Tears to Joy

Tears to Joy: March 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

Taking out the trash

Last week as I was taking out the trash, I decided to put it in my van and drive it up my driveway on my way to meet a friend for dinner. After dinner I opened my car to the most horrific smell. Agh!!! Oh no I didn’t! I forgot to take the trash out of the car. The bad thing was that we were 45 minutes from my house and I still had to go to Home Depot before I could go home. Well needless to say, by the time I left Home Depot the smell was pretty rank and if that wasn’t enough, I had to buy mulch. Mmmmmm, the smell of rotten trash mixed with cypress. Arghhhh. I thought I would be sick right then and there. I rolled down the windows and tried not to gag as I started the trek home.

Then a peculiar thing happened. I realized that I no longer smelled the trash. Oh it was still there all right but I couldn’t smell it anymore. Then it hit me like a brick! This is exactly how sin is. It creeps into our lives and before we know it, things that used to disgust us no longer bother us – television shows, music, movies…and the list goes on. In that moment, I prayed and asked the Lord to help me not become desensitized to sin; I want to hate the things He hates.

I got home that night and would you believe that I drove into my driveway, got out of my car, unlocked my house and BAM! It hit me. That blasted trash was still in my car. Frustrated, I trekked back to the car and took it back up the hill to the place it deserved – THE CAN!

The next day when I got in the car, I was assaulted by the worst odor! While the trash was gone, its scent lingered. My daughter and her friend complained about it for quite some time. Again, God reminded me of my sin. Even when I confess my sin and find forgiveness, the consequences remain. Oh may God have mercy on us and teach us to walk in the light and leave behind our trash! I jokingly call my daughter the “trash patrol” and ask her to help me not to do this again. Likewise, I am asking the Holy Spirit to be the trash patrol in my life and show me what I need to toss out!


Friday, March 19, 2010

Christians and Depression

Recently a good friend asked me to write a post for her blog concerning Christians and depression. I have decided to copy that article here for those who may not be following her blog. I encourage you to check out Melody's blog by clicking here.

What does the Bible have to say about living with depression? Can a Christian be depressed? Many years ago, I began wrestling with this issue. My husband, a missionary, was struggling with depression and many of the pastors we knew and loved told him to just “snap out of it” or told him that if he had enough faith, then it would go away. I learned that Christians can and do get depressed. Just as becoming a Christian does not give instant physical health to a person, it also does not guarantee instant emotional health. Many Christians suffer from chronic depression; they are ashamed of their depression and feel that there must be something wrong with them spiritually, or else they would be enjoying the “abundant life.” Regardless of the cause, there are times when God allows Christians to struggle in depression and the constant pain leaves many disillusioned. Paul’s thorn in the flesh is a good example of God allowing suffering in the life of a believer. We don’t know what Paul’s thorn was, but he pleaded with God to remove it and God refused. Was this due to a lack of faith on Paul’s part? I really doubt it because God used Paul in incredible ways; God used the thorn to keep Paul dependent on Him.

Why is it that so many Christians believe the Christian life should be not struggle free? Jesus warned in John 16:33, “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage: I have overcome the world.” People should not be surprised by life’s struggles but often when trials arise, men and women look for somewhere to place blame. Job’s friends continually told him that his hardships must be due to sin in his life. This was not the case; God wanted to prove that Job’s faithfulness in the midst of heartache.

The Scriptures are full of examples of godly men and women who struggled with hard times. They were not all suffering due to personal sin. In John 9, Jesus and His disciples saw a blind man. The disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind? Jesus answered, ‘It was neither that this man sinned nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” The man was born blind so that God could show others His greatness.

Christians are commanded to take up their cross daily and follow Him. Carrying a cross is hard work. For millions of people, that cross is depression. Sometimes depressed believers struggle to understand why God would allow the hopelessness of depression to overtake them in spite of their faith. Depression can be a spiritual blessing, although an unpleasant one to experience. Depression often forces people to cry out to God. Millions are pleading with God to take away their depression, and at times, God refuses (like with Paul’s thorn). How can those who are depressed find hope to endure? According to Paul, “tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope: and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit.” God’s sovereignty and His Word offer hope to believers who are affected by depression.

All that said, does that mean if a person prays enough, reads the Bible enough and has enough faith that the depression will go away? First, we must discover the root cause of depression. Is it a medical or a spiritual condition? There are various opinions on this issue. Basically, I believe depression can be seen as three things: a symptom, a reaction and a disease. All types of depression need treatment, but the treatments vary according to the source of the depression.

The first category views depression as a symptom, more specifically a direct consequence of sin. The depression that Jonah experienced after God showed mercy to Ninevah is a prime example of this. God’s compassion “greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry.” Jonah was extremely selfish; he wallowed in self-pity which led him to despair to the point that he begged God to take his life.The answer to depression that is a result of sin is repentance. The Psalmist said in 32:3-5 that when he kept silent, his bones wasted away and God’s hand was heavy upon him. When he acknowledged his sin to God, he found forgiveness and deliverance. If the depression is a symptom of sin, once that sin has been confessed, the depression will often lift. In such instances, the depression is a physical manifestation of a spiritual problem.

A second category of depression is reactive depression. Reactive depression occurs when a person’s life circumstances have caused a person tremendous loss, suffering or pain. Often the pain seems unbearable and the person may become depressed. Dealing with reactive depressions are often difficult because it involves changing one’s thinking while their circumstances remain the same. Counseling may be effective in helping people with reactive depression. Grief is an example of reactive depression. When a person experiences loss, he or she may experience a period of depression; this is a normal, but painful reaction to life circumstances.

The third category views depression as a disease. When the depression is not due to any specific events or circumstances, a person may have a depressive disorder and should consult a physician. Medication and/or counseling may be needed. The depression could be due to a chemical imbalance or it may be symptomatic of some other health issue. If the depression is long lasting, and you don’t know why you are so down, you should see a doctor (when possible, see a psychiatrist because they have a better understanding of psychiatric drugs).

How does someone who is depressed find light in the midst of the blackest darkness? Where is hope when life’s circumstances seem hopeless? There are numerous Biblical examples of men and women that struggled with times of despair. There are profound insights for modern believers who face depression that can be found by examining the responses of these men and women. By examining several Biblical portraits, depressed Christians can find hope to endure their own personal circumstances. The Scriptures are full of examples of godly men and women who struggled with bouts of depression. Moses, Elijah and Jeremiah all dealt with forms of reactive depression. Their recovery began when they recognized and submitted to God’s sovereignty. When they were reminded that God was in control, they became hopeful.

God is not unaware that at times His children face depression. The depression is not without purpose. While the sufferer may not understand the reason for his hardships, he can find peace in knowing that God is in control. While the sufferer may not understand the reason for his hardships, he can find peace in knowing that God is in control. While reading God’s Word and trusting in His sovereignty may not alleviate the symptoms of depression, it can offer tremendous hope. If you are a Christian and you struggle with depression, pray and ask God to show you which type of depression you have. If you still don’t know, see a doctor or a counselor for help.



Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

Yesterday Jorjanne tried out for the Kiwanis talent show. Its crazy because I was so nervous for her. My palms were sweaty and I found myself holding my breath as she stood in front of the judges and sang “Happy Little Working Song” from Enchanted. She did a great job and made her mommy proud. One of her best friends, Sarabeth, also tried out. Last night as we were saying our bedtime prayers, Jorjanne prayed, “Lord, thank you for helping me today at tryouts. I hope I make it, but whether I make it or not, please let Sarabeth make it.” Tears filled my eyes! In that moment, I was so very proud of my little girl. It didn’t matter if she made it in the talent show or not. I couldn’t be more proud of her than I was in that moment. Her prayer gave me a glimpse into her heart and I was humbled by what I saw. Lord, teach us all to love our neighbors as ourselves.

(By the way, she made the talent show :) )


Friday, March 12, 2010

Depression vs. Grief

When a person experiences great loss, grief is a very healthy and normal reaction. There are times when grief can trigger depression. However, when the sadness is severe enough to disrupt a person’s life, it becomes depression and would be considered a mental illness. Talking to a trusted pastor or counselor can help a person to discern whether his or her sadness is normal or if depression is beginning to take root in their life.

Naomi is an excellent example of someone whose grief could have turned into depression because of life’s circumstances but it did not. Death had taken her husband and her two sons, leaving Naomi with no other choice than to return to her homeland. In Ruth 1:13, Naomi told her daughters-in-law that “the hand of the LORD has gone forth me.” Naomi discouraged the girls traveling with her; after all, God seemed to have it out for her. Despite Naomi’s words, Ruth solemnly swore to follow her anyway. Once they reached Bethlehem, Naomi changed her name to Mara because the Almighty had dealt bitterly with her. Naomi means “pleasant” whereas Mara means “bitter.” If God was in control of everything, didn’t that mean that He was to blame for all the bitter things she had experienced? If God loved her, why would he have let these things happen?

Have you ever been in a place when all you could cry out to the Lord is “Why?” When Michael died, I was overcome with grief. Life as I knew it had ended. How in the world would I go on? I did move on, one day at a time. The same was true for Naomi. While Naomi experienced great hardship and sadness, she did not despair. She made a plan to return to Bethlehem. She kept going; she did not give up. She was uncertain what she would find in Bethlehem, but she knew God was with the people there. She may have known her hope would come from the Lord, but she also blamed Him for her current troubles. She blamed God for emptying her life and making her bitter. Ever been there? Ever felt angry at God because of the blow’s life’s dealt you?

Its crazy how we can believe in God’s sovereignty and His goodness with our minds, yet our emotions can roar with anger toward Him at the same time. “Why God? Why me?” I must have asked myself this a hundred times, after all, I’d given my life to serving Him. Now what did I have to show for it? My husband was dead and I was left behind as a single parent with no job. Was I angry? You bet I was!

While Naomi saw God as sovereign, she failed to see His grace. By the end of the book of Ruth, Naomi came to see the merciful side of her Creator, but in the midst of her suffering she could only see his wrath. God had a plan to not only take care of Naomi, but also to use Ruth in the lineage of the Messiah. Had Naomi’s sons not died, Obed would never have been born. God had a purpose in Elimelech’s death; it was not in vain.

I can honestly say today that Michael’s death was not in vain either. God has taught me so many lessons that I would have not learned otherwise. I too have come to see God’s grace in the midst of my own personal pain. God continues to use Michael’s death to touch others and to shape me. He has not only restored my joy but He has multiplied it.

If you find yourself overcome with grief, hang in there. Take things one step at a time and know that your loved one’s death was not in vain. God has a purpose and plan for everything and He is Good and Gracious. You may not see it now, but He never changes. Hope, my friend. Hope!


My Story

I must say that my life has been quite the journey. It started out pretty simple: small town girl, loved school, and loved life! As a child, God grabbed hold of my life and called me to salvation and I’ve never been the same. In college, my life was radically changed as I began to study God’s Word. I came to realize that my life had meaning and purpose.

While in college I met an amazing man and we later married. We have one beautiful daughter and she is the apple of my eye! Together, we served as missionaries and we were living life on the mountaintop! Then gradually, over time, my simple little world became very complex. Michael, my husband was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Our lives became a continuous roller coaster due to his rampant mood swings. After battling this illness many years, it eventually caused Michael to take his life. You can learn more about our struggle by clicking here .

I’m happy to say that this is not the end of the story. Even in my suffering, God had a plan. I began praying asking God to use Michael’s death even more than He used His life. God has and is continuing to do this. I am a different person today than I was four years ago. God has turned my weeping into laughing, and my mourning into dancing! I am learning what it means to walk by faith and I have a passion to minister to those who are hurting. I have a Master’s degree in Religion and I am currently pursuing a PhD in Professional Counseling as a result of life’s journey. God has increased my joy and given me tremendous hope for the future. I pray that through this blog, God will use His story in my life to give others this same hope!


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Last week my daughter came to me with a serious look on her face. "Mom," she said. "Do you weigh in the 100s?" I laughed and answered, "Yes honey, I do." With a gasp, she replied, "WOW! That's a lot!" A few days later a friend of mine came to visit and she said, "Jorjanne, I weigh in the hundreds, too" to which Jorjanne responded, "Oooo, I hope its not contagious!"

A few days later, Grammy asked Jorjanne, "How much do you weigh?" She answered, "I weigh about 60 labels(lbs)."