Patiently packaged within pain
is the gift of possibility.
Unopened or opened—content remains the same.
My future is secure in the gift-giver.
Oh Lord, help me tear away the wrapping of fear, bitterness, and despair
and gasp in awe at your glory.
My passion—tangible hope secreted within the gift of suffering.
I am learning to crawl onto
the altar of trust,
and die to self.
Oh God, refine me.
In the flames of suffering,
nothing else matters but You.
Burn off all that hinders
until thoughts and actions renew.
And I remain
whole and pleasing to You.
Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.
Matthew 10:29, KJV
Not even a sparrow falls without God’s knowledge and we are more precious than they. Oh, one day, I pray that I embrace this truth with the depth and security of one who trusts God no matter what I experience in this life. I’m not there yet. As the poem reflects this was a tear-streaked day. I have witnessed God’s care over and over, but I still don’t understand why he allowed Jonathan to die by suicide. The bottom line, is I just want Jonathan here.
Turning My Page
I wanted your heart to heal from
the world’s unrelenting fists of hatred.
I tried to shield you, but their blows penetrated
to marrow. Broke bone and spirit without pity. They
meant to crush you—rob identity.
Rearranged home until
you no longer recognized love or belonging.
I thought if I cradled your heart
enough with my love, that somehow, someway
you’d emerge from despair.
of your rhythm was never mine. Your
soul was formed and shaped by a God
who knit you together in my womb.
On my knees I plead that His will be
done in your life—from beginning to end.
“DO SOMETHING!” I screamed at a
God who was not deaf to my desperation.
He comforted. He still comforts,
but I will not pretend to understand
why He didn’t rescue you.
Your future—my future—was never
mine to determine. And I pray
one day I walk this path knowing
that not even a sparrow falls to the earth
without God’s knowledge.
Your life mattered, and heaven
mourned you even deeper than I.
Turning Your Page: When Sparrows Fall to Suicide
You may have sparrows who have fallen in your life. Your mourning may be deep and waves of emotions swamp you. Courage! May the promise of God’s care sustain you, even when the feelings simply are not there. You are precious to God. Your loved one was and is precious to a God who was willing to suffer with and for you. As you think about Easter consider the following:
“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners” (Romans 5:6, NLT).
“When He saw the crowds, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36, BSB).
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father” (Matthew 10:29, ESV).
Lord, this sorrow is too great. Carry it for me. Your tenderness and mercy towards my loved ones exceed my own and not one of them falls to the earth without your knowledge and mourning. Amen
Healing among the Tombs emerged from time studying the demon-possessed man described in Mark 5. I wrestled with and even hesitate to post anything in this arena. I have edited this intro repeatedly, but a wise friend suggested, “If you could tell your audience anything, without hindrance, what would it be?”
I would tell you:
There is hope, no matter the reasons for your mental health struggles.
We have an enemy called Satan who seeks to separate us from the love of God in any way he can.
As Mark 5 shows, nothing will ever hinder Jesus, not even a legion of (approximately 6,000) demons.
We need to be as equipped by the Holy Spirit with discernment of the needs of those around us.
We fight the spiritual battle with scripture, allies, prayer, fasting, and by knowing whose authority we speak.
Many are terrorized by despair right now and I can’t just advocate for the physical fight.
The people of the town had tried everything to subdue the man. Nothing in this world could save or relieve him of his torture.
He made his home among the tombs and was so violent that he broke through chains repeatedly. It seems that no one could possibly help this man. Had they given up? How did he come to be possessed? Did others bring him food? Did he have a family? Who chained him? What was the man’s family feeling? They may have even been the ones who chained him so that he would stop his self-harm.
The bottom line.
It took a divine encounter with Jesus to free him.
It took a divine encounter with Jesus to stop my self-harm and place me on a different path.
We have an enemy seeking to destroy us all and it is a spiritual battle as well as a physical one. I have witnessed spiritual attacks firsthand. I can’t pretend the problem will be only solved with physical solutions.
This man needed Jesus. I need Jesus to stand against a spirit of despair that has led to over 48,000 suicides in the US. He will turn the tide, and my prayer is that you and I can be a spark of hope.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can make your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world’s darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Turning My Page: Among the Tombs
Forgotten, I greeted you from the remembrances. My home is hollowed from wealth, ready to entertain kings and demons. You crossed the unclean threshold of my grave, your royal robes billowing in the sea sworn breeze.
A crown, only seen by our eyes, testifies to us who you are. Naked, we claw with rocks at our putrid vulnerable flesh, mutilating your earthly jewel. We’ll make you unrecognizable too. Rip the flesh off God.
My God, why have you forsaken me?
I screamed for release from day and night horror. While they cried out to remain fast. I was a scarred lamb within, and a roaring lion without.
Mighty Samson would not tame we beating beasts.
But You, the Son of God, entered my tomb and knocked the breath out of me. What man chained you commanded freed. Clothed in righteousness, I now cling to you.
I am a demoniac commissioned to share the truth of your love for mankind.
Only God raises the dead.
Turning Your Page
You may have a loved one wrestling with mental illness. Whether demonic in nature, physical, or spiritual is not for us to determine. Only God can do so. Yet, God gives authority and discernment for man to cast out demons. Jesus used scripture to fight Satan; we can do the same.
Start with prayer. Ask God to equip you with His Holy Spirit’s guidance.
Begin listing out scriptures that speak about the spiritual battle we fight.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
Lord, I acknowledge that I feel ill-equipped to catch glimpses of the heavenly battle, yet you have chosen to open my eyes to the unseen attacks of Satan. Father, train me from head to toe to trust your will and shut the mighty lion’s mouth that seeks to devour our world! Amen
Freedom starts with hope. Realizing the power of trust, belief, and faith, inherent in the word has kept me reaching out and allowing others to reach in no matter what crisis comes my way. I have been struggling lately. Sometimes I forget to keep my hope in Jesus and start looking to others or my own ways of self-medicating. These are moments. Despair has an end and knowing that I can turn from sin and embrace the truth of God’s promises, come what may.
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
Romans 8:20-21 ESV
Turning My Page: Freedom Starts With Hope
I have struggled to write for months, and the excuses have piled up.
My house is a mess
I’m not sleeping
My physical health is deteriorating
Grieving my grandmother
I am a burden to others
This week, the Holy Spirit interrupted my unconscious mantra and reminded me that I have a vast vocabulary–start with one word. Moving beyond writer’s block, depression, or any other block in my life starts with HOPE.
I may not see the fruits of my hope right away, but the seeds exist. I write one word, and then another, and another and before long I am looking back at the obstacle rather than having it firmly planted in front of me.
My hope in all things is found in Jesus Christ, so yesterday and today, I confessed my depressed state and tuned my heart to my Savior’s voice through scripture.
Worked on memorizing Romans 8
Prayed for my family who is grieving the loss of our grandmother
Acknowledged I am substituting food and mindless activities for the comfort of Christ in my grief
Went to bed and trusted that God would give me the needed rest
Set healthy boundaries with my children
Chose a few small ways to attack the mess of my home
One of the first things the Spirit of Despair attacks is the healthy habits I form.
Notice my list above. I stopped having time in scripture. The house was a deep hole of undone chores, so why try. I avoided grief through food and TV. While these things give me temporary relief, they will never give me lasting help or draw me from the pit of hopelessness because I will always need more and more of those things and accomplish nothing by escaping through them. They do not feed me, mind, body, and spirit.
I know this because at age twenty I almost succeeded in taking my own life. That moment was the cumulation of all my attempts to deal with life’s hardships and pain by burying it and not pressing into hope. At that moment I recognized, rightly, that nothing in this world would make me feel better, but did not press into hope in Christ until the following year.
Only then did my life begin to look more hopeful. I started recognizing Christ died for all of the hardships I experienced and He would faithfully take all experiences and use them to lead others, and offer hope when others can’t yet see the potential. Placing hope in Jesus Christ meant my ultimate failure was not an option. No more throwing in the towel. I do not do this perfectly, but when my footing slips I gain it back more quickly and easily because hope has become the pattern of my life rather than the exception.
Turning Your Page
Freedom starts with hope.
That hope does not disappoint. You may not yet see the fruits of pushing back against the doubts or feel anything will change. Hope is powerful! It gives you space and opportunity to discover resources, mankind to reach in and help, and develops muscles of trust. We will get to the other side of our experiences because nothing separates us from the love of Jesus (Romans 8:28). Nothing and no one will ever be able to steal that freedom from you.
What are some of your favorite promises in scripture?
Look at the definition of the root word of depression and compare it to the definition for hope.
Journal about the difference and similarities between the two.
What are some antonyms of each?
Pick an antonym of “depress”, such as rejoice, and begin practicing daily.
Lord, I want to cease spiraling into despair. Help me to look up from the pit and see that all things are possible through you. I’ll hold on until they happen as you promised. Amen
No one plans on unwrapping depression during the holidays.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1 KJV)
Depression is a gift not easily returned to a store. I say gift because, as I work through despair I also discover my capacity to fight it.
Twenty-two years ago depression became a training ground for my faith. I hoped for what I could not yet see. I stretched weak, underdeveloped spiritual muscles. And survived attacks from the enemy. Beauty emerged from the ashes of my life.
We don’t have to have it all together to survive Christmas. But, we do have to have certain habits in place that are not optional. I am conditioning to be fearless and embrace discipline, compassion, and determination. Like a drill sergeant encouraging failure, depression stirs instead, my will to live.
Grief doesn’t take a hiatus, and physical pain may have no relief. The strain is constant, but we also experience joy. We can hope, remain open to new possibilities, step outside of our own thoughts, and engage the world. Not based upon feeling, but upon the basic way, humans were created. We were built for relationship. Based on that understanding, isolation is not an option.
Below is a Depression Survival Kit that I use on a regular basis. These habits help me to get through and even gain new ground through holidays.
Feel free to comment on anything that helps you to get through the holidays.
1-2 scriptures to read on a regular basis, call to mind when thoughts spiral
List of safe people (of the same sex) that I can call in case of an emergency
1-2 old traditions I will do (not based on feeling)
1-2 new traditions I will create with family, friends, strangers
Go to Christmas events
Signal designated departure friend to aid in a smoother exit
I don’t have to do all events
Stay engaged with the community (not an option)
Volunteer to help others
Encourage someone else who is struggling
Allow 1 or 2 people to take you out of your comfort zone
Laughter is good medicine (welcome humor)
Set goals and take steps to be as healthy as you can
Extend grace to yourself and others
My prayers are with you as you find joy this Christmas.