Proverbs 1:7  NASB ~

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  ~ Jeremiah 29:11  NLT ~

28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.  ~ Romans 8:28  NLT ~

Since the onslaught of the spirit of heaviness against me, I have come to understand why some people choose to end their lives, especially those who do not have a personal relationship with Christ. There have been many times when my faith and hope have wavered and faltered, and yet, by God’s grace, they never completely die.

19 The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. 20 I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. 21 Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:

22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. 23 Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning. 24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in Him!”  ~ Lamentations 3:19-24  NLT ~

Beloved reader, if you are in the midst of a deep and dark depression, be encouraged. Nothing is ever hopeless, because the God I serve is the Almighty God, and with God, all things are possible. Please don’t give up on yourself or God, like Robin Williams did in his pain. Although he was seeking to end his pain, he may have unknowingly carried his pain into eternity. For now, he must answer to God for the life that he took when he committed suicide. Furthermore, if Robin wasn’t born again, then he will spend all of eternity in torment, separated from God. 

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”  ~ John 3:3  NLT ~

This is part of the devil’s cruel deception to mankind. He convinces mankind that there is no God, and then he fools them into killing themselves, thereby ensuring that these men will spend an eternity in hell. I pray that Robin Williams had a personal relationship with Christ, and that he is now in the arms of his creator, for that is the only way his torment will be ended. Sadly, nothing more can be done to help Robin Williams, but there is still time  for you, beloved reader.

Remember that Jesus is the Good Shepherd, and if you have accepted His free gift of salvation, He will never leave you or forsake you. Trust Him to give you rest and give you peace. He will provide for all of your needs. If you will cast all your cares on Him, He will strengthen you and order your steps. 

Beloved reader, if you are going through the dark valley of depression, fear not, for He promises to remain with those who belong to Him, protecting them from all evil.  He is also the God who comforts His beloved children. 

Do you remember when I told you about those tormenting demons, who constantly wear you down with their accusations? Well, my God promises that He will prepare a feast for me in front of my enemies, and He will honor me by anointing my head with oil. I will overflow with His blessings, and His goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 23 – A psalm of David
New Living Translation

1      The Lord is my shepherd;
       I have all that I need.
2      He lets me rest in green meadows;
       He leads me beside peaceful streams.
    He renews my strength.
       He guides me along right paths,
       bringing honor to His name.
4      Even when I walk
       through the darkest valley,
       I will not be afraid,
       for You are close beside me.
       Your rod and Your staff
       protect and comfort me.
5      You prepare a feast for me
       in the presence of my enemies.
       You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
       My cup overflows with blessings.
6      Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue          me all the days of my life,
       and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

Finally, beloved readers, I encourage you to cast all your cares on Jesus, for He cares for you. God’s word commands us not to worry about anything, instead, we are to pray about it. Beloved reader, these words are not for you alone, but also for me. With each scripture that I’ve shared with you, I’ve felt the peace of God that passes all understanding. 

Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.  ~ 1 Peter 5:7  NLT ~

As you read each one of the scriptures that I’ve shared with you, I loose God’s Holy Spirit on you. I pray that He would breathe new life into your dry bones, so that you will live in Jesus’ name. I pray that as you speak each one of His words out loud, healing would begin in your heart and your mind. I bind the spirit of heaviness in each one who reads this post, and I loose God’s perfect peace on you.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.  ~ Philippians 4:6-7  NLT ~

May God bless and comfort each one of you, my beloved readers, and may the mind of Christ be in you!

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

How Can You Mend a Guilty Heart?

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. ~ Romans 8:28 — NLT ~

Smith_guiltHave you ever felt the devastation of guilt? Do you know what it is to be weighed down by the heaviness of regret for not doing the things you should have done? Have you experienced the anguish that comes from a guilt-ridden conscience, because you did the wrong thing? Have you ever felt the endless torment of knowing that you not only let yourself down, but even worse, you failed God?

I’ve known that pain, and I felt as though the guilt and shame would kill me. I’ve known what it is to lose all hope, because the guilt and shame that I carried convinced me that I was unlovable, and that my sins were unforgivable. And though others showed me much mercy, and tried to comfort me, telling me that I hadn’t failed God, in my heart, I knew better.

GuiltYou see, even though things may seem right in the eyes of man, it doesn’t change the fact that they are wrong. Even though others tried to console me, and even though they saw no wrongdoing on my part, I knew I had sinned against God. Therefore, I did what I had always been taught to do as a Christian. I confessed my sin to God.

But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. ~ 1 John 1:9 — NLT ~

guilt2Have you ever confessed your sins to God and still felt the heavy weight of guilt and shame? Have you ever questioned whether you truly are forgiven? Do you know what it is to doubt your own heart? Have you ever seen the error of your ways and wondered if your whole life was a lie? 

That’s how I felt. Do you remember the scripture where Jesus describes what will happen to some who did many things in His name?

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” ~ Matthew 7:21-23 — NKJV ~

I was so wracked with guilt that I wondered if I was one of those who had prophesied in His name, and yet never knew Him. Was I mistaken to believe that I was a child of God? Had I been presumptive in assuming that I was saved? I had believed some things that I’ve since discovered weren’t true. So now, what could I do?

I could start anew. I could go back to the One True Source of all wisdom. I could look to God’s word, and find life.

sharper than any swordFor the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. ~ Hebrews 4:12 — NLT ~

So, how can you mend a heart that has been shattered by guilt and shame? How do you rid your heart from the doubts that have been sown within it, by that same guilt and shame? You go back to the basics…

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.~ Romans 3:23 — NLT ~

As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous— not even one.~ Romans 3:10 — NLT ~

all have sinnedAccording to God’s word, I was no different than everyone else. I had sinned, just as everyone else has sinned. Therefore, although my guilty conscience said otherwise, according to the scriptures, which are God-breathed, I was no worse than anyone else… and it goes without saying that I am certainly no better.

16 “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him. ~ John 3:16-17 — NLT ~

9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. 11 As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in Him will never be disgraced.” 12 Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on Him. 13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
~ Romans 10:9-13 — NLT ~

confess-with-your-mouth-believe-with-your-heart-you-will-be-saved-romans-10-9I do confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord. He is the Lord and Master of everything. And He is certainly the Lord and Master of my life. And yes — I DO believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. I believe it with my whole heart.

And yet, how could I know for sure that I was truly saved and forgiven? Have you ever needed reassurance? Have you ever been so consumed by the guilt and shame, that you just needed some assurance that you were indeed saved and forgiven?

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. ~ Ephesians 2:8-9 — NKJV ~

17 So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ. ~ Romans 10:17 — NLT ~

saved-by-grace-through-faithDo you see? When the time comes that we have failed God and ourselves, so that we are riddled with guilt and shame, causing us to doubt whether we can be forgiven, and whether we are truly even saved, that is when we must have faith in Christ. And this faith is not something we can earn by being good enough or by doing enough good deeds. This faith in Christ is quite simply a gift given by our gracious Almighty God, and the more we hear His word spoken aloud, the stronger our faith grows. 

Now, I won’t tell you that going to church will save you, because the church can’t save anyone. And the scriptures make it very clear that salvation is a gift from God. However, I will tell you that when you gather together with your brothers and sisters in Christ, your faith will grow.

24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. ~ Hebrews 10:24-25 — NLT ~

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. ~ Proverbs 27:17 — NLT ~

iron-sharpens-ironYou see, when I was so addled with guilt and shame, my natural instinct was to pull away from other believers, for in my shame, I didn’t feel that I was worthy of their love, and worse yet, I didn’t feel worthy of God’s love. And so it was, that by pulling away from other believers, my faith began to weaken, for I had no one to pray for me and with me. By hiding myself away, I had no one to encourage me and speak life to me, and I became consumed by the fear of dying. 

And yet, though I was brought low, God, in His infinite mercy and grace, never let me go. He never forsook me. You see, it was also during this time, that He was leading me to leave the fellowship that I had been a part of for more than three years. I no longer belonged there, and at the time, I felt as though that was my punishment — to no longer belong in His house. But I was wrong. 

I no longer belonged in that fellowship, because God was calling me elsewhere. A sister in Christ had been placing posts on Facebook about the church that she had been attending for quite awhile, and I felt the Spirit leading  me to go to this house of worship, and yet, I was hesitant, because the weight of my guilt and shame left me weary and fearful. What if I still didn’t belong here either? 

And yet, I still felt a pull to go to this church, and one thing was for sure… I was sick and tired of being sick and tired! I hadn’t gone to worship with other Christians since before Thanksgiving, and I was hungry! I was hungry to worship and sing to God corporately with other believers, and I was hungry and thirsty to hear the word of God spoken. And so, two Sundays ago, I determined that I would attend worship service at the church my friend had been writing about for so long. 

Beloved reader, do you know what it’s like to walk straight into the will of God? Do you know how good it is to receive confirmation and encouragement from His sweet Holy Spirit… to know that Jesus really does love you? I knew that I had stepped right into His perfect will for me that Sunday. The worship was like honey to my lips. And the preached word pierced right through my broken heart, as the Lord began to mend it with this message about guilt and God’s forgiveness. 

You see, beloved reader, the scripture that says, For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved,” is true. During this whole trial, I called on His name, and He saved my life from the pit. But it wasn’t enough to merely rescue me, for you see, His love for us is much too great to stop there. That’s why He not only forgives our sins when we confess them to Him, He also cleanses us from all unrighteousness. He heals the brokenhearted. Beloved reader, He healed my broken heart. And if He did that for me, He will certainly do the same for you. Just do as I did, confess your sin, and call upon His name — JESUS!!!

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

My Soul Longs for You, Lord

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Image Credit:
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1 As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. 2 I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before Him?

3 Day and night I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me, saying, “Where is this God of yours?” 4 My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration!

5 Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again—my Savior and 6 my God!

~ Psalm 42:1-6a — NLT ~

Times and seasons change, and much as we love those mountaintop experiences, they don’t last. For as surely as we will enjoy the highs, there will also be those times when we are brought low. And as joyful as those high times are, the valley experiences will carry as much or more pain…

depressedSo how do we endure? And why, if I’m a child of the Most High God, can’t I stay on top of the mountain? I’ve been told, and even foolishly believed it myself, that Christians aren’t supposed to be depressed or discouraged. And those who do experience such emotions are at the very least, weak and faithless Christians or at worst, not really even Christians at all…

Father, forgive me for all of the foolish things that I’ve believed over the years, based on what men say, rather than what Your word says. Forgive me, Father, for the times I’ve condemned myself and others, for the pain we were enduring due to being weighed down by a spirit of heaviness. 

When I think of all of the biblical heroes who suffered from depression during their lifetimes, I am ashamed for the pain I’ve added to others who suffered from it, due to my ignorance…

King David suffered from depression many times during his life, when King Saul sought to kill him… when his murderous, adulterous affair with Bathsheba was revealed, resulting in the death of their first-born son… when his son, Absalom tried to steal his kingdom from him, just to name a few…

Job_113-1180Job, a blameless man of complete integrity, was quite depressed after losing his family, fortune, and his health. Having to endure the hurtful speculation of his friends about what could have caused his loss only served to increase his pain, and as if his friends’ criticism wasn’t bad enough for the poor man to endure, his wife went to him and told him that he might as well just curse God and die!  Then, there was Elijah, one of the Old Testament’s greatest prophets, who in just one day, called fire down from heaven, consuming both his offering and the offerings made to the false gods of 400 other prophets. As if that demonstration of God’s power through His servant Elijah wasn’t enough, Elijah then singlehandedly killed those 400 false prophets, before falling into a deep depression just a few hours later, when the wicked Queen Jezebel threatened to kill him…

After being imprisoned, and with his impending beheading looming ahead, John the Baptist fell into depression, which led him to doubt and question the very thing that he had once been so certain of…

2 John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, 3 “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”

~ Matthew 11:2-3 — NLT ~

john_the_baptist_in_prison_350Now, remember, this is the same John, Jesus’ cousin, who leapt in Elizabeth’s (his mother’s) womb, when Mary (who was pregnant with Jesus) greeted her. For even in utero, John recognized the Savior that he was to be the forerunner for. And when he saw Jesus again, at the Jordan River, more than thirty years later…

John testified about Him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for He existed long before me.’”

~ John 1:15 — NLT ~

John also made this testimony about Jesus…

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A Man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for He existed long before me.’ 31 I did not recognize Him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that He might be revealed to Israel.”

32 Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon Him.33 I didn’t know He was the One, but when God sent me to baptize with water, He told me, ‘The One on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the One who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that He is the Chosen One of God.”

~ John 1:29-34 — NLT ~

Here, we see that even this mighty man of God’s faith wavered in the midst of depression and anxiety, and it’s important to see how Jesus responded to John, so that we, too can respond to our brothers and sisters who may be in the midst of depression and anxiety in a like manner…

4 Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— 5 the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. 6 And tell him, ‘God blesses those who do not turn away because of Me.’”

7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. “What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind? 8 Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people with expensive clothes live in palaces.9 Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. 10 John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say,

‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
    and he will prepare your way before you.

11 “I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is! 12 And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it. 13 For before John came, all the prophets and the law of Moses looked forward to this present time. 14 And if you are willing to accept what I say, he is Elijah, the one the prophets said would come. 15 Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!”

~ Matthew 11:4-15 — NLT ~

Do you see that in Jesus’ response to John’s question there is no condemnation of John for his weakness? Instead, Jesus affirmed what John already knew and had testified to, before he was imprisoned and discouraged… “the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. And tell him, ‘God blesses those who do not turn away because of Me.'” You see, Jesus was telling John that Isaiah’s prophecy of Messiah (Isaiah 61:1) was being fulfilled through Him. He also encouraged John not to turn away because of Him, because God would bless him… 

I also love what Jesus then told the others about John. Instead of calling John a loser because of his discouragement and doubt, Jesus informed them that John was more than a prophet. He also let them know that John was Messiah’s forerunner, and that none who had ever lived was greater than John the Baptist… Isn’t that wonderful? In the midst of John’s terrible situation and his depression, Jesus still counted him as great in the Kingdom…

helpesless8trackscoverTherefore, knowing that so many great men and women of God suffered from depression and discouragement, how can we as Christians, condemn one another by minimizing the feelings of a brother or sister in Christ, who is depressed? Is it really fair for us to claim that a “good Christian” should not experience the depths of depression, when clearly, scripture shows us something altogether different? Should we hurl accusations of the person’s faith being “weak”? Or should we pray for our brother or sister, and encourage him/her with the word of God?

5 Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again—my Savior and 6 my God!

~ Psalm 42:5-6 — NLT ~

Do you suffer from depression and discouragement, man or woman of God? Be encouraged! You are not alone. Men and women of God throughout the centuries have suffered through and overcome depression, and it does not make them any less a man or woman of God. Indeed, those who suffer through these difficult times often learn to draw closer to the Almighty One, who alone is able to deliver us from our pain! May the Lord bless you and set you free!

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers