Tears to Joy

Tears to Joy: April 2014

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Get Your Claws Out of My Head!

A couple of days ago, Jorjanne found something on our cat’s head.  She tried to get it off, but couldn’t. We decided that it must be dead skin.  A few days later, Jeff pulled the mysterious “thing” out to discover that another cat’s claw had been embedded in Darth Vader’s head.  Ouch!  A constant reminder of his last fight.

As I’ve thought about the cat’s claw lodged in Darth Vader’s skull, I wondered how many times I’ve let parts of past “fights” stick in my head.  Why is it that we forget the positive statements, but let negative statements get embedded in our memory, constantly nagging us, reminding us of the stinging pain felt by someone else’s words. 

Just this week, I had a confrontation with another person, and I bet I’ve replayed that conversation in my head a million times.  The crazy thing is that I’ve had multiple encouraging conversations, but do I revisit them – rarely!  Why is it that we do this to ourselves?

I am trying to “take every thought captive,” so that I don’t let someone’s “claws” get stuck in my mind.  The scripture commands us to focus on “whatever is pure, whatever is admirable, noble, and praiseworthy.”  May we learn to let God renew our minds and eradicate negative, self-defeating thoughts and replace them with more positive ones?  

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Depressed, Lonely, and Cloudy Thinking

This week I have been teaching my students about the life of Elijah.  The story that comes to most of our minds is his showdown with the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18.  Elijah has a mountaintop experience after God demonstrates his power to all the idolaters in Israel.  Elijah is elated -- for awhile.

You see, Queen Jezebel worshiped Baal, and she was furious with Elijah for humiliating her and for killing all of Baal's prophets. She sent word to the king that she wanted Elijah dead.  When Elijah heard the news, he fled into the wilderness, and hid in a cave where he became overwhelmed with grief and sadness.  His depression was so great that he stopped eating and begged God to take his life.

Elijah felt alone. He thought he was the only one left who worshiped God. In 1 Kings 19:18, God tells Elijah that there are 7000 men who have not bowed down to Baal.  Depression often clouds our thinking.  Elijah wasn't really alone, but in his sorrows, he felt abandoned by God.  Elijah was so focused on his circumstances, that he failed to recognize God's presence.  

When we are lonely and depressed we tend to feel sorry for ourselves. We can’t see all the blessings in our lives. God had just used Elijah to prove His might and now Elijah is hiding in a cave feeling sorry for himself. When we are down, we need to focus on what we have to be thankful for. It also helps to look for ways to help others. Elijah was so caught up in himself that he failed to see the 7000 others worshiping God.

How do you think this story might have been different if Elijah had connected with the 7000?  We need other believers in our lives.  The Church is a body -- we need all our parts in order to be all that God called us to be. We need encouragement, accountability, fellowship – we need each other.  I could not have made it through my first husband’s death without the church. They were the hands and feet of Jesus in my life. We need church.  If you aren’t going to church, I challenge you to find one.  Make it a priority to find a church where you can attend.  

A side note:  If anyone tells you that Christians don't get depressed, remember Elijah. He was a great prophet of God, and yet he despaired to the point of longing for death to overtake him.  

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