Category: Depression

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 Hope Is God Alone (Even If He Doesn’t Save Through The Fire)

Scripture teaches us that it only takes a little faith to move a mountain. Well, I am grateful that I always have at least a little faith. Looking back over the past seven years of walking fully sober with Jesus, I truly believe that I have developed mountain moving faith. I have prayed and believed that God would move some mountains in my own journey and those mountains did get tossed into the sea – a mountain of alcohol abuse, a mountain of a cancer-causing virus, and a mountain of depression. I have seen God move mountains in other lives as well which is so awesome for a young Christian to see God answer prayers in such powerful ways.

Even so, there have been times where I have felt disappointed and maybe even a little shaken. I am sure we all experience this from time to time. Some of us grow stronger and closer to God, and some of us give up. I never want to give up. I never want to go back to a life of hopelessness ever again, so I keep pressing on even when life hurts. There was a time not very long ago when I prayed so fervently for a woman by the name of Peggy who was suffering from cancer. She had such amazing faith and had touched so many lives as a teacher. She was a Kingdom builder for sure. She was not ready to go. I heard her say so. She tearfully prayed for more time to serve the Lord. She knew my pastor and when she could, she would come a pretty good distance to visit our church a few times for prayer. Shortly after, she became too week to come anymore. I never saw her again. I did not personally know her, but I was honored to be one who got to place hands on her with other powerful prayer warriors taking turns praying. I will never forget that moment. When I touched her and spoke God’s Word of healing over her, I felt such a deep spiritual connection with her. After that morning, God put her on my heart to continue praying and believing, and that is what I did. My personal prayer sessions speaking God’s Word of healing for her were so powerful. Tears would stream down my face every single time and I would be thanking God that He had answered. I believed with all my heart that I would be hearing praises that God had miraculously healed her like we have heard for others. I felt like a little child who had no doubt that her Mighty God would hear and save Peggy from cancer. But God didn’t move the mountain. Not this time. I had received word that Peggy’s mountain of cancer overcame her and she passed away surrounded by family. I celebrate the fact that Peggy is now whole and with Jesus, but I would be lying if I said that it did not sadden me greatly that she was not healed on this side of heaven leaving behind her husband and family. I guess it really hurt because I had been so excited for that miracle that I had no doubt would come. And when it didn’t come, well, I do not think I need to describe any further how my heart felt at the time.

Now I could have let that stop me from pressing on in this journey of faith, but I am thankful for the strength that God gives me to keep pressing on no matter what comes. I think it will help me to remember that I am to be walking in His will, not my own, so there will be mountains that He chooses to leave unmoved. I have learned that nothing can get in God’s way for His purpose to be done, so I think I need to be okay when certain mountains do not move. Just because they seem to be in my way or the way of loved ones, it does not mean that they are in God’s way. At least, that is how it seems to me.

There are a lot of mountains – fiery health trials happening lately with people I love. I keep lifting them all in prayer knowing that God is able. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He can save every one of them through the fire with His mighty hand. But what if He doesn’t? I mean, He didn’t for Peggy, so what if He doesn’t for others that I pray for as well? Well, God is God, and I am not. I cannot know His plan, so, I will continue in faith and pray for healing. I will also pray for the strength for all of us, no matter what, to be able to say, “It is well with my soul.” Our only hope is God alone. Let us not forget what He did for us! (John 3:16) Amen?

While my heart was struggling with unmovable mountains and fiery trials, a Mercy Me song (Even If) was playing and really touched me. If you listen to the song, you’ll see that it inspired this writing from my heart. I hope it will encourage your heart like it did mine. It reminded me of the OT Bible passage in Daniel 3 where Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were about to be thrown into the fiery furnace for not worshiping the king’s golden image. They fully trusted Almighty God to deliver them from the fire, but stood strong in faith stating that even if He does not deliver, that they would not serve or worship the king’s false god. Wow. Super strong faith. They knew they had God on their side no matter what and had nothing to fear but God alone. That is the kind of faith I hope that I continue to develop. When we fear God, we need not fear anything else.

I dug a little deeper into this passage and read a Matthew Henry commentary and I love what he said about Daniel 3:17-18, and I hope that it helps you as it did me. Henry said, “God will deliver us either from death or in death.” Yes! It was no accident that I came to that commentary. I really needed to hear those words. It made me realize that Peggy WAS delivered after all. God delivered her from cancer and took her home to be with Him forever. She would have liked to stay longer, but she was not afraid because she knew where she was going. That is a beautiful truth and God will deliver every single one of His faithful ones so we also need not be afraid. I know we would like deliverance and healing on this side of heaven, but whether it is here or in heaven, it is a win-win for those of us in Christ.

If you are struggling like I was, I hope you will remember that the Lord is near the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34). It is okay to grieve the loss of our loved ones who leave us behind, but it is not okay to grieve like those who have no hope. We are going home to Paradise, to be with our Lord for eternity. We have the blessed hope of heaven and it is not wishful thinking kind of hope!

Oh, breathe on us breath of God, so that we will never die. Be blessed my friends and may God’s peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus whether your mountains move or not.

Psalms 34

Invisible Bruises: Just because no one can see them, it does not mean they are not there. It is time for you to stop suffering in silence.

It is absolutely amazing to me – how many people are mentally, emotionally, and/or verbally, abused by someone who claims to love them and the person on the receiving end suffers in silence and shame. The bruises on your heart probably feel impossible to ever fully heal. I know this because that used to be me. Well, I have a message for you…WE have nothing to be ashamed of and the bruises in our hearts CAN be fully healed.

Just because you are not getting hit, it does not mean that the abuse does not exist. I know a lot of us keep silent because if we do, it helps us to pretend that it is not happening. Too many of us are embarrassed to talk about it. I know I was, especially because I wasn’t getting hit. I give all the glory to God for helping me to escape before the hitting started.

I think that when we keep silent, it is like ingesting poison (just like harboring unforgiveness does to us). It is a slow process and it really does start to destroy us from the inside out. As I was approaching rock bottom with my depression and alcohol abuse over six years ago, I remember how dead my soul was. My shell still had a heartbeat and I was still breathing, but it was a matter of time before I finally found the right combination of pills and alcohol to finish the job. Thankfully, I was desperate enough to cry out to God and He heard me and rescued me! I believed I was not worth saving, but I cried out anyway and He heard me. I say this because I know without a doubt that there are others who are feeling this way too. You are listening to the enemy who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. The devil is a liar! I pray you will start listening to God’s voice and promises instead.

I have been free from that toxic relationship for quite a while now. The person I finally walked away from will probably never be able to admit or even see that he tormented me almost all the way to suicide. It is not up to me to convince him. I do not feel safe around him and God has helped me to be strong throughout this whole journey. I have learned to forgive him, which is wonderful freedom, and I have prayed for him. But just because I have forgiven him and pray for him, it does not mean I have to let him back into my life. I am grateful to know that.

You do not have to go through this alone. I have learned to surround myself with godly people who help me through the tough days of life. And the more I open up about this part of my life, the more I find that others understand because they have gone through it too! Wow. It is a blessing to have others open up too and it shows me that I am truly not alone and have NOTHING to be ashamed of. I am glad for the courage to write this today. I think someone is suffering greatly in silence at this moment and I pray this post will encourage you and give you courage to reach out to God and others and get started on a road of healing and many great things that you have never dreamed of.

So stop suffering in silence. Stop carrying shame that does not belong to you. Be encouraged. Start living today – God is waiting to help! He loves you more than you know! ♥

Praying for you, may you be blessed and find strength in God to help you break free like me. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

You can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens you!! ~Philippians 4:13