Tag Archives: spirit of heaviness

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

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

Image Credit: pinterest.com
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

My Psalm of Hope and Despair

Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy!
I look to You for protection.

    I will hide beneath the shadow of Your wings
until the danger passes by.
I cry out to God Most High,
to God who will fulfill His purpose for me.
He will send help from heaven to rescue me,
disgracing those who hound me. 
Interlude

My God will send forth His unfailing love and faithfulness

O Lord, You know the pain I’ve dealt with for so long now!
You alone know my struggles and my deepest fears.
Only You know the torment I’ve suffered this year.
Father, I am weary, and weak and so broken. Continue reading My Psalm of Hope and Despair

Dark Night of the Soul

Image Credit: caddoveil.com

When I got up this morning, I had no intentions of posting anything other than for Sis Caddo’s Seven Word Sundays, but right after posting that, I was strongly led to write another post. I knew I wouldn’t have time to do it this morning, because my husband and I were going out of town to see my son, daughter-in-law and five of my seven grandchildren. Also, to be honest with you, this wasn’t really a post that I wanted to share with anyone, however, when I returned home, the compulsion was there yet again, to share this post, and there was also a promise as well. You see, I believe with all of my heart that this post I am sharing with you has the power to mend broken hearts.

As many of my regular readers know, 2013 has been an extremely difficult year for me thus far. Beginning in January, towards the middle of the month, I had to take my husband to the emergency room, because his foot became extremely swollen and so painful, he could hardly walk. Then, my mother was taken to the emergency room and admitted to the hospital because she was very ill, and before the month was over, I was taken to the emergency room for chest pains (I had pleurisy, which is extremely painful… If you’ve ever had it before, you know what I mean.) 

February was no kinder, as my mother’s condition grew worse, and we came to the realization that her time on earth was coming to a close. She passed away on February 15, and was laid to rest on February 22, and it broke my heart. I didn’t realize how much I loved my mom until I lost her. And then, my husband’s other foot started swelling and hurting, and the doctors couldn’t figure out what was going on with  him…

Then, as we marched into March, I became terribly ill. I thought I had a stomach virus, but as many of you know from a post that I wrote, I had developed C-Diff, a terrible stomach infection, that caused me to be hospitalized for several days. When I finally left the hospital, I was placed on an antibiotic for 20 days, and though I returned home, and felt somewhat better, all of my strength was gone, and up until this past week, I was extremely nauseated.

Image Credit: http://content.bandzoogle.com/users/ tabladrum/images/photos/gallery/445726.jpg?0

In this midst of my illness, my husband’s illness, and grieving for the loss of my mother, I fell into a deep, dark depression. It was truly a dark night of my soul, and I couldn’t seem to pull myself out of it, as the spirit of heaviness weighed down on me, smothering and oppressing me. I was so sick, I couldn’t eat, and was constantly exhausted. I didn’t want to be around anyone, and at the same time, I was extremely lonely, if that makes any sense.

I hate depression and its lies. I thought I was a woman of great faith, and then to find myself wallowing in anxiety and depression brought shame to me. You see, I’m a minister of the Most High God, and many times, I’ve ministered to others who have been depressed, but now, I found myself struggling with a depression like I hadn’t had in many years. I thought those days of darkness and depression were long gone, when the Lord had helped me to overcome them years ago. For crying out loud, I’m a prayer warrior, a mighty woman of God, but now, I was reduced to a weeping, painful, lost little girl.

I loved the Lord, but I couldn’t write as much as I wanted to, because simply sitting up at the computer made me feel as though I was going to throw up, which fed the depression, which kept growing like some dark, black monster. Then, my daughter and her family moved to Georgia, a couple of weeks ago. The Lord revealed it to me before they even told me, so I asked my daughter, who was dumbfounded, because she said she and her husband had only talked about it the night before…

It broke my heart that they were moving more than twelve hours away from me, but at the same time, something happened within my spirit… The Lord had spoken to me again. A spark lit my hope, which had nearly died… In the dark night of my soul, God had not given up on me. He was still speaking to me.

Image Credit: http://propheticverses.com/rev01/rev0101/ rev0101bjesus/0101b23isa49.htm

Then, one day last week, I was talking to a friend, and the Spirit of the Lord came upon me, and I prophesied to her, confirming everything the Lord had spoken to her earlier during her devotional time with Him. It had been so long since the Lord had used me to prophesy, and in the dark night of my soul, I had feared that I was destined to spend the rest of my life like this — alone and miserable, no longer able to hear the Lord’s voice as I once had, no longer useful to Him.

It had become hard to pray, because I was no longer sure if God could hear me. As I write these words, I’m struck by how weak I was, how deceived I was, but when the enemy ties you up in those chains of deception and covers you with those robes of heaviness and oppression, it’s hard to see the truth through the darkness.

As the Lord ministered to me, igniting my hope and reminding me of His great love for me, I made a decision to go to church last Wednesday night, no matter how I felt. He had exposed my problem, showing me that I had a spirit of heaviness, and I knew what needed to be done.

6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in His good time He will honor you. 7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about what happens to you. 8 Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour. 9 Take a firm stand against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. 10 In His kindness God called you to His eternal glory by means of Jesus Christ. 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 is His forever and ever. Amen.

~ 1 Peter 5:6-11 NLT ~

As I cast all of my cares upon Him, I felt a weight lift from me, as the Lord ministered to me. You see, I had bought into the lie from the enemy that I was a failure, no longer fit to be used of God. In my grief, and pain, the enemy just kept coming after me, with more and more ammunition, and in my weakness, I buckled under the weight of it all, forgetting that which is true…

His anger lasts for a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may go on all night, but joy comes with the morning.

~ Psalm 30:5 NLT ~

The Lord ministered to me that night, as He’s been ministering to me all week, reminding me of His great love for me… He reminds me that though I was disappointed in myself for being weak, He was not disappointed. 

13 The LORD is like a Father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him. 14 For He understands how weak we are; He knows we are only dust. 15 Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die. 16 The wind blows, and we are gone — as though we had never been here. 17 But the love of the LORD remains forever with those who fear Him. His salvation extends to the children’s children 18 of those who are faithful to His covenant, of those who obey His commandments!

~ Psalm 103:13-18 NLT ~

How grateful I am that I have a Savior who loves me just as I am. Though the enemy came to steal my joy, kill my hope and destroy my life, I serve a Savior who redeemed me. He purchased my freedom, and paid my ransom with His life. He not only restored my life, He gave me abundant life. 

10 As a result, I can really know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead. I can learn what it means to suffer with Him, sharing in His death, 11 so that, somehow, I can experience the resurrection from the dead! 12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be,but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.

~ Philippians 3:10-14 NLT ~

My beloved readers, there’s no doubt in my mind that the Lord placed it in my heart to write this post not to expose my weaknesses, but to encourage you. I know that some of  you are battling with grief and depression, just as I have been. I know that many of you are in the midst of a dark night of your soul, and you wonder if you will ever again see the light of day. Listen to me, my beloved friend, as I pray for you, for the Spirit of the Lord God is upon me…

1 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, 3 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 61:1-3 NKJV ~

Father, in Jesus’ name, I cry out to You for every man, woman and child who You lead to read this post, that You would bind up the brokenhearted. Comfort those who mourn, Lord, in Jesus’ name, and set those who are imprisoned and bound by depression, affliction and addiction free. Lord, I know that what You have done for me, You will do for others, because You are no respecter of persons, and You don’t love me any more than You love Your other children. 

Arise, O Lord, and show Yourself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are loyal to You. Father, give each person who is weighed down by that spirit of heaviness, a garment of praise in its place. Lord, let them begin to praise You in the midst of their pain, and as they do so by faith, Lord, set them free!

Father, for those who are in the midst of a storm, in Jesus’ name right now, I  speak to that storm, and I say, “Peace — Be still!” For those who are bound by fear, I speak to the spirit of fear right now, and I cast that spirit out in Your name, because You are love, and perfect love casts out fear. For those who are in the midst of that dark night of the soul, I loose Your Holy Spirit and Your Word, in Jesus’ name, because in You there is light, and the darkness must flee. 

Lord, I believe that You allowed me to go through this dark night of my soul, so that You could minister to others who are going through similar pain, and so I loose Your Spirit to each of those that You lead to read this post, and in Jesus’  precious and holy name, I speak life, peace and hope to each one. Amen.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Trifecta Challenge: Intention

Trifecta Challenge: Intention
The weekly prompt comes from a place many of us associate with the beginning of a new year.  Do you make resolutions or think it’s all just hogwash?  Did you make any this year?
INTENTION (noun)
1: a determination to act in a certain way : resolve
2: import, significance
3a : what one intends to do or bring about
b : the object for which a prayer, mass, or pious act is offered

Please remember:
  • Your response must be between 33 and 333 words.
  • You must use the 3rd definition of the given word in your post.
  • The word itself needs to be included in your response.
  • You may not use a variation of the word; it needs to be exactly as stated above.
  • Only one entry per writer.
  • Trifecta is open to everyone!!  Please join us.

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Here I am again, Lord, crying out to You. O God, I need Your mercy and Your peace now more than ever. Father, give me the wisdom I need to face each day, and help me to be a blessing to others, and not a curse. Give me words of life to speak to others, words that will edify and encourage, rather than tearing them down and destroying them. 

Lord, when I got up at 1:00 again, this morning, it was not my intention to write a post, nor was it my intention to spend this time pouring my heart out to You. I suppose this was Your plan all along, and I have to say, that I am so thankful for that. 

I praise You Lord, for every person You lead to read this prayer, and I ask You to speak to their hearts, Father, in Jesus’ name. For those who are sick and in pain, Lord, touch their bodies as they read this prayer, not for my glory, but for Yours. For those with a spirit of heaviness, Lord, in Jesus’ mighty name, I ask You to loose those chains of heaviness, so that they may know that You are the God of deliverance.

Father, in Jesus’ name, I ask You to lavish Your love on each and every person who reads this prayer. Let them know that You truly are the God of love, and that You care so much for each person, that You’ve even numbered the hairs on our heads. For the ones who are mourning, grieving for the loss of loved ones, whether that loss was by death or abandonment, please, wrap Your loving arms around each one. Send Your peace, and calm the storms that are raging in so many lives, just as You calmed the wind and the waves so many years ago, when You said, “Peace! Be still.”

Lord, I love You with all of my heart, and it is my desire to lift You up, because You are worthy of all praise glory and honor. Amen.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers