All Posts Tagged: hope
As the deer pants after the water brooks,
so my soul pants after You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When will I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
while they always say to me,
“Where is your God?”
When I remember these things,
I pour out my soul within me.
Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted in me?
Hope in God, for I will yet thank Him
for the help of His presence.
I will say to God, my rock,
“Why have You forgotten me?
Why, my soul, are you cast down?
Why do you groan within me?
Wait for God; I will yet thank Him,
For He is my deliverance and my God.
Abraham went on hoping in faith, relying on the promise of God that he would become “the father of many nations”. With undaunted faith he looked at the facts: his own impotence and his Sarah’s barrenness. Yet he refused to allow any distrust of God to make him waver. He drew strength from his faith, absolutely convinced that God was able to implement His own promise. Romans 4:18-21
Many suppose that belief is contrary to reason, that to believe one must bury one’s head in the sand; you know, blind faith. After all, faith and facts don’t mix. Well, the story of Abraham and Sarah indicates otherwise (cf. Mechanics of Life). Note the words—“he looked at the facts.” The Greek word means: 1) to consider from the bottom to the top; 2) to concentrate by fixing one’s thinking; 3) to perceive clearly; and 4) to understand fully and closely. So, at least in the Manual faith looks facts squarely in the eyes; BUT ….
Consider the Law of Gravity, simplified. There’s a force that draws objects to the center of the earth … unless another object of equal or greater force intervenes to inhibit the downward thrust. If you throw a ball in the air, it will drop to the earth unless you catch it in your hands. Your hands act as a greater force than the downward thrust of gravity. Similarly, faith confronts facts with greater potency, rendering the facts weak, comparatively speaking.
These were the indisputable facts: Abraham was impotent and Sarah was barren. According to the laws of physiology the odds of having a child were ABSOLUTELY ZERO! “Yet Abraham drew strength from his faith, absolutely convinced that God was able to implement His own promise.” When Old Abe was confronted by the downward thrust of the facts (impotence and barrenness), he injected the promise of Father that “he would become the father of many nations.” The power of faith trumps the laws of nature (review Peter’s water-walking.) Please don’t think this vulgar or crude—it’s reality according to the Manual!—Abraham’s insertion of faith produced physical insertions for twenty five years!
As is often the case, if the facts of your life are exceedingly downward, please consider: “Darkness comes. In the middle of it, the future looks blank. The temptation to quit is huge. Don’t. You are in good company… You will argue with yourself that there is no way forward. But with God, nothing is impossible. He has more ropes and ladders and tunnels out of pits than you can conceive. Wait. Pray without ceasing. Hope!” (John Piper)
My God, my God, why have You abandoned me? Why are You so far away from helping me, so far away from the words of my groaning? My God, I cry out by day, but You do not answer—also at night, but I find no rest. (Psalm 22:1-2)
- Keith was rather young while the other, well, George was as old as me … and that’s ancient!
- Both were energetic extroverts!
- Both were enormously talented!
- Both were extremely industrious!
- Both suffered with chronic depression!
- Both walked the wasteland of despair never to return!
Sometimes reporters will offer a “full disclosure” statement before relating a story, acknowledging their personal relatedness to the news. So, here’s my disclosure … though perhaps not so “full.” Shortly after I retired from pastoral ministry I had a psychotic break; or, as Archie Bunker might say, I “cracked up!” Diagnosis: acute anxiety and chronic depression. I spent five days in lockdown at Pine Rest, a wonderful psych joint (I mean that sincerely!). I’ll spare you all the other details. Suffice it to say—I often wander in the wasteland of despair.
So, when I began the Basics of Life blog, I determined to do a little part in mental illness / health awareness via Mental Health Monday. My intention is to connect with those who identify with the words of the Apostle Paul: “We do not want you to be unaware the trouble that happened in Asia. We were under great pressure—so far beyond our strength that we despaired even of living.”
Secondly, I hope to shed a glimmer of light in the devastating darkness that hovers over mental illness. C.S. Lewis wrote: “Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and more difficult to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say ‘My tooth is aching’ than to say ‘My heart is broken.’”
By the way, the young man is Keith. From early childhood he was a part of our church fellowship. He became a talented carpenter. George was a seminary classmate and ministerial colleague for 25 years. Without exaggeration he was one of the most influential leaders in our denomination.
Tomorrow I will share both an inspiring testimony and positive news about mental illness research that the National Institute of Health is finding. Stay tuned! In the meantime note this word from Henri Nouwen: “The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing… not healing, not curing… that is a friend who cares.”
With deep empathy I offer this post to Gary, Camille, Dale and Bonnie.
Empowerment of the individual often leads to challenges in the hearts of those around. A move to rebuild may well be met with a move to tear down. One of the greatest challenges when you are rebuilding are the voices of opposition. They maybe the thoughts and feelings swirling around in your own mind, but they may well be the words from other people, some who are close to you.
Have you ever had others tell you that what you are wanting to achieve can’t be done, or its pointless. They want to keep you in a box that they feel safe with. I have come to realize that for every push forward in recovery there will be a push back—an energy that will want you to stay the same or retreat back further.
In talking with those who are on the recovery/rebuild journey they often come to a crossroads where they realize that others around them still define them by the box and the labels of the past. They are still treated like the ugly duckling rather than the glorious swan they are becoming. With any rebuilding the relational dynamics between ourselves and those closest to us change. Some don’t want to see this as it will actually force them to face themselves. When one changes it has a ripple effect on others.
Dr. Dan Allender said these words: “The moment your life begins to move, you will face the hatred of the kingdom of darkness, and often something of the envy of friends, family who do not wish your change to have any kind of influence on their lives. If my wife changes I am going to change one way or the other—either for good for ill. In the presence of significant transformation and healing no one can remain the same. There will always be consequences that will invite me to partake of a path always unique and distinct that God has for each person.”
In the biblical story of Nehemiah we find a man with a call to bring significant transformation and healing to the heart of his nation. You would think everyone would be in favor of such a mission, yet this was not so. “When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very upset, angry that anyone would come to look after the interests of the People of Israel” (Nehemiah 2:10).
Five Responses When you Meet Opposition
- Pray. This is a spiritual battle. Scripture is very clear that there is an unseen but real spiritual battle going on (Daniel 10; Ephesians 6:12). Not that we should “blame the devil” on every little struggle we have, but rather have an awareness that satan’s role is to “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10). One of satan’s key strategies is the use of distraction, to pull your attention away from what is truly important. Let your mind rest on Christ and who you are in Christ—loved, valued, forgiven, cherished.
- Lean into the reinforcing mesh. In my last post I talked about the importance of having a reinforcing mesh of God’s presence and a few good friends that will carry the light of hope. It is in these times of opposition and stress that we need to bind ourselves tighter and tighter around these rods of steel.
- Recognize that this may not be about you at all. The flak you are receiving may well say more about them than about you. Their fears, goals, dreams are being projected onto you. Seek to understand from them what your changes are stirring up in them but remember that they are responsible for themselves.
- Live in the now—this present moment and focus in on what you can do. It is so easy to get distracted and leave the rebuilding work when the heat comes on. I recently read this quote: “The brain takes its shape from what the mind rests upon” (Dr. Rick Hanson). Rebuilding your Mental Health involves the rewiring of the brain. What you rest your mind on, where you find it dwelling, will shape the rebuild of the circuitry.
- Keep your eye on the Compelling Vision. What is the vision that compels you forward? Perhaps one of the greatest gifts I have given to people who are rebuilding is a written note about who I believe God is rebuilding them to be. At times, when the opposition comes, they pull out the note and read the vision and imbibe the hope. When the opposition comes, know that you are not alone.
“There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. I’m on my way to get your room ready.” (John 14:2)
CAUTION: SUICIDE ALERT!
C. S. Lewis made this observation about human desire: “The Christian says, ‘Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.’” Paul agreed: “The desire to break camp here and be with Christ is powerful. Some days I can think of nothing better.”
In brokenness the human heart longs for wholeness in FATHER’S HOME! For the suicidal the voltage of “going home” is greater than the power to remain on earth. I would not presume to supply a rational explanation for such reasoning! My only proof is this: Jesus arose to prepare a home for the broken! Beyond and outside of that Gospel fact I have nothing to offer!
“Jesus’ program remains firm. He saves losers and only losers. He raises the dead and only the dead. And He rejoices more over the last, and the least, and the little than over all the winners in the world. The Gospel is the announcement that God finds us not in the garden of improvement but in the desert of death. It’s precisely from death that we are brought home.” —Jason Goroncy, in Hope And Homecoming
“This parable (Luke 15) is about coming home. It speaks to us about the nature of lost-ness, and about the necessity of experiencing lost-ness if we are to experience homecoming. As one writer put it, ‘Weary or bitter or bewildered as we may be, God is faithful, He lets us wander so we will know what it means to come home.’” (Goroncy)
“In Luke 15 we are given a picture of the nature of such a God, an insight into the purpose of history, and a glimpse of how history ends—of how your life ends and of how my life ends, and how the lives of those we love and of those who have made life hell for us, will end—with celebration, with a banquet, with the extravagant joy with which God welcomes the found and eats with the, … with homecoming.” (Goroncy)
Here’s a song that expresses what I’ve attempted to communicate—