Fighting the Good Fight

It is hard to believe that this old blog is still alive…well, sort of. It has been nearly a year and a half since I have attempted to write. Not sure exactly why it came to a halt, but for a while, I know that I simply did not have it in me. I am posting something I wrote 16 long months ago—way before COVID-19 presented its ugly self and changed everything for everyone around the world. I am not sure why I never shared it. It was the last thing I wrote until now. At times I wonder why I allow myself to be so vulnerable. I believed that it never seemed to be doing much good, and I know that I do not have what it takes to get this blog really out there, so I figured I would take a break. I just did not expect it to be so long. I wanted to quit altogether, but at the same time, I thought why give up now when I have put so much of my heart out there with the hope that someone else would be encouraged. There’s a lot of great things of God through life’s challenges to share. So here I am again giving it another try. We will see how this goes. My only hope for this blog has always been to touch a heart or two through life’s challenges.

The below writing ends with “I will keep you posted…” Hopefully this time, I will. I am pretty sure I will because amazing things have happened since. Especially during the toughest and most heartbreaking challenges. I have grown so much since this 2019 writing which I happened to find saved on my laptop today that I had completely forgotten about. I am so grateful, especially during this crazy time of uncertainty we are all in right now. I pray someone will find encouragement to keep standing and keep pressing on no matter what through the following words from my heart to yours…God Bless.

January 2019:

I think God revealed to me that I had stopped fighting. I had given in and stopped fighting for my heart. This came to me after too many nights of crying to Him not understanding how I had become so low that I began to wish for relief through death again. I felt so bad for feeling bad again.

One of my recent daily devotions was called Fighting for Mental and Emotional Health – one of the mornings was reminding me how I am not alone in the battle – many followers of Jesus battle depression and of course it gave me the examples of leaders and prophets in the Bible that battled and how God used them regardless.  It also said that my faith is not broken and God is still for me and desires to walk with me to victory. Another day gave me Proverbs 4:23 (HCSB), “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” Mental and emotional health flows from the heart – I must stand and keep fighting for my heart! It’s so beautiful, what a daily devotion, God’s Word, and seeking Him wholeheartedly each morning can do. Praise the Lord, I am back in the fight.

So much has been flowing into my heart since this recent awakening. I learned or re-learned that I do not need to try and hide (which I think is ridiculous that I even try) my emotions from God. King David did not hide his emotions, he was honest with God and I am following his example the best I can.

I am grateful he gave us Psalm 42:5 (HCSB) “Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him my Savior and my God.” I must remember this Psalm when I go through these seasons. Sometimes I feel like I can barely stand at the altar and sing in church, but when I do, WOW the presence of God fills my heart. He takes everything from me and I feel His love pour through. I am grateful that I am up there singing each Sunday. It is so true that when I worship God, I become aware of His magnificence and suddenly my circumstances pale when compared to His greatness.

Now that I am back in the practice of fighting for my heart every day, another devotion inspired me to try something I have not done before. I was to pray for God to reveal one word to me that He wants me to keep front and center of my life for the entire year of 2019. I had two words that came to mind and I was not sure at first if either of them was from God, but after daily prayer for about a week, He gave me JOY (the other word was Fight). I am to live this word out every single day this year and that has been what I have done since the 1st. It is amazing. For the last few months of 2018, I was asking God to teach me how to enjoy this gift of life. I felt like such a loser that I have not been enjoying life. I thought that have been living out God’s Word as much as possible, but I allowed circumstances of life to get in my way of enjoying anything. I was feeling ashamed about it, but I am not feeling that way anymore. Everything that I have experienced have been some of the greatest lessons of my life!

I have been reading and meditating on Joy every day. I printed things out from Bible Study Tools and another great resource, the other day. Suddenly, Philippians 4:4-9 spoke to me so loud and clear. I printed different translations from Bible Gateway for those verses and I am reading them aloud every day. It is changing my heart! This is the year of much Joy of the Lord, and I believe it is going to change my life in an incredible way by the end of the year. I am going to keep fighting, I cannot give up!

One of the many things I printed on joy said, “Joy is a permanent possession while happiness is fleeting.” I really like that…permanent possession. It is deep, abiding, and permanent. 😊 It’s awesome reading Scripture on Joy plus finding what other sources say about joy every day is already changing my heart. I pray that I will not allow distractions to stop me from this practice. I am hooked after only four days. I think it’s going to change my life more than ever. I will keep you posted!

I hope you too, will seek the Lord’s Joy that never depends on life’s circumstances. He promises that NO ONE can ever take it away from you. Take hold of your permanent possession today!

I still want to believe that this life is worth living…

So, I made it through another Christmas. That sounds a bit sad to me. I am sorry if you think so too. Honestly, I have been battling the sadness AGAIN. Since I became a true Christian almost nine years ago, I always thought that Christmas is supposed to be a wonderful time with people we love, with hearts filled with gratitude for the Perfect Gift that each of us has been given – the night the Savior was born — born to die so that we may have a chance at life…something like that. But when you’re like me, it is just trying your best to make it through family/friend time without being too much of a Debbie-Downer. I love my family. I love my church family and friends. But I must say, it continues to be extra challenging being sober. It is my 9th holiday season being 100% sober, and this year I found myself once again wishing I could be drunk through it. Well, at least through some of it. I guess there are times when I still think I can hide the real, messed-up-Deb, behind a mask of booze, but I am thankful that I know better. I am still a miracle in the making.

It has been a tough few years. I am blessed and grateful that I can share that a loved one overcame cancer, but the experience and treatment has changed things drastically and that is about all I can share at this time due to privacy. Basically, it has been hard on my heart. I have learned that since I have made it past 50 years of age (which I believe is another miracle), that I was nowhere close to being prepared for what life might bring at this stage in my life. My heart keeps getting hit hard by uncontrollable circumstances. I keep giving it all to God, but it still hurts.

When I feel this low, I find myself fading away a bit. That is the only way I can think of describing what it feels like. I am here, but hopefully invisible. Sometimes I think it really works because someone can be near me but they look right through me as if I am not really there. It’s weird. Like an out of body experience, I guess. Being invisible is mostly what I want, yet when my plan works, it does not feel so good at times.

So why am I taking another risk by putting my vulnerable self out there like this again? It is simple. People need to know that no matter how bad life seems, no matter how much pain is in their heart and mind that never seems to end, there is a reason to stay and suffer through. And although it may be hard to fathom for some of you, it is worth it. I believe that I am here because too many have given up on hope, and too many are thinking about it at this very moment. It makes me cry.

My heart feels too much, but I think it is a gift from God so I can understand the pain of others. You cannot truly encourage others to keep pressing on if you have never known what it is like to want to end the pain in death under your own terms. My heart was pained by the teenager who gave up on hope somewhere around the Thanksgiving holiday. Oh, the pain. And the pain that his family is now enduring for such a devastating loss. One of the parents happens to be a colleague of mine. My heart still hurts. Another colleague had PTSD and suffered for I do not know how long and could not hold on to hope so he took his own life in October 2017. That one still stings as well. They discovered Jesus, so I am blessed to know that He was there to receive them with open arms, for NOTHING shall be able to separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39).

I cannot do anything about those who are already gone, but I can pray that someone believing that death by suicide is the answer would somehow feel the love of God through me and/or others that know the pain and choose to stay, trust God, and press on. We need more people of faith to share their stories for encouragement. Many want to keep their stories private. I can understand, but I hope they will pray and receive the courage that God gives because this is a matter of life and death. Please prayerfully consider this mission. If you have not found your purpose, perhaps this might be it or a piece of it.

And for those who do not know what this deep dark emotional despair that sometimes wins is like, I pray for you too. Especially if and when you are ever faced with someone near and dear that you know or suspect might do something so drastic and devastating. Please be patient. If you are not close to God, I pray that this will be a time that you do become close. If you do not believe in Him, I pray that you would seek Him out to see if He is real. That’s what happened to me. I found Him, just like His Word in Scripture said I would. I…we all need God to help through all of this. I have people I care for in my life and they have no idea how much it hurts when I see them living apart from God. When they use His name inappropriately in front of me, I used to think I needed to defend my God. But I realized something recently, the pain in my heart is because some of my friends do not know the love of God as I have discovered and that breaks my heart. I have learned that the best thing I can do is pray that my being open about my faith will help open a door to their heart for God to come in some day. I have to leave that up to God.

God-honoring people in my life have no idea how much they continue to help save my life by being a true example of faith. They draw me near to God, they do not do things that might lure me away from Him.

Telling someone to “snap out of it” or “get over it” or “I can’t take your depression any longer” or “you are being selfish” will only make things worse. I even think quoting Scripture or reminding someone of their blessings is not helpful if it is not a message nudged by God. When you get close to God and discover His heart, you become very familiar with those kinds of nudges. I believe if God nudges you to say something specific to someone else, that He has gone ahead of you to prepare that heart to receive it. I have learned, thanks to my mentor, to never run ahead of God. I do not want to risk pushing someone in the wrong direction because their heart was not ready. Whenever I have said something that was nudged by God, I am always amazed at how it was received. I can see God moving in their hearts.

I also think about the friends that we read about in the story of Job. I want to be that kind of friend. I need those kinds of friends. I need to clarfiy, if you haven’t read the story in a while or at all, take a look at Job 2:11-13. I am talking about prior to them opening their mouths and ruining everything. Initially, they sat with Job without a word and cried with him. How amazing would that be if we learned to do the same for those around us who need comfort instead of trying to fix them or their circumstances with our so-called words of wisdom? The Bible encourages us to weep with those who weep in Romans 12:15. We should also rejoice when they rejoice…this life isn’t always about pain. I thank God for that!

Here is something I can rejoice over. Through all my pain and suffering I have discovered purpose. There IS purpose in pain!! I am living it. It is nothing new than what is written in the Bible — to love God my Creator with all my heart, soul, and mind (troubled mind and all) and to love others. When you have this love of God pouring in and out of you, you can’t help but share about Him and His goodness in your life. We should not be surprised by our pain and troubles in this present evil world. I do not live this life perfectly, but I try my best and continue believing that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13) and I take God for His word! God’s Word never fails.

This is the first time I have been on here writing in such a long time. I work full-time, go to college part-time and the emotional struggle has been deep, but I am grateful for the courage and strength to share this tonight. I am thankful for those of you who encourage this tiny unknown blog. I may be a miniscule ministry, but I am mighty in the name of Jesus. Amen? I love how God will use any willing heart.

If this has touched you in anyway, I hope you will share it. It is my heart pouring out no matter what the cost.

If you are suffering, like so many of us, I pray that you will know God’s life-saving love so you will keep courageously choosing life and be an encouragement to someone else. Imagine if each of us touched one heart. It only takes one heart to reach millions. I love knowing that and it is so cool to think about.

And my humble request for anyone who is reading this, will you pray with me? Please pray that there would be such an outpouring of the Spirit of God that those hearts lost in the dark will know His love beyond a shadow of a doubt and will be changed forever. Pray for strength. Pray for perseverance through the pain. I pray more lives will be saved. Not just for the other side of eternity, but for this precious short time that we have been gifted on this earth.

I DO still believe that this life is truly worth living. Thank You, Jesus, for the everyday chance to choose Your precious gift of life. Friends, let’s keep holding on to hope of Jesus Christ who came to seek the lost and save us no matter what. May you come to know His deep abiding joy that is not based on circumstances of life. May you come to know just how much you are loved and may that love give you courage and the desire to keep on keeping on for the glory of the Lord. †

Thank you for stopping by and praying with me. God bless you richly.

I Cannot Do Anything from the Grave

The god of this world is relentless. I do not need to tell any of you that, the news media does a good job of it. Every day, we hear about tragedy upon tragedy of the lives that have been lost to violence. We hear and see lives without hope. We do not need news media for that, if we are paying attention, we are surrounded every day by it. Maybe it is just me, but sometimes I think we feel some things are so hopeless and we believe we are too helpless, so we go about our days the best we can. The battlefield of my mind gets brutal at times, and if I am not careful, I know that I can end up losing big. There is no doubt that the evil one never gives up on trying to get me to turn away from God. How is it that I have not lost this battle? Well, because I have learned how I can be equipped to fight, not by my own might, but by the Lord God Almighty. My mighty weapon is His Word and not a day goes by that I am not studying and living out God’s Word. It is never done perfectly and that is OK. Getting to this point in my life has taken the last eight years of learning and growing through painful lessons and it will continue through the rest of my time on this earth. However long that might be, only God knows. I am grateful for this surrender that has taken place in my life that keeps me alive–truly alive.

The Bible warns us through Peter in the New Testament – 1 Peter 5:8: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Friends, we do not stand a chance in this present evil world if we are not wholeheartedly seeking out God (“sober” from distractions of the chaos near and far)—the Creator of ALL, through His Living Word. God’s truths cancel out the enemies lies—lies that we are nothing and can do nothing worthwhile in this life, so we might as well just live for ourselves in the now and forget about God. His perfect LOVE cancels out the enemy’s fear that keeps us stuck and many of us in the pit of despair. If you are in God’s Word, not just hearing and reading, but DOING, He will protect you from those lies that want to draw you away from Him and draw you to all the temporal things in this dark world that leave you empty and hopeless. It is like being led to a cliff that you cannot see, and the pending doom does not appear until it is too late.

My heart hurts to share that two people in my area fell off such a cliff this week: Recently, a woman refused help to leave her mentally dangerous boyfriend during his short stay in jail. The boyfriend was off his medication and relatives thought he was about to snap and hurt somebody. The woman rejected the offer insisting that although she knew he was struggling mentally, she believed that he loved her and would never hurt her. This week, only a few weeks later, she is dead—murdered by her boyfriend during a heated argument. The other tragedy was a man with no hope decided to end his life by jumping in front of a moving train. You can imagine the gruesome scene moments later.

Two unfinished lives that mattered, are finished on this earth. I did not know these people, but I know they mattered because their Creator is also mine and nobody cares more than Him.

I struggle with deaths like this. When I become vulnerable, no matter what the cause, the enemy wreaks havoc in my heart and mind to the point where I feel mentally sick and tearfully wonder “Why I am still alive, God?!” When I grow weary, I start to go where I should not go—the old familiar place of darkness and feel like I will never be able to help anyone else in this journey. But then, “lies, lies, lies” is spoken to my heart. God reminds me of everything that He has done in my life, not only in the last eight years of when He made Himself real to me, but He shows me how He was there before I even knew Him. God was there before, during, and when I finally chose to leave the abusive relationship I was in for over five years. I see now, that it was a deathtrap. I chose to give God a chance and surrender my entire life (not just the easy parts of it—ALL of it) to Him. I chose (and continue to choose) to reach for Him, rather than consuming deadly amounts of alcohol in failed attempts to fill the emptiness and numb the pain that only became worse with each drink. I chose to live, not just any life, but one that leads to eternal life and hopefully encourages and draws others to Him so they will do the same. He was there then, and He is here now. My amazing God…

Currently in my daily devotions, I am in the Old Testament book of Jeremiah and I want to share the encouraging Word that God has brought to my heart through it. It came from Jeremiah 10:12—“But God made the earth by His power; He founded the world by His wisdom and stretched out the heavens by His understanding.”   Through this I learned, “Once people admit their need, they should turn away from their emptiness and focus on God’s fullness. True wisdom is to be found in God alone (James 1:17). Ultimately, there is nothing and no one who can successfully substitute for God.” AMEN. This, I know to be true because I am now living it.

I found that after my struggles this week with those tragic losses that did not have to happen, I realized something amazing that came to me through my time in seeking God, and He put these words on my heart: “You made a choice to admit your need for Me and chose to turn away from your emptiness! They chose not to! You are alive, and I plan to use your life to help others to choose life too. Trust Me!” I cannot spend time wondering why they made their choices, but I can spend time thanking God that I am still choosing His gift of life and perhaps others will see and want to live too. No matter how painful this life can be, it is only temporary and does not compare to what He has in store for us. So, every day I can say, “Yes, Lord! I trust You, with my whole heart!”

I cannot encourage people enough to surrender all to God and daily live in His presence and seek out His will for their lives. Every answer to every question, every comfort for every pain, every need for every want, absolutely EVERYTHING, can be found in His Word, The Holy Bible that teaches us how to live in this fallen world. The Spirit of God is here with us now. He is waiting to help more and more to discover a whole new life, an abundant one. I can keep sharing my heart so vulnerably, it is a chance that I am willing to take. I cannot save people, I cannot not heal the pain, I cannot fill the emptiness, but GOD CAN. Say YES! to Him today.

I have learned, and I keep learning and believe, especially in those times when I am thinking the dark thoughts that want me to give in…I cannot praise God, I cannot share His greatness in my life, I cannot share His life-saving HOPE with others, I cannot do anything from the grave. THAT is why I choose life and I pray that it touches at least one heart. It only takes one…amen?

May God bless you all richly as He has blessed me.

Thank You, Jesus, my Lord and Savior. I am grateful to be alive. †♥

The Thoughts of God—Encouragement for Troubled Souls

Most people familiar with Scripture are familiar with the Jeremiah 29:11 translation that says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I recently read it in the New King James Version and it really stood out me like never before. It says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” I don’t know about you, but I really love that translation. It is now my favorite. God’s thoughts toward me…that warms my heart.

In this present evil world, we must choose to believe and remember that God is in control, He is alive, and that He moves powerfully in the lives of those whose hearts are wholly devoted to Him. If we are not living wholly devoted to the Holy One who works ALL things for good, we will never be able to become all that He has intended for us to be. We may have temporary success and happiness, but it is meaningless and leaves us empty. I have learned that nothing good, truly good, comes from anything that is done apart from God. Yes, He wants us to enjoy this life, but not apart from Him. Not if it means that He is no longer number one priority in our life.

I am 52 years old and weeks away from receiving my AA in psychology. For the first time in my life, I am graduating with honors. I have been accepted at the university I applied for and I am set to transfer for the Fall 2018 semester to continue in my undergraduate work. The only thing that I can clearly see as to why I am doing this is because it is God-led. I would not be putting myself through this otherwise! There is no doubt that God is guiding because of the amazing opportunities that I have had to share about Him with specific people on campus in the secular world. Not to mention how everything is working out, every single class I have needed has become available for me while others students have not been able to get into the same classees. It took a while to realize that my returning to school is not for me at all. I thought it was at first, but God has made it clear that I am on a mission. I am blending in with students that are much younger than me, but it works because I do not look like I could be their mother…thank You, LORD for that! Not only am I learning some amazing things in psychology, I am learning to watch for those doors that only He can open, to speak the words that only He can give me, to the hearts that only He can prepare to have an encounter with. This desire He has placed on my heart makes all the hard stuff and tears worth it.

This journey has brought moments of confusion, pain, and tears. It has brought heartache and a few weak moments where I wanted to get drunk to forget about things for a bit. But just like Scripture says, “No temptation has overtaken me except what is common to mankind. And GOD IS FAITHFUL. He will not allow me to be tempted beyond what I can bear…” Amen? Amen! I love His Word on my heart so I can see those escape routes and endure whatever the tempest throws my way.

Even so, I have many moments when I cry out to God, “Why in the world am I am doing this, Lord? I am old and tired”, but then I remember that I do not have to understand His perfect plan. It helps to remember so I can stay encouraged when I do not get an answer. I am learning more and more to trust Him. It is true that His grace is sufficient. People say it all the time, but I am learning to really live it. I am learning that His power is made perfect in my weakness. Besides, God has never given me a reason not to trust Him. I am learning that while I do my part, He is always doing His. I get to do my passion of ministry while I walk as a student and even though the degree in the world’s eyes does not seem like much, God will use it for His good purpose. I live in God’s economy and God’s Kingdom and He can move godly and ungodly hearts to make whatever He wants happen. It is an amazing way to live.

I will be honest, the dark valleys I walk through at times cause me to desire that the work that His Word says He will complete in me, will be completed very soon. Sometimes I do not want to stay here. But God always brings me back to my right mind and strengthens me to carry on. I have learned that it does not matter that I do not know exactly what God has in store for my life. Every once in a while, He blesses me with tiny glimpses. The ministry moments on campus have been incredible and I think He allows me to see Him touch a heart or two so I can stay encouraged. I realize just how blessed I am because most of the time, we do not get to see what He does with the seeds we sow for His Kingdom.

At the end of a fast-track class this semester, I had an opportunity to share that God became real in my life and I recently celebrated eight years of sobriety. Someone who had decided to stop believing in God and become an atheist in his late teens heard my story. At the end of his presentation, which was hours after mine, he said, “Deborah, your story really inspired me. Maybe what happened for you, will happen for me.” If that wasn’t God moving in his heart…WOW. I will never forget that day. THAT is why I am taking classes on campus.

When I am battling the thoughts to give up, I remember God’s Word. I remember He has a plan for my life. I remember He has thoughts toward me to give me a future and a hope—a future filled with hope! His thoughts are nothing like my thoughts. I remember that Jesus came to find the lost…ME! He gave me a chance to be saved. He brought me from death to life and I choose to live it for Him now no matter how challenging it is.

Thanks for listening. Whatever you are dealing with in life that has you wanting to give up, I pray that you will allow the Lord Jesus—the Spirit of the Living God to come into your heart and change it and fill it with love, hope, and peace. Will you let Him? You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. I am grateful that I did. I discovered that the hope of Jesus is worth living for and He is the One that keeps my heart beating and singing. He gives me the peace that I will never be able to understand. Peace in the midst of my troubled (broken) mind that keeps trying to convince me that my journey is meaningless. Peace in the midst of all the other lies that find their way in that want me to give up on the Hope of Jesus and die. I know that if I lose my hope, I will lose my life. So many lives that gave up hope are gone.

I can give up, or I can choose to keep hoping in Jesus anyway—to keep living in the habit of hope. I am choosing Hope. I am choosing life. I am receiving His Peace and I pray you will too.

I will end with more words that I am grateful for. They are words that Jesus spoke to His disciples before He ascended into heaven—His promise to each of us, “I am with you always…” incredibly comforting words for us to hold onto every single day.

Choose Jesus. Choose Hope. Choose Life. †

Jesus

My Time is Not Yet Here: Turning Triggers of Despair into Triggers of Hope

They say that suicide is not the answer to end the pain. Well, it is an answer, but it is the worst possible answer. I am pouring my heart out in this writing for those who are weary and may be thinking that death is the only way out of suffering. It is my lifelong hope and prayer, my grown-up Christmas wish, that what I share reaches the hurting. I pray that there will be something from this chance I am taking that will allow God inside to change your heart and change your life in ways you never thought possible. Even through my own painful battle that takes place in my mind every now and then, I believe with all of me, that life is worth living. I could not see and probably did not want to see this for years, but I can see it clearly now. Suicide does not end all pain. It only transfers even greater pain over to those left behind and I have seen it come with guilt and shame. I think it is one of Satan’s best weapons to hurt God’s heart. He does it by hurting God’s children to the point of hopelessness which leads to death.

I thank God that I am still alive to share my heart with you. My miracle sobriety continues. I am two months away from it being 8 full years and I praise God for that miracle that He continues in me. But I have noticed that the longer I am sober and learn to live for the Lord, the more I seem to struggle with triggers. I have discovered through my journey that others who commit suicide is a huge trigger for me. At first, I was ashamed by how it affected me. Especially after all the great and powerful things the Lord has done in my life. And before I was given the courage to write this and openly share it, the only person whom I had been able to share my heart with (other than crying out to the Lord) was my mentor who is also my pastor. I thank God for her. She knows that these triggers set me back a bit when I start to battle the old memories of pain and knowing what it is like to be tormented to the point of wanting to end it under my own terms.

My biggest trigger occurred when a colleague of mine lost all hope and committed suicide in October of this year. His death truly set me back. It was unexpected. It caused me to feel lost in the dark for a time. Although it was a short time, it felt too long. Thankfully, my mentor’s words of love and truth pointed me back to my God of hope. She reminded me that although some have not made it, I have. I am ALIVE. I have not become a victim of the thoughts that torment me on occasion. My faith and the growth of my relationship with the Lord is becoming stronger and deeper and is what keeps me from being overcome by the struggle. She is right. I am victorious. I am victorious with an extremely tender and broken heart that has a great desire to help others lean on God so they too can rise above and see the invisible that keeps me choosing life no matter what. Besides, I have learned that my time has not yet come. When I die, I want it to be in God’s appointed time, not mine. I love God too much to throw away this wonderful gift He went through so much to give. He sent Jesus to die so that I may live. I want to live! Yes, I would prefer to live completely healed on this side of heaven, but even if He does not heal me the way I think I want to be healed, my hope is forever in Him alone. It’s either that or going back to the black hole of despair that almost killed me. I am not going back.

My pastor prays that I would learn to turn these triggers of despair into triggers of hope and victory. I believe God is answering her prayer. I was given some amazing words through an Advent devotional called “We have found the King.” Through it God has given me a way to reframe those triggered destructive thoughts that sneak in and try to take me down. God is quickly changing my heart and the way I think and I must share this beautiful gift that came to me through the devotional.

The writer reminded me of the difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is fleeting. It is only a temporary sense of delight that fully depends on external things. Happiness is a feeling; joy is not. Joy comes from knowing.

Unlike happiness, joy exists regardless of immediate circumstances. In Philippians, St. Paul describes how joy not only exists in the presence of suffering, but is strengthened by it.

Joy is deep within. It is a gift from God that gives us peace and a calm assurance that the best is yet to come. Ah, yes…the best is yet to come. I believe!

Joy comes from knowing that Jesus cried out as he was dying on the cross, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” but that God did not forsake him. Joy is knowing that after the pain and sorrow of Good Friday comes the beauty of Easter morning and the promise of Resurrection.

Joy comes from knowing that God is in charge; knowing that as the present evil world becomes darker around us, God is still on the throne. No matter how we are treated, we experience joy when we trust in God.

Joy is the gift of the Christ child and the redeeming grace He brings. Hallelujah!!

May God’s truths that I have received and have just shared with you change your heart and mind like they are changing mine. Life in Christ is worth living. One great day, all this pain and suffering and all the evil will be no more. But we who are in Christ will live forever with our King. God said it, and I believe it and I pray you will too. “For God so loved the world (you and me!!), that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.

So joy to the world and joy to my soul, the Lord has come…forever. Holy Father, I pray that You would also fill my friends up with the joy that comes from knowing Christ, our Savior and King. Our Deliverer. I pray more hearts will know Your love and live. Amen.

Merry Christmas, beloved! ♥