John 16:33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
I woke up to the tune of “Day’s Like This” going through my head. Not a good sign. When I entered the church this morning I found myself scanning for Jonathan. It was hard to worship, even though I was excited to hear from the book of Daniel. I was so weary when we got home that I laid down and napped.
When you grieve, or suffer depression, there are simply days that don’t feel right. But ironically, as I looked for the lyrics to the song stuck in my head–having little to do with my circumstances–I discovered that Van Morrison took the phrase and turned it on its head. His lyrics warn against getting too attached to the good days, because bad days will happen and they can derail you if you aren’t prepared (love Morrison’s take on the phrase).
Jesus prepared the disciples for his death. He said, “Don’t get so attached to the good days with me you forget, in this life you will have many trials.” Too often we Christians try to portray becoming a believer as a smooth ride, but it isn’t. “I’m hanging with Jesus. It’s all good.” But it is not all good. At least not if you plan on digging in the trenches of faith. Sometimes I don’t feel like singing, praying, reading scripture, fellowshipping,or witnessing. Good that Jesus conquered the consequences of my darkest days before I ever took a breath!
When I came in this evening, after weed-eating and mowing I put my arms out like a zombie and asked for hugs from my kids and husband. They scattered with laughter. It felt good to overcome the grass swamp in my backyard. The rain had kept us from mowing all week and with no end in sight to the rain, it was as dry as it was going to get. More than that, I needed to work hard to snap out of my downcast spirit.
There are days like this dear friend, but Jesus has overcome the world!
Isaiah 61:1-6The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners . . .
Feeling attacked today! My entire family awoke with some sort of physical ailment, my husband’s the most serious. What is it about our family that makes the enemy is so oppressive? Is that I’m talking to you? Is it that we are taking a stand against his demonic forces? Is he that threatened by hope, by you readers turning your own pages!?
If Satan (he who shall not be named), the enemy of all that God has created can grasp us in the pit of despair, especially our children, what chain reaction does he cause? As I study depression I see again and again the path of men and women who chose to offer hope. Abraham Lincoln suffered with debilitating headaches, struggled with depression, abuse, and incredible loss. Yet he chose to turn his page again and again. “A tendency to melancholy . . . let it be observed, is a misfortune not a fault.” He writes to a friend. Winston Churchill called his depression the “black dog”.
We are in a dangerous place when we turn from fighting for life to assisting death. Death will come, none of us can stop that, but as I drove home the other night, with the darkest of thoughts hounding my broken heart, a single thought shimmered in my darkness. What does living do, that dying does not? Living means my children smile another day, living means I write these words to you and offer hope in the midst of your darkest moments. Living means I shout from whatever platform that I am given. “I will not go quietly into the night!” So I turn the page.
Today is hard, but you, Lord, give me enough to be present with my husband and children. To comfort them, to bind their wounds, and offer hope to those plagued by darkness. There is a declaration, a painting, war that needs ended, and a soul that needs hope. You, reader, are that person. Keep turning your page.
Yesterday was intensely hard from the moment my eyes blinked open, and today is not. That is the strange thing about grief, it doesn’t always have a rhyme or reason in its approach, it just is. Days like yesterday are happening less and less, but they sap the life out of me. It is the feeling that I cannot go on in this reality. Have you carried the weight of those days?
They are very dangerous times for those of us who battle depression. Impulsiveness can lead to self medicating the pain in some form or fashion. While my impulsiveness has matured through disciplined practice, it has not lost its voice. So what to do in such moments?
1. Let others help. Don’t battle alone. Took the kids to a play date with a friend.
2. Seek out laughter. It is good medicine. One word… trampoline!
3. Cry. It is okay to mourn. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)
4. Keep away from sharp objects. This is crucial when impulsiveness tries to back door its way into depression. Slam that door shut by removing the option for hasty decisions.
5. Pray. The Lord will never leave you, nor forsake you. That has given me more strength to make it through the hardest days; days my own will power cannot sustain.
6. Be thankful. Thank you for your prayers, for reaching out into my darkest hours. Lord, thank you, when I cry out, you hear my plea and give me your strength in my weakness.
(As an after note. My mom just called to see how I was doing. She reminded me that yesterday was the day I put my son in the ground. I never consciously acknowledged the significance. Maybe there is a rhyme and reason for the intensity of my grief yesterday.)
I’m angry today. Angry that you aren’t here laughing with me.
Lord, I cry out to you! Fill my heart with your love. I need you, the heartache is too much!
Galatians 5:1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
“We should have fireworks on Easter!” A friend declared as we discussed Colossians on Sunday. We all laughed, but she is right. Christians have a freedom given to us that no law, no country, no philosophy and no religion can ever take from us. That is something to celebrate! Even if the United States were to crumble and our ‘Independence Day” be no more, our freedom comes from a cross and our God sacrificing himself for us so that we no longer have to live under the tyranny of sin.
So the question is, do we live in that freedom? Can you imagine any slave, once given their freedom, choosing to go back to that slavery? Yet we Christians do it all of the time. If Paul is having to tell the Galatians to live in the freedom, chances are good they were choosing to go back into the yoke of slavery. In this passage Paul mentions circumcision (belief that the law through circumcision saves us), sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, and orgies. The church is fresh from the resurrection and is choosing to return to things had enslaved them before their salvation. And the church of today is just as susceptible to returning to slavery. The rate of divorce is just as high in Christian marriages as it is in secular. The church is filled with back biting, grudges, idols, strife, jealousy, sexual immorality, fits of anger, dissensions, divisions etc. How in the world can we model freedom of Christ to an unbeliever if we keep returning to it when we don’t think God is meeting our desires?
This week I came face to face with some of my own slavery. I sat there cross armed and anger boiling inside me. The person across from me was revealing to me some idols she saw me worshiping. I’ve got news for you, idols aren’t just statues we place on our mantle. They are anything that we place above God, and anything that we are willing to sin to achieve.
For me, one idol is that I can somehow keep my two little ones safe. On the surface it is a good desire, but if I’m willing to sin to meet these desires then I’m not living in the freedom of the cross. At the core I don’t think God is capable of keeping them safe so I attempt to be God for them. Beneath every motive for sin is a belief that God will not meet my needs and desires.
Another idol lay hidden beneath the statement “no one will ever hurt me again”. One of the characteristics of Christ that I wrestle to accept and emulate— he didn’t fight back. He was spit upon, falsely accused and did not defend himself. This is a major strong hold for me. I keep having the same conflict over and over because self-preservation is my idol. “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:25)
I don’t have to live chained to idols. I can have freedom by keeping in step with the fruits of the Spirit.
The fruits of the Spirit (freedom) are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. That deserves some fireworks!
1 Corinthians 7:21
2 Corinthians 3:17
Wonderfully captures the way that I feel today!
On this day you are still God.