Category Archives: Suffering (Depression, Alzheimers, Illness)

Announcement: Depression Blog

This weekend I felt a nudge by God to start a blog regarding depression.  If any of you suffer from depression or know anyone who does, I’d be happy to have you join me at depressionthroughthepain.wordpress.com. 

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Blessings in the Thorn

2 Corinthians 12:7-10    “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.  Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.  And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

We don’t know what the thorn in Paul’s flesh was.  He doesn’t tell us.  We do know that he prayed three times for it to depart from him, but that didn’t happen. 

I suspect that we all have a thorn in our flesh.  If it hasn’t affected you yet, it likely will in the future.  Mine is depression.  Although I believe it probably was lurking during my teenage years, it hit full force when I turned 30.  I was buffeted with excruciating agonies to the point of believing I could not bear it any longer.  Yet, God was with me all along.  He did not give me this cross, but He allowed it, and for that I am grateful.  When I was crumpled over, His wing became my refuge. (Psalm 91)  When I was about to fall, He was there to lean on.  When I couldn’t rise, He lifted me. 

I wouldn’t wish that torment on anyone, but I am thankful for the thorn of depression. That experience and continued bouts with depression on a much lesser scale bring me to my knees before Him.  Through this assault, I learned that Christ is my Savior and that I can trust Him completely.

There are other gifts in your thorn.  God is full of mercy and wants us to be likewise.  Your thorn gives you greater mercy for others struggling with their thorns.  Also, God does not want us to live in fear.  Surviving the thorn with Him by your side, you realize that fear no longer holds the power that it once held over you. He is trustworthy, and we can—should– give Him our all.

What is the thorn in your flesh?  Depression?  Asthma?  Cancer?  Schizophrenia?  Let it be used to His glory.  He will carry you through if you turn to Him.

 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written:

‘For Your sake we are killed all day long;
 We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 8:35-39)

To God be the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

Promises in Suffering

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Alzheimer’s disease has been on my mind this past week.  On Monday I received the annual call from a university which is doing a study on my paternal family. They asked a few questions to check on the status of my memory.  It only took about 15 minutes, and I came through with flying colors, as expected.  Alzheimer’s doesn’t usually affect my family until approximately age 80, so I’ve got a few more decades to go. 

Both of my grandmothers died with Alzheimer’s.  My paternal grandmother was one of nine children. Six of them developed Alzheimer’s.  My maternal grandmother was one of three sisters who lived past age 20.  Two of them also succumbed.  A 2:1 ratio is not good. 

Two years ago my mother’s sister died with the disease, and now my father’s sister has been diagnosed with it.  We watch for signs in family members in order to get them the help they need as soon as possible. 

Alzheimer’s disease causes the loss of memory.  Completely. Eventually those with the disease lose the ability to navigate familiar surroundings, eat, go to the restroom, or any of the other things we take for granted.  Both my grandmothers ended up in the fetal position before they died.  It’s a cruel disease.

Assuming that no cure is found within the next few decades, odds are good that I will get it, too.  Yet, here, now, I can rest with that knowledge because God has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)  Regardless of what goes on, He will be with me all the way.  Even if my brain becomes so gnarled that I can’t remember Him.

God says in Isaiah 49:16, Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.”  Though I may forget, He will not.

No doubt, when a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s comes, there will be much distress and many tears.  That’s when the body of Christ comes alongside to remind one another of His promises.

The forgetfulness will last but a moment compared to eternal life with Him.  John 3:16 tells me, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Then we will all proclaim together, when all the tears are gone, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”  (Revelation 5:13)

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A Brief Reflection on Sorrow and Pain

Sorrow is inescapable as long as death and sin are in this world. Sometimes you’re very clear on the source of your pain while at other times it is an inexplicable melancholy that settles upon you.  We all experience times of sorrow.   The only question is how to deal with it.

Scripture can guide us as we work through our distress.  The theme of sorrow is woven throughout its pages. While every biblical figure dealt with the issue to one extent or another, Job is considered to be the classic example. 

Despite feelings of intense pain, Job remained faithful to his Lord as he struggled to understand why devastating events had besieged him. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there.  The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)  He tells his wife in 2:10, “’Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?’  In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” 

The Psalms can also bring great comfort.  Draw near to the Lord; He is your shelter: He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day.” (Psalm 91:4-5 NKJV)

The follower of Jesus Christ can be reassured by His word to us in John 14:1-3.  “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”

Revelation 21:3-5 says that “the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”  

Let us proclaim along with Job, “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth.”  (Job 19:25-26)

Jesus Christ is our Hope and our Redeemer; He will make all things new.  Praise be to our God!

I’ll conclude with the following poem (later a hymn) written by Jane Crewdson in 1860:

I Thank Thee

O Thou whose bounty fills my cup,
                                                                                               With every blessing meet!
                                                                                                                   I give Thee thanks for every drop—
                                                                                               The bitter and the sweet.

I praise Thee for the desert road,
                                                                                                  And for the riverside;
                                                                                                                       For all Thy goodness hath bestowed,
                                                                                            And all Thy grace denied.

I thank Thee for both smile and frown,
                                                                                          And for the gain and loss;
                                                                                                                   I praise Thee for the future crown
                                                                                                 And for the present cross.

I thank Thee for both wings of love
                                                                                            Which stirred my worldly nest;
                                                                                                      And for the stormy clouds which drove
                                                                                         Me, trembling, to Thy breast.

I bless Thee for the glad increase,
                                                                                                And for the waning joy;
                                                                                                                  And for this strange, this settled peace
                                                                                     Which nothing can destroy.

Come to Jesus

I’d like to share with you a beautiful hymn. It captures what it means to live the Christian life, every moment in communion with the Savior. I found it posted on youtube.com by Claire Francisco.