What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Well, it caught up with me. I’ve got a winter cold or virus of some type. Stuffed nose, cough, low-grade fever, aches and pains. So I don’t feel much like writing a long article.
However, I thought I might take a moment to write some affirmations about myself. Basically, I’m a good person. I’m loving. I’m caring. I’m giving of my time and energy. I’m generous in spirit. I’m able to take into account others’ feelings and emotions. I’m able to feel compassion and sympathy.
I love God. I try to do things the way He would have me do things. I value God’s Word and try to put it into practice in my daily life. I don’t give up easily. Sometimes that can be a bad thing because I dig my heels in and don’t give up any ground in an argument. Sometimes that is a very good thing because it has kept me alive and on this earth even when there were times when I didn’t want to continue to live with the sadness I am feeling.
I’ve been told I don’t get emotional. That’s not totally true. I just do it behind closed doors. I’m feeling emotional right now, as a matter of fact. Maybe it’s the virus or maybe it’s the circumstances. But, whatever the reason, I will feel something and try to deal with the emotions in a positive, life-affirming way.
More affirmations: I’m relatively intelligent and usually a good problem solver. I value education. I value a good book. I enjoy a good story. I try to continue my education through reading non-fiction. I try to understand other people’s points of view. I’m open to new ideas. I’m willing to try new things.
So in spite of how I feel today – depressed, emotional, sick, lonely, unhappy – I am a good and well-rounded person worthy of living another day on this planet. Thank you for indulging in my self-examination and letting me remind myself of my good qualities. I needed that.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

His Love Never Ceases

I just recently finished reading through the book of Lamentations in the Old Testament. I had read it before so I was not surprised by the sorrow and destruction it talked about. Jerusalem was devastated and destroyed by the nation from the north (Babylon) because God arranged for that to happen. Lamentations clearly identifies God as the one who destroyed Jerusalem because of their sin and lack of repentance. Lamentations 2:1 says,
“How the Lord has covered the Daughter of Zion with the cloud of His anger. He has hurled down the splendor of Israel from heaven to earth; He has not remembered his footstool in the day of His anger.”
It goes on to say God was without pity and “has brought her kingdom and its princes down to the ground in dishonor.” Israel sinned and turned its back on God and His ways. So God destroyed them. This could be a very depression passage of Scripture, but there’s still hope. The hope is focused on by the poet of Lamentations in Chapter 3. The poet purposefully brings to mind the truths of God’s character that allow us to still have hope in times of distress.
Lamentations 3:19 – 26 highlight the poet’s perspective, which should also be my perspective:
“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’ The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”
When things seem to be totally downcast and full of distress, I can turn my thoughts to the character of God and His great love for me. I like the way the NASB puts verse 22: “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.” His love and compassion never fail me, even when it appears that everything is falling apart around me. That’s the truth of the situation. Even when everything seems like bitterness and gall, even when my soul is downcast within me, as it has been this winter, God’s love and compassion are keeping me alive. I can wait quietly for His salvation and trust in Him. That’s what I’m trying to do.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Psalm 22: Distress and Praise

As I read this Psalm today I noticed it was broken into two parts. The first part, verses 1 – 21 recounts various distressful situations David has endured. The second part, verses 22 – 31 lists the reasons and ways David praised God in the midst of his distress.
Some of the distresses as stated in The Message included:
            Verse 1: Dumped miles from no where
            Verse 2: Doubled-up with pain; tossing and turning
            Verse 7: Poked fun at
            Verse 11: God moved away and left David neighbor-less
            Verse 14: Every joint pulled apart
            Verse 16: Thugs gang up on him
            Verse 18: People take all his material possessions
            Verse 21: If God doesn’t show up he’ll be done for
I can identify with some of those things. I can at least figure out that David felt alone, abandoned, and apart from God. I’ve felt that way too. However, my response is not always the same as David’s response was. David turned to looking at all that God has done and will do for him.
David’s response to his troubles starts in verse 22:
            Here’s the story I’ll tell my friends when they come to worship
                        And punctuate it with Hallelujahs.
He goes on to say what he will include in the story in verses 23 – 31, including:
            Verse 23: Shout Hallelujah; He has never let you down
            Verse 24: He’s been there listening
            Verse 26: Down-and-outers sit at God’s table and eat their fill
            Verse 26: Everyone on the hunt for God is praising Him
            Verse 27: People are coming to their senses and running back to God
            Verse 28: God has the last word
            Verse 30 – 31: “Our children and their children will get in on this
                                    as the word is passed along from parent to child.
                        Babies not yet conceived will hear the good news—
                                    that God does what He says.”
I need to model my behavior and responses to my struggles and troubles the same way David did. So today, I shout Hallelujah! Today I recognize that He’s listening. Today I am thankful that He sits me at His table and lets me eat my fill. Today I come to my senses and run back to God. Today I will proclaim all the great things God has done and is doing for me that others will hear the good news and know that God does what He says. Today, no matter how I feel, I turn to God and give Him thanks for all He’s done for me and for all He will do for me in the future.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Psalm 21:13: God's Strength

Last week I talked about Psalm 21:1. This week I’m inspired by the last verse in Psalm 21, verse 13. It says,
“Show your strength, God, so no one can miss it.
            We are out singing the good news!”
Even in my depression I’ve been able to see God’s strength. He has shown it in so many ways in my life that I cannot miss it. As a matter of fact, I firmly believe that apart from God’s strength showing up in my life, I may not even be still alive.
There have been many times in my life when I’ve thought I would put an end to the suffering and pain my depressions have brought me. Yes. I’m talking about suicide. I’ve heard people, generally people who have never experienced the deep depression I have experienced, say that suicide is selfish. What they don’t understand is the severe desperation that a person considering suicide is feeling. It’s not selfishness that drives a person to consider a way out of the pain. It feels like the only way to relieve the agony of the unseen turmoil that is going on in a person’s mind and body.
However, in the darkest moments of my life, there’s been a little bit of hope that comes shining through. I don’t have an explanation for that hope. It didn’t come from inside of me or from my own thoughts and feelings. It has been supernatural. It’s been from God. He has shown me His strength in ways I could not miss. He has said to me, “Don’t give up. Don’t forget there is something more in this life for you.”
It’s not always immediate, but it always comes. The relief from the depression happens. The clouds lift and there’s new light at the end of the tunnel. I can’t pinpoint when that light shows up. It’s usually a gradual process. But without God’s strength, I don’t know if I would have had the patience to wait out the pain and turmoil. I don’t know if I would have seen the light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s because of His strength that I have made it through each episode of severe depression. And, it’s His strength that allows me to sing out the good news of a renewed hope. I will continue to try to sing out the good news even as I struggle through another round of depression. I know if I hold on long enough, His strength will become evident and I will not miss out on the renewal of hope.