Tag Archives: depression

2 Kings 18-19; 2 Chronicles 32; Psalm 67; 1 Corinthians 9

After all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah. He laid siege to the fortified cities, thinking to conquer them for himself. (2 Chron. 32:1)

This past eighteen months have been a struggle for me—to say the least. I entitle this chapter of my life, “The Great Depression.” Before that time, I was going along with life, serving God where he placed me. I was happy and thought I was doing just fine. But I noticed I was finding less and less joy in life. Something was eating at me. Clinging to my faith, I shrugged it off with bible verses and reminding myself of the faithfulness of God and all He has done in my life. Then my brother died. That was it. I was done. I went into a spiral downward.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said. (2 Chron 32:7-8) NIV

I “fought the good fight” for a while but it felt like a vast army was marching against me. All the lies of the enemy, all the shame from my choices, and all the losses from my past were trying to take me under. I still had to work, I still had to live my life. But that isn’t what I wanted to do. Every day was a struggle to get out of bed, to put on my “happy face” and go out into the world. I was going through the motions of living life but inside I was an empty shell. I was building walls around my heart until I felt convicted by God that I was even building walls against Him. I knew there was a greater power in me and I cried out to Him.

10 “This is what Sennacherib king of Assyria says: On what are you basing your confidence, that you remain in Jerusalem under siege? 11 When Hezekiah says, ‘The Lord our God will save us from the hand of the king of Assyria,’ he is misleading you, to let you die of hunger and thirst.

15 Now do not let Hezekiah deceive you and mislead you like this. Do not believe him, for no god of any nation or kingdom has been able to deliver his people from my hand or the hand of my predecessors. How much less will your god deliver you from my hand!”

18 Then they called out in Hebrew to the people of Jerusalem who were on the wall, to terrify them and make them afraid in order to capture the city.

Oh my! Our enemy is good at throwing everything we’ve ever done back at us. I have long since repented of so much of my life that happened before I knew Jesus. But at that time, in that state of mind, his voice was so much louder than God’s. I was in full-fledged battle. Until I got to the other side, I didn’t even realize it! His lies are so subtle and they try to twist God’s promises. The words I heard were spoken in my own language:  “loser, loner, failure; you’ll never change, there’s no way you’ll ever stop that habit”. When you feel there is no hope, that is when fear sets in! However, we know that perfect love casts out fear.  And Perfect Love dwells within me.

20 King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz cried out in prayer to heaven about this. 21 And the Lord sent an angel, who annihilated all the fighting men and the commanders and officers in the camp of the Assyrian king. So he withdrew to his own land in disgrace. And when he went into the temple of his god, some of his sons, his own flesh and blood, cut him down with the sword.

22 So the Lord saved Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all others. He took care of them[c] on every side.

God answered my prayer and saved me from my own “Sennacherib”. He sent me to a wonderful Christian therapist. Together we called upon the Holy Spirit to guide us on our journey to Truth. We had strongholds to break, lies to replace with God’s truth, people to forgive, and acceptance that God truly loves me. In fact, He gave me a new name—“Dearly Loved”.

He used this depression to take me to a deeper place of trust in Him. I have been praying for years for His healing of deep wounds and in His perfect timing He allowed it to show me the places I had shut off to Him. Those deep wounds were causing anxiety that I did not understand but He has since revealed. We are not finished our work yet but I can honestly say the depression has gone and the fog has cleared from my head. It has certainly given me an understanding of the battle people face and I am sure He will bring people into my life to encourage with the truths He has taught me.

16 For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! (1 Cor 9:16) NIV

LORD, I am so grateful to you for hearing my cry for help. You are so patient with me and have allowed me to work through so many deep wounds at my own pace. You replaced lies with truth, mourning with joy, and anxiety with peace. You have been my Father, my Protector, my Teacher, my Comforter, and my Friend. I know I am dearly loved by You! Give me the strength to continue this journey. In Jesus precious name I pray. Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Filed under 1 Corinthians, 2 Chronicles, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan

2 Kings 25; Hebrews 7; Amos 1; Psalms 144

Lord, why are people important to you?

Why do you even think about human beings?

People are like a breath;

their lives are like passing shadows. Psalm 144:3-4 (NCV)

There are times in my life when I suffer from hopelessness. In those moments, my world as I know it comes crashing down around me, dreams shatter and desires smash. And, like most people, I begin questioning “why”.

When I feel hopeless, I experience a sense of depression. I wonder if I am valuable to anyone, loved by anyone. I start thinking about what could have been, fantasizing about greener grasses. It is easy to listen to the lies of the enemy when I am vulnerable, the whispers of worthlessness, insinuations of rejection.

…Now a better hope has been given to us, and with this hope we can come near to God. Hebrews 7:19b (NCV)

Before I knew Jesus, my hope was based on my aspirations and on my relationships with people who surrounded me. Then, when the Lord revealed Himself, arms wide open, waiting expectantly for me to walk into His embrace, I began to see that my hope needed to be grounded in Christ. I realized the importance of centering my expectations on the Everlasting, Always-Loving God.

…Because Jesus lives forever, he will never stop serving as priest. So he is able always to save those who come to God through him because he always lives, asking God to help them.

Jesus is the kind of high priest we need. He is holy, sinless, pure, not influenced by sinners, and he is raised above the heavens. He is not like the other priests who had to offer sacrifices every day, first for their own sins, and then for the sins of the people. Christ offered his sacrifice only once and for all time when he offered himself. Hebrews 7:24-27 (NCV)

When I put my hope in the fallible things around me, in mutable thoughts of the future I will inevitably be disappointed. When I put my hope in other people – family, friends, and those I don’t even really know – I am often hurt, my heart disillusioned and feeling more lonely than ever.

Happy are those who are like this;

happy are the people whose God is the Lord. Psalm 144:15 (NCV)

But, when I draw near to God, placing my hope in Him, I am able to give thanks in all things. And, when I choose to bless His name, especially when circumstances are challenging, happiness arises from His gift of sufficient grace. I remember my heavenly identity and the sacrifice Jesus made for me on the cross. I find joy in my salvation. I discover that I’ve become strong despite my weakness and my faith has been fortified.

Yesappa, Thank You for being my hope, my salvation. Thank You for thinking of me and counting me as important, valuable, and worthy of Your Love. Thank you for Your steadfastness and Your grace. Thank you for drawing near to me as I draw near to You. Thank You for Your many blessings over my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Filed under 2 Kings, 66 Books, Amos, Hebrews, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms

2 Kings 20; Hebrews 2; Hosea 13; Psalm 137, 138

The years of the Sometime-Struggle were a slow descent into depression. It was a constant and tiresome treading to keep my head up. At times, it sapped my energy and my hope. It chipped away at dignity. An enemy placed a sign on my back I couldn’t read, but I could feel it there. It was hurtful and heavy; it grew heavier over time.

When I talked to a seasoned Christian about my trial, she said, “Think of all the suffering Jesus went through. He was beaten and mocked.” Her response did not help me, though I would not have dared to say such a thing. I was probably a Christian for fifteen years at that point, but I had no real understanding of the person of Jesus Christ outside of my salvation. Rooted in rocky soil, I was withering.

I tried to work out the equation: Jesus suffered = I should be able to suck this up (x guilt at still feeling powerless)/there are worse things in the world.

The conclusion was always the same: FAIL.

I picked up my Bible five years ago, and God met me right where I was. These years of pursuing God showed me he has actually been pursuing me.

God moved us here a couple years ago. One day, I met a woman while she was working in her yard. In that first meeting, she told me things I couldn’t believe I was hearing. I said to her, “I think we have a similar story.”

Later, I sat with God and marveled. There are times I wish I had not met the people who had inflicted such pain in my life, but not at the expense of the lesson. When I met this fellow sojourner in her yard, without a doubt I knew if I had a do-over, I would have gone through the Struggle again, so that she would know she is not alone.

Jesus says, “I love you like that.”

And in my heart, I know he does. He is the leader in love. He does his refining work when we’re under pressure. He teaches how to love God, and love a neighbor.

Yes, by God’s grace, Jesus tasted death for everyone. 10 God, for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that he should make Jesus, through his suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation. Hebrews 2:9b-10 NLT.

Lord, your suffering wasn’t so I could have a sense of strength in myself, to do life on my own. It was to show me love, to bring me into relationship with you, and to teach me how to love. (And it was so much more!) There is no greater love than yours, that you would lay down your life for your friends. Thank you for the Sometime-Struggle, the lost years that were never really lost. Thank you for loving me, and walking alongside me so I would know I am not alone.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan

2 Samuel 22; Galatians 2; Ezekiel 29; Psalm 78:1-37

David sang this song to the Lord on the day the Lord rescued him from all his enemies and from Saul. 2 Samuel 22:1 NLT.

The day we loaded up the kids’ play set in our real estate agent’s box truck, my husband set the radio to my favorite station. I had never driven a big truck like that, and it was intimidating to me. He turned it around so all I had to do was put it in drive and go. We were starting a new chapter of our lives in many respects. When I turned the corner that led to our next house, a song came on the radio: Move, by Mercy Me.

I laughed at the soundtrack life offered up.

That was the year I picked “worship” as a focus word.

That year, God taught me a lot about worship.

When I couldn’t think of a song to praise him, he gave me song. And when I couldn’t find the voice to worship him, he gave me tears. He showed me how to worship not just with my lips, but with my life.

There were other songs during that time I walked in the valley. And when I hear those songs today, I straddle a line of before and after, and I can praise God for his faithfulness, his provision, his protection, and his mercy.

I hung out with David a lot during that time. His mess, his faith, his fear, his cry–all taught me about worship and how to do it from the pit. My cave looked different. And my enemies did too. But my God is still the same: rock, fortress, savior, refuge.

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior;
    my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
    and my place of safety.
He is my refuge, my savior,
    the one who saves me from violence.
I called on the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
    and he saved me from my enemies. 2 Samuel 22:2-4 NLT

Alleluia.

Father, I learned so much those years in struggle and depression. Thank you for walking beside me.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ruth 1; Acts 26; Jer. 36, 45; Ps. 9

Jeremiah was in prison, but had a message to get out. He dictated the message to Baruch, who then took it and read it aloud to others.

16 When they heard all the messages, they looked at one another in alarm. “We must tell the king what we have heard,” they said to Baruch. Jeremiah 36:16 NLT.

(Not everyone appreciated this message. King Jehoiakim burned the scroll.)

Paul stood before King Agrippa with the opportunity to speak his defense. He told his message to a full room.

19 “And so, King Agrippa, I obeyed that vision from heaven. 20 I preached first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that all must repent of their sins and turn to God—and prove they have changed by the good things they do. 21 Some Jews arrested me in the Temple for preaching this, and they tried to kill me. 22 But God has protected me right up to this present time so I can testify to everyone, from the least to the greatest. I teach nothing except what the prophets and Moses said would happen— 23 that the Messiah would suffer and be the first to rise from the dead, and in this way announce God’s light to Jews and Gentiles alike.” Acts 26:19-23 NLT.

While hearts may not have been convicted in that moment, Paul left an impression.

32 And Agrippa said to Festus, “He could have been set free if he hadn’t appealed to Caesar.” Acts 26:32 NLT.

Naomi and Ruth were both widowed. Naomi told her daughters-in-law to go back to their mothers and start over. But Ruth stayed, pledging loyalty and companionship to Naomi.

15 “Look,” Naomi said to her, “your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods. You should do the same.”

16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. 17 Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” 18 When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing more. Ruth 1:15-18 NLT.

Testimony can affect a community, a full room, an individual.

I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart;
    I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. Psalm 9:1 NLT

Our dog ran away yesterday, and my kids were crushed. I searched through neighboring back yards. We got in the car and drove around. No dog. So I prayed out loud in the car while we searched. Prayed that God would watch over our dog and return her to us unharmed. It was a risky prayer–there are many acres of forest around us, and high-speed roads. So many what-ifs … (Thankfully, a few hours later a nearby farm owner spotted our dog swimming in their pond and called us.)

I praised the Lord the drive home, with stinky pond dog in the back seat.

I know, too, sometimes answered prayers don’t look the way I thought they would. Years of struggle and effort and striving were fruitless. I sat at night at the Lord’s feet and cried to him. In that season, the sadness and disappointment and confusion brought me closer to the Lord. In those circumstances and through his word, I began to know him better. Trust was strengthened. When others abandoned, the Lord did not.

10 Those who know your name trust in you,
    for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you. Psalm 9:10 NLT.

God uses the happy endings, and the not-so-happy endings. In any case, I will testify of something, and that testimony will speak to others.

Father, thank you for examples like Paul, Ruth and Jeremiah–people who had a message to share, whose lives and messages still influence today. Help me to be mindful that my words and actions send a message too.

Courtney (66books365)

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Deuteronomy 18; Psalm 105; Isaiah 45; Revelation 15

When I read these verses, I don’t think of Cyrus the Great and a massive empire. I think of a farm field that shines golden from a sunburst through the clouds; I think of a flock of birds in flight–that look like a sheet shaken in the wind; I think of a woman who’d gotten bit by a dog in front of a (former) house whose knock at my door brought  a word of encouragement from God; I think of a good cup of coffee and socks on my feet.

And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—
    secret riches.
I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord,
    the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name. Isaiah 45:3 NLT

I didn’t know how people could thank God for trials that came their way–not when it felt crushing and oppressive … not when the waiting was accompanied by doubt and a growing depression … or when it seemed the bottom dropped out in a numbing free fall. I didn’t know how to thank God for that. But I sought him daily, for any sign that he was there–and it was the closest I had ever walked with him. Each of these little things, gratitude in the every day, secret riches–treasures hidden in darkness.

I am the Lord, and there is no other.
    I create the light and make the darkness.
I send good times and bad times.
    I, the Lord, am the one who does these things. Isaiah 45:6b-7 NLT

I would understand what it meant to be hated. What it meant to be powerless. What it meant to be lonely. What it meant to be mocked. What it meant to surrender. What it meant to persevere. And how would I learn any of that in only good times? I would learn how to walk by faith, to trust in God, to hope. And in my weakness, he would reveal power.

“What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator.
    Does a clay pot argue with its maker?
Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying,
    ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’
Does the pot exclaim,
    ‘How clumsy can you be?’
10 How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father,
    ‘Why was I born?’
or if it said to its mother,
    ‘Why did you make me this way?’”

11 This is what the Lord says—
    the Holy One of Israel and your Creator:
“Do you question what I do for my children?
    Do you give me orders about the work of my hands?
12 I am the one who made the earth
    and created people to live on it.
With my hands I stretched out the heavens.
    All the stars are at my command.

I am years away from that time. Healing didn’t come overnight, but rather as a result of painful steps forward in a spiritual rehab. I am still (and often) thankful for a good cup of coffee and socks on my feet. And while it took time, I learned to be grateful for the trial.

Father God, those dark days were full of you. I am closer to you and know you in such a personal way, that I otherwise wouldn’t. Your word comes to life to me in ways that go deep. I am so thankful.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Isaiah, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Old Testament

Joshua 7, 8, 9; Luke 9:37-62

Do you ever get sick and tired of hearing about injustice, murder, child molestation, domestic violence, drug addiction, genocide, greed, and other more insidious sins like ambition, slander, gossip, cursing, and bullying? Do you pray that God will bless everyone and forgive them all? Or do you feel powerless in these situations to institute change?

There is a story in Joshua in which Achan is the only one in the whole army of Israel to take and hide gold and silver items found among the enemy.  When it is determined that he is the one who did this, he finally confesses.  The result is that he and his wives and his children are all stoned and then burned to death.  There is definitely no chance of passing down to another generation from Achan the temptation to steal.  Do you think consequences were harsh back then?

As I try to accept why the women and children are killed, I think of the couple who were going at it in their apartment recently.  When I say going at it, I mean the man (a longtime alcoholic) was beating his wife with a broom.  By the time I reached the door to bang on it, the wife had somehow gotten the broom and was landing a few blows of her own on him.  When she heard my knock, she fled out of the door and sat shaking on the patio.

Thinking about them makes me shudder at what their children saw growing up.  What are they are like as adults today, and what addictions or violence might they be perpetuating on their own children?  Compassion and concern for this family sends me to my knees in prayer.  Yet, the rational side of me says that the man will be drinking tomorrow and in another week or two he and his wife will have another knock down drag out fight.  So what is the use of intervening.

“Oh, faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you and put up with you?” answered Jesus Christ rhetorically to the scribes and to the disciples.  Their efforts had failed to heal the boy who had a demon spirit which caused him to convulse,  foam at the mouth, and throw himself down.  Even Christ appeared tired of the unbelief and testing from the crowd.  He had been in their midst doing miracles and healing, yet the people still did not believe.  How tired He must have been at trying to change their hearts.

I wane darker still.  Good Friday 2000 years ago was the beginning of what appeared to be a lost cause.  Christ was nailed to the cross as His family, friends, and enemies waited to see what would happen.  The skies grew dark, the earth split, and then He just died. I cannot imagine what His disciples thought at that moment and the hours that followed.   “We might as well go home; there is nothing that we can do.”

Sit with this feeling for one more day.  Today we meditate on the fact that Jesus was truly dead in the tomb.  At that time there was no hope for anything good to come out of the crucifixion.  Today, like then, we grieve and mourn our losses, our impotence, and our failures to stop the evil in this world, in a neighbor, in ourselves.  If Friday night was shocking, Saturday is numbing.  Who understands that Sunday is about to burst forth with an eternal truth that will recreate our faithless and perverse hearts?  Search the Scriptures and learn the hope that is yours and mine.   See Luke 24 for the rest of His story.

Janet

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Joshua, Luke, New Testament, Uncategorized