Tag Archives: peace

Faith for the Impossible

After working with victims of abuse for over twenty two years, one thing has become clear to me. Those with faith do so much better on the road to recovery than those without it. Perhaps you’re thinking there’s no way to have faith after you’ve been beaten down and told how worthless you are, or when you’ve been in an impossible situation with no power to change anything. Yet, scripture is filled with stories of impossible situations that turned around.

This morning 2 of those stories came to my mind. Actually, this verse came to mind: “Certainly there were many needy widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the heavens were closed for three and a half years, and a severe famine devastated the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them. He was sent instead to a foreigner—a widow of Zarephath in the land of Sidon. And many in Israel had leprosy in the time of the prophet Elisha, but the only one healed was Naaman, a Syrian.” Luke‬ ‭4:25-27

Do you remember these stories? Neither of the people Jesus mentioned had great faith— they just acted on what little faith they did have. The widow shared what she thought would be her last meal with the prophet, and Naaman reluctantly dipped himself in the muddy Jordan River seven times. The actions alone would not have resulted in miracles, but they both acted on the tiny bit of faith they had. They weren’t anything special. In fact, as Jesus pointed out, neither of them were Israelites (God’s chosen people), but as they matched their hope in God with action, God met them and overcame the impossible.

Are you facing an impossible situation today? Is there a glimmer of hope somewhere deep inside that God could work if you took a step in the right direction? If so, I encourage you to act on that hope. Don’t be foolish— make a plan (Prov. 15:22)— seek out wise and informed counsel (Prov. 19:20), but don’t let fear keep you stuck. God shows up for who act in spite of fear— the ones who choose to walk ahead holding on to that tiny mustard seed of faith. Faith isn’t a lack of fear, it’s moving ahead in spite of it, and putting your hope in the One who is bigger than the impossible.

💗Joy

Where Faith & Depression Meet

The first time I met with “Jennifer” she told me she was struggling with severe depression. As usual, I spent our first counseling session gathering information about her past, and wasn’t surprised to learn that she had experienced sexual abuse at the hands of an older cousin from the time she was 8-years-old until she was 13. When the secret finally came out, her mother told her not to say anything to anyone, but just to avoid being alone with her cousin. She wasn’t even sure if her mom spoke to her cousin’s parents, and somehow she was made to feel responsible for what happened.

For years Jennifer carried the shame of what happened to her. She grew up and married, but he turned out to be physically abusive, and by the time her son was 5 she was divorced. As her marriage was falling apart, a friend invited her to church. Within months of visiting the church, Jennifer fell in love with the One who suffered and died in order to redeem her soul. Her life was changed, and she felt peace like none she had ever known. Yet, five years later she was meeting with me because of depression.

As a survivor of abuse I could relate to Jennifer’s struggle. Getting out of the abuse was much easier than getting the abuse out of my head. It had warped my thinking, and caused me to believe lies about God and about myself. I found myself consumed with negative thoughts, and the more I thought about things, the more depressed I became. I wondered why God allowed the abuse to happen, and felt that my experiences had damaged me for life. It seemed as though I was engulfed in darkness, and suicidal thoughts plagued me. If  not for my children, I’m not sure I would be here today. But that wasn’t the end of the story for me. Misery drove me to scripture. Between my own private bible study, and a few solid group studies, I became determined to “cast down” the negative thoughts that overwhelmed me (2 Co. 10:5). I often tell people God brought me through an intensive period of supernatural cognitive behavioral therapy that eventually set me free.

Jennifer was looking for freedom from depression too, but when I asked her about her thought life, she just looked at me and said, “I really don’t think about anything.” That is the day I came up with the idea of keeping a “thought journal.” I asked Jennifer to set a timer to go off several times a day (especially those times when she was feeling depressed), and to write down what she was thinking about during those times. The idea was to write out any negative beliefs that were fueling the depression, and then to find scriptures to counter them. When I met with Jennifer a week later, I asked about her journal. She told me that the timer had worked, because she realized that she was constantly thinking discouraging thoughts. Even though she had been out of abusive relationships for years, her abusers still had power over her. Deep below the surface she felt she was unworthy of God’s love. Even worse, she doubted it altogether.

The solution for Jennifer, and for anyone struggling with negative emotions, is to identify beliefs that are contrary to God’s truth. I often tell ladies in our support group to print out specific passages of scripture, and to say them out loud any time the destructive thoughts come. I also believe that singing along with praise music is powerful, because it makes God bigger than our problems. In his presence there is fullness of joy (Ps. 16:11), and depression will have to flee. I used to imagine myself being held by the Mighty Warrior as he quieted me with his love and rejoiced over me with singing (Zep. 3:17). There is nothing more healing than being in his presence. Those who make the effort to find him in the midst of their pain will not be disappointed. He gives us “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Is. 61:3). 

God is a healer! I have never seen him fail to restore those who have tenaciously determined to believe his truth. It’s not a quick fix, but it is a powerful one. Nothing gives me greater joy than to watch the faces of God’s precious children learning to embrace the freedom he offers. If you are plagued by depression or anxiety, please know that he offers “liberty for the captives” (Lk. 4:18), even as you learn to “take every thought captive” to his truth (2 Co. 10:5). Identifying false beliefs about God and about yourself, and replacing those thoughts with his promises will heal your broken heart. Ultimately, his peace, that surpasses human comprehension, will protect your mind from worry and your heart from despair (Phil. 4:7).

 

If you read this article, and are wondering where to begin, please contact me  for a list of helpful scriptures.

Getting Over Myself

Lord, I give You my day, and ask your forgiveness for all the days I’ve wasted on myself. Life is so much better when I take the time to seek You. You lead in amazing ways, and I get so much more accomplished. I start too many days seeking my own agenda first. Today Lord, I ask that You would stay in the forefront of my thoughts, and that I would see the world through your eyes. So many people are living in darkness and despair. Your love and grace are available to restore their lives, and yet too often I am silent. I am more worried about getting a negative response than I am about leaving them in their despair. How completely awful! Please forgive me. Help me love others the way You love me—enough to set aside my own agenda and become obedient to the point of sacrifice (Phil. 2:1-8). I know that when I lay down my life for You, I receive more abundant life. There is peace and joy that I do not experience when I seek after my own kingdom rather than yours. Give me wisdom to find the best use of my time daily.

Let my highest goals be to love You and others more than I love myself. It seems self-love comes naturally, loving You has become natural, but I still struggle with loving others. Yes, I know what 1 John 4:20 has to say about that! The thing is You have always given me far more grace and love than I deserve. It completely blows my mind. People do not do that. They are harsh and judgmental. (Yes, I know I am too sometimes). As I think about those people I struggle to love, I know I do not wish them anything except a complete surrender to You. However, sometimes in my position as judge and jury I determine how that should look. I think they need to suffer a little bit, and that is not my place to determine. Help me to flow in your abundant grace today and help me remember that it is your kindness that leads us to repentance. Remind me often that I am not the judge, and to leave justice in your competent hands. I want it here and now, but I know that the entirety of my life is but a speck in the whole of eternity. Somehow You have a beautiful plan that uses evil for good. I see glimpses of it so often on this side of eternity, but one day I will see it in full. How I long for that day dear Lord! I long to see You! I long to set aside the constraints of this life and enter into true life. Until that time, I know You have a plan and a purpose for me. I am so grateful to be your child! So unworthy, and yet You (the only perfect One) love and receive me in spite of my complete imperfection. How amazing and wonderful You are! Help me live in a way that is worthy of the goodness You have bestowed. I know my only hope for doing that is being completely dependent on You. That is the place I choose to start this day. Amen

I hear you little one. When you pray anything according to my will I hear you, and I will answer (Jn. 14;14, 1 Jn. 5:14). I stand ready to empower you to love others with the love I give you. It is something you can never muster up on your own, so look to Me. The more you see Me for who I truly am, the more you will love Me. The more you see yourself as you truly are, the more you will love others. That is because you will see that apart from my grace they are really no different from you. Listen for my voice as you go through this day. That will require quietness on your part. Do not rush to give an answer, but wait and listen. If you ask for wisdom, I have promised to give it to you (Jas. 1:5). However, you must ask expectantly with your mind grounded in my Word. Wisdom comes when you seek my glory over any human agenda. Although you will have trouble in this world, you do not need to despair, because I enable you to overcome (Jn. 16:33). I will cause you to triumph as you seek me (2 Cor. 2:14), and I will give you joy that the world cannot begin to understand. Rejoice in Me as I rejoice in you (Zeph. 3:17). Rest in my love and in my presence today. As you do, nothing will be able to stop my good and perfect plan for your life.