Tag Archives: encouragement

My Soul Longs for You, Lord

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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

Daily Prompt: Un/Faithful

Tell us about the role that faith plays in your life — or doesn’t.
Daily Prompt: Un/Faithful

Hallelujah! I was really excited when I read today’s prompt, and I started to write this long dissertation about what I believe, based on the Apostle’s Creed, but it came out sounding so cold and… boring! And my faith is anything but cold and boring. So, I left the computer, took a shower, then sat down and fell asleep. (I’ve been sick since Christmas, on top of having chronic constant back pain, and the meds leave me feeling exhausted.) Anyway, those who have read and/or follow my blog, can immediately see that my faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is everything to me, and after trashing what I wrote earlier (I’m so thankful for the delete option computers have :D), I’m going to share from my heart, rather than my brain, the role my faith in Jesus Christ plays in my life.

Have you ever been in love? I mean really, totally head over heals in love with someone? Have you ever had a friend who is totally head over heals in love with someone? When someone is completely madly, passionately in love with someone, what does that person spend nearly every waking moment thinking about? The one they love, right? Not only do they spend every waking moment thinking about the one they love, they also talk incessantly about the one they love, whether someone wants to hear about it or not. 😀

That’s how I feel about Jesus. I love Him with my whole heart, soul, mind and strength. I think about Him in the mornings when I wake up. I think about Him throughout the day, and my dreams are filled with Him. Almost always, whenever there is a prompt or challenge that I participate in, my thoughts turn immediately to my Lord and Savior, the Lover of my soul. You see, to put it simply, He has ravished my heart, and everything that I do, reflects that.

Now, some people might ask, “How can you love someone that you’ve never even seen? How do you even know He exists?” And you know what? I think those are fair questions. I’m not at all offended by people who raise those questions, because there was a time when I had questions too. To be perfectly honest with you, there are still things that I question, not because I doubt Him, but simply because I don’t understand. You see, God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways. As a matter of fact, as high as the heavens are from the earth, so are His ways higher than our ways, and His thoughts than our thoughts.

So back to the questions… I know He exists just as I know the wind exists. Even though no one has ever seen the wind, we know it exists because we have felt it and seen its effects. I know Jesus Christ exists, because I have felt His presence, and I have seen the effect He has had in my life and in the lives of others. I’ve heard His voice as He speaks directly to my heart through Scripture, and I’ve also heard Him speak audibly to me. He has whispered words of love to me, when no one else cared, and He has quieted me with His love.

I love Him because He loved me first. I love Him because He has changed me. I’m not the same person I once was. He has delivered me from all fears. And let me tell you, I had many fears and phobias. He has taken my low self-esteem and replaced it with confidence in Him, and in myself. You see, I now know that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

He has taken this woman, who spent so much of my life feeling anxious and worried to the point that my hands constantly shook, my heart raced, and I had trouble catching my breath… a woman who once spent twenty-one days on the psychiatric ward of a local hospital because I suffered panic attacks, a woman who constantly battled depression, and He gave me peace. He didn’t change my circumstances — He changed me. You see, even now, as I’m dealing with chronic back and leg pain, and am unable to work right now… even though I now have no income, and there seems to be no way that things will work out, He is with me, and He has given me peace.

I wanted so badly to get my seven grandchildren Christmas presents this year, but my income has ceased… I wanted to have my children and grandchildren come for Christmas dinner and Christmas cookies, but again, there was no money to provide for this… I went ahead and invited them to come anyway, by faith, trusting the Lord to provide, but I wasn’t sure there would be enough food on the table. Then I got a message on December 20, that I had one more check from work. Suddenly, I had $200, which enabled us to get each grandchild a gift, and put food on the table for Christmas. Do you wonder why I love Him?

Jesus loves me and takes care of all my needs. He was the One who told me to begin writing again, which is why I started this blog. He is the One who gives me life, and even though I’m in a lot of pain, I can still give Him glory, because even in the midst of the pain, He is with me, comforting me and encouraging me to press on.

It is my faith in Christ that gives me hope that I will one day be free from this chronic pain, whether here and now, or when I pass on. It is my faith in Christ that removes my fear of death, because if I’m alive in the flesh, I get to spend my life loving and being loved by Him. And if I die, I’ll finally get to look upon His glorious face, to behold Him in all of His glory, to caress His nail scarred hands and touch His brow that bore the pain of the crown of thorns.

I’ll get to finally gaze into the eyes that have gazed upon me and loved me, even when I was unlovable. I think that’s one of the things I love most about Jesus. He has loved me through good times and bad. He loved me when I didn’t love Him. He remained faithful to me, even though I was unfaithful to Him. He never gave up on me. When others looked at me and saw nothing worth loving, He looked beyond my sin, beyond my failure and He saw the woman that He created me to be.

And do you know what? He looks at you the same way. Each one of us was lovingly fashioned and knit together in our mother’s womb by His hands, and each one of us was created for a special purpose. Not one of us were accidents, though our parents and the rest of the world may have thought so. No, you see, He knew us before the foundations of the earth were laid, and He created each one of us to accomplish something. We were created for His glory. 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) 

Isn’t it good to know that God Himself created each one of us, and no matter what we’ve been through, no matter what we’re going through now, and no matter what we will go through, He has a good plan for those who love Him, not for disaster, but to give us a future and a hope. Are you struggling? Are you hurting and in pain? Are you fearful of what may happen to you? You don’t have to be. You see, Christ gives hope to the hopeless. He gives peace and forgiveness. In fact, we are told to cast all of  our cares on Him, because He cares for us.

Are you weary and heavily burdened? Jesus says, “Come, and I will give you rest.” Do you feel as though you’re all alone? Jesus promises, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

I’ve shared with you the importance of my faith, but here’s the thing… Jesus loves you just as much as He loves me. He doesn’t promise that the road to Him will be easy, but He does promise to be with us and to strengthen us, and all He asks for in return is that we love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, and forgive others as He has forgiven us.

© 2012
Cheryl A. Showers