Sunday, December 26, 2010


I have suffered depression for most of my life.  I was depressed even before I knew what depression was.  I'm better now.  I'm on some medication which helps.  This is a tough time of year for people who suffer from depression.  The winter is gray and cold and you can go days without seeing any sunlight.  You know what I'm talking about if you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  The end of the holiday season can cause a letdown.   Sometimes I feel deflated.  Something that helps me when I am depressed is to thank God for what he has done for me.  This isn't easy when you are depressed, but if you can force yourself to mentally list all the blessings you have in your life, it can help ease the depression.  Another thing you can do is to praise God.  Not just praise him for what he has done for you, but praise him for who he is.  I find that if I can put my focus on God instead of myself, it will help my depression.  Listening to worshipful music helps to put your focus on God.  My favorite is Third Day.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

God's Blessing

Last week, I was alone in my room praying and meditating.  All at once, I began to feel an incredible peace well up inside me.  I can’t describe what an incredible feeling it was.  All the fear and the pain of the past were gone and I was filled with peace and joy.  I felt as if God was in the room with me.  I was completely overwhelmed by the love of God.  All I could think was, “Why me?”  Why should the almighty God of the universe condescend to care about me?  I could almost hear him say to me, “Because I love you.  You are my son.” 
The next day when I looked back on this experience, I was tempted to think that God had blessed me because of my obedience.  I had been “good” that day and so God rewarded me.  After I thought about it awhile, I realized that was wrong.  There is nothing I can do to earn the favor of a perfectly holy and a perfectly righteous God.  Jesus led the perfect life and died for the sins of the world.  Do I presume that I could do anything that even remotely compares to that?  But because Jesus clothed me with his righteousness, I have become his brother and God’s son.  When God chooses to bless me as he did, it is out of his own goodness and mercy, not because of anything I have done.  God hands out his blessings according to his purpose which is far beyond my capability to comprehend.  I suspect there will be times in my life when I feel that I’m being faithful and yet there will be no blessing from God that I can see.  There will be times when I will feel that I am the lowest sinner and yet I will be surprised by blessings from Him.  I am convinced that there is nothing I can do to earn favor or blessings from God.  He gives them to me freely.    

Monday, December 6, 2010

Patience in Suffering

I was reading James 5: 7-12 – patience in suffering.  James was writing about people suffering under rich oppressors, but I think we can apply these verses to any suffering we go through.  In this life, we are going to go through periods of suffering of different kinds; some more severe than others.  Over the last year, I have personally gone through the worst emotional pain I have ever experienced in my life.  Theologians with a lot more education and a lot more brains than me have been pondering for centuries the question of why God allows so much suffering  to occur and I am not about to try to solve that one here.  But I can comment on what I have experienced in my own life. 
In Genesis chapter 50, Joseph spoke these words:  “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”  Joseph experienced a horrible series of events in his life, but God turned it around to bring good, not only to Joseph, but to many other people.  Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery and he ended up in Egypt.  I’m sure he had no idea what God had in store for him.  The situation probably seemed hopeless.  As things seemed to be getting better, Joseph as thrown in prison for a crime he did not commit.  It took years for Joseph to come through these trials and see God’s plan unfold.  Joseph had to be patient and trust in God. 
When I was in the midst of the worst of my pain, I could not conceive of any good that could possible come of it.  Looking back on it now almost a year later, I can see that it was the best thing that could have happened.  I am a different person now:  stronger, closer to God, more at peace.  God did not cause this pain I experienced, but he allowed it.  What others meant for evil, God turned around for my greater good.  It has been my experience that God rarely reveals his plan ahead of time.  He does not routinely grant me glimpses into the future to assure me that everything will turn out OK.  He gives me just enough light to show me the next step or two on the path that I should take.  When I am suffering, I have to turn the situation over to God and put it in His hands.  I have to be patient and trust Him for the outcome.  I may not see the way to go right now, but when it is time, God will reveal to me the path I need to take.       

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Wandering in the Desert

Have you ever felt like you were lost – just moving forward with no direction?  Have you ever felt stuck – stuck in a job or a city or a relationship that you knew was not right for you but you just couldn’t seem to get out of it and move forward?  I have felt like this recently and it made me think of the story in the Bible of the Israelites wandering in the desert. 
God miraculously brought the Israelites out of Egypt.  They saw his power first hand as He brought Pharaoh to his knees with the ten plagues and provided for their escape with the parting of the Red Sea.  They personally witnessed miracle after miracle that lead to their deliverance, but when God lead them into the desert, all they could do was complain.  He supernaturally provided water from a stone and food fell from heaven every day, but all they could do was whine about how much better the food had been in Egypt.  I think this is why God had them wandering around for 40 years.  They had lessons to learn.  They had to grow and change before they could enter the Promised Land.  They had to learn to be thankful no matter what the circumstances before they could move on to better things.  They did not learn the lessons God was trying to teach them and so they could not move on.  If I remember the scripture correctly, none of the Israelites of that generation entered the Promised Land – their children inherited the land that God had promised.  God brought them right to the border of Canaan.  All they had to do was cross a river and they would finally have their dream.  But spies came back from scouting around Canaan and reported that there were giants in the land.  The Israelites became afraid and did not want to enter the land.  Because of their lack of faith; because of their inability to trust God, they never saw their dream realized.  It was given to their children instead. 
I think I have been wandering in the desert.  I want things to be different in my life, but so often all I do is complain.  I complain about my job.  My coworkers aren’t working hard enough.  Management is making bad decisions.  I don’t make enough money.  I would like to have a new job, but I don’t appreciate the job that God has already provided for me.  Maybe I haven’t learned the lessons I need to learn.  Sometimes I don’t give my best effort because I think the job is beneath me or because I think they don’t pay me enough.  Is this the right attitude to have?  Would I feel comfortable giving my child something of value if I see that he does not properly care for what I have already given him?  Should I expect God to give me something better if I am not grateful for what he has already provided?  If I am going to cross the river into something better that God has in store for me, I need to be thankful and be a good steward of what He has already provided. 
To be clear, I do not believe that God is punishing me for complaining or not being a good employee.  God loves me and I am his son.  He loves me even when I am negative and ungrateful.  But as a loving Father, he knows that it is important for me to stay in school until I have learned the lesson.  Once I have learned it, then perhaps I can graduate and move on to something more. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Peace in the Midst of the Storm

My life has never been in more chaos than it is in this moment, and I have never been more at peace. I am a son of God and Jesus is my brother. The Holy Spirit is my strength. I am not a strong man; I am not a good man. But in my weakness, God reveals his strength. I rest in his peace knowing that I am held gently and permanently in the palm of his hand. Although the storm rages around me and the waves threaten to overwhelm, I can rest easy with the assurance that with one word, Jesus can calm the winds and still the seas. I have nothing to fear.