Speak the Truth to Yourself

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

by Cristina Fox at DesiringGod.org

In the book of Lamentations, the poet does the same thing. He had also been through an intense trial. He was weary and worn and felt as though he had lost all hope. Throughout the book, he lamented over the sin of the people and God’s subsequent judgment. He voices his despair, “I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, ‘My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lᴏʀᴅ’” (Lamentations 3:17–18).

But he didn’t stay there. He spoke his lament. He voiced the depths of his sorrow and pain, and then he reminded himself of what he knew to be true. Though he felt like he had no hope, he reminded himself that he actually did have hope. “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope; The steadfast love of the Lᴏʀᴅ never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lᴏʀᴅ is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him’ (Lamentations 3:21–24).

In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul talks about taking “every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.” When we feel overwhelmed, stressed, worried, anxious, fearful, or in despair, we need to talk back to ourselves. We need to speak the truth of the gospel to ourselves. Like the psalmist in Psalm 42, and like the writer of Lamentations, we need to point ourselves to the hope we have in Christ.

Four Truths Worth Remembering

So what is the truth that we need to say to ourselves? What can we say to ourselves when we feel overwhelmed by life, or fearful of the unknown future, or despairing over a trial?

1. Remember God is sovereign.

We should remind ourselves that God is in control of everything (Isaiah 40; Proverbs 21:1). He holds the world in his hands. Nothing happens outside his will. In fact, he is not surprised by our circumstances (Job 28:24; Lamentations 3:37–38; Genesis 50:20). What is happening to us is not by chance. Rather, it is from the hand of God for our good.

2. Remember who we are in Christ.

We should remind ourselves of who we are in Christ. Because Christ redeemed us from sin, we are no longer slaves to sin (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are adopted sons and daughters of the Most High (Romans 8:15). God loves us like he loves his Son (John 17:23). God looks at us and sees the righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). In Christ, we are now the heirs of his Kingdom (1 Peter 1:4).

3. Remember God’s character.

We should remind ourselves of who God is — of who he’s revealed himself to be. He is good, he is holy, he is just (Daniel 4:37). He is all-powerful, all-knowing, forever faithful (Hebrews 10:23). He is gracious, merciful, and kind (Psalm 103:8). And all of his character, of course, is seen definitively in Jesus himself, as Jesus said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

4. Remember God’s promises.

We should remind ourselves of God’s promises. He has promised salvation for everyone who calls on his name (Acts 2:21; John 6:37). He is always with us (Joshua 1:9; Matthew 28:20). He has promised to never leave us or forsake us (Romans 8:35–39). He hears us when we cry out to him (Psalm 34:15; Psalm 86:5–8). He will meet all our needs (Philippians 4:19; Romans 8:32). He has promised us eternity with him in heaven (John 14:2–3; 1 John 2:25).

The next time you face a trial and find yourself thinking such thoughts as “I’ll never get through this,” speak the truth. Go ahead. It’s okay to talk to yourself. Preach the gospel to yourself. Remind yourself of the hope you have because of Christ Jesus.

Read the entire article here – http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/speak-the-truth-to-yourself

Christina Fox is a homeschooling mom, licensed mental health counselor, and writer. She lives in sunny south Florida with her husband of seventeen years and their two boys. You can find her sharing her faith journey at www.toshowthemjesus.com and at her Facebook page.

Randy Alcorn – Going Deep with God in Depression

Note: If you know someone going through a tough time, pass the video link to them and let them know they are not alone. Randy made two points that impressed upon me:

  1. Even great men of God go through periods of depression. It is not just a sign of being spiritually weak or far from God, it is something God allows sometimes.
  2. God is right there with you, even in the midst of depression. Don’t wait to come out of it and think that is where God will meet you. He is with you every step of the way, ready to comfort and to lift.

Randy Alcorn | Theology Refresh | Depression is often illusive. Some dark cloud gathers and hangs overhead. You feel constantly ill at ease. Whether triggered by negative events, or some undefined cause, you know despondency when you experience it, even if you find it hard to describe… Learn more athttp://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts… Photo credit blog.lifeway.com VIDEO by Desiring God

Transcript:

Randy Alcorn: I think depression is something that is elusive, but we sort of know what it is. It’s the state of having this cloud over you, this sense of being ill at ease, kind of a loss of happiness, a sense of „Where’s the joy in my life?” My own experience with depression has not been extensive, but I have had periods of time. One time, four months, where every day I would get up  and spend time with the Lord, but, I’d get up in the morning and I wasn’t just tired. I didn’t just need a cup of coffee. It’s just that there was this dark cloud. The embarrassing thing was, it was not at a time in my life where all kinds of things were going wrong. There had been many other times in my life where there’s been a lot of stress, a lot of  things going on, where I felt a great peace and contentment with the Lord. And then, this was in a period of time where not much was happening that was creating pressure. But, for undefinable reasons, I just didn’t know why; sometimes anxiety is like high stakes and low control. Depression is sometimes just the sense of ‘I don’t know  why’. I can’t just point my finger at the reason.

Causes- I think it’s very elusive and it’s different for different people. I think, sometimes when we talk about depression, anxiety, fear, whatever it might be, we kind of start saying: „Well, this is what it is.” But for some people it comes in a different shape and form. Certainly, depression can be triggered by very negative events happening in your life: Your child is dying, your spouse has  left you, you’ve lost your job- different circumstantial things in life. Other times, as I’ve said, in my case, you can’t point to a particular reason.  One of the things I’ve learned in my own depression, periodically when it comes upon me, is that God is there with me in the depression.

It used to be that I used to think, „Okay, this is wrong. I shouldn’t feel this way. I should have the joy of the Lord,” and indeed we should. But at the same time, what I do is try to get out of the depression. What can I do to get out of this? And I think, what’s been most helpful to me, and in that period of 4 month depression, I came to the point where no matter what I did, it wasn’t going away. So, then finally, I ended up saying, „Okay, Lord, walk with me in this. Help me to learn from this. So I looked at Romans 8 and you’ve got „If God be for us, who can be against us?” „Nothing shall separate us from the love of Christ. We’re more than conquerers through Him..” and certainly, „God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God.” So, in the middle of my depression, I’m meditating on those things and I’m sensing the presence of God, strangely sensing His presence in deeper ways then when everything was going just fine.

photo credit prayerineverycity.com

I think, certainly, going to God’s word, praying, getting support from other people, I was very honest with my wife, some of my friends. I blogged about it, I went to Charles Spurgeon, who experienced a lot of depression  throughout his life. He was plagued even many years later through that instance where 6 people who died in that crowd where somebody yelled „Fire” falsely. There wasn’t a fire, and that was when he was a very young pastor. But those memories would come back and haunt him at times. And it was actually very reassuring to me to see Charles Spurgeon, who I admire so much, and I don’t think anybody would say, „Well, the reason that Spurgeon experienced such depression is because He just wasn’t Christ centered and he didn’t know God’s word. No, no. The closeness to God that he experienced, the joy and the happiness that he repeatedly talks about , much of that comes out of his attempts to find that happiness and to find that joy in Christ, and successfully so. But, in a life that involved a great deal of physical pain and his wife being an invalid, and his own experience of depression.

I blogged about that and I got many people writing to me and saying, „This is so helpful that you’ve been honest enough to talk about this. So, there were a number of things that helped me through that time. But certainly, being honest, taking it to the Lord, saying, „God, I’m not living simply to have you cure/fix my problem any more than I would say, ‘Make no longer an insulin dependent diabetic’ which I am and have been.” If He wants me to heal me of that, heal me. But I’m not gonna wait until He does that. Don’t wait til you’re out of it to move on in life. Move on now, in the presence of God. There’s a real sweetness to that.

Counsel to pastors/leaders: One of the things I would say is, „Lord, help me to get through this day, with all the responsibilities that I have, with all the people I’m supposed to meet with, all the writing I’m supposed to do, meetings, whatever it is. But, help me to sense your presence  in the moment. Help me to not simply force myself to do this, putting one foot in front of the other on my own strength. But instead, to relax and say, „God, you help me. You lead me, you guide me. I need to lean on you to get through this day, so that at the end of the day I won’t say, „Okay, I did it again. I forced my way through the day, but know, „God you were with main this.”

Counsel to ministers and counselors who minister to depressed folks: I think, one thing is to not begin by thinking, „Okay, something is automatically terribly wrong here. Let people say what they’re feeling and express why they think they’re feeling it. Certainly, it’s always a good response to say, „Look to the Lord, depend on Him for strength.” But be careful not to lecture people who may already be going to the Lord and still experiencing depression. Again, think if you were meeting with Charles Spurgeon, would you be saying, „Now, Charles, if you would just spend time in the word, and if you would just depend on God, if you would just do that, then your depression would go away.” No. Understand that this person may be having time with God they may be pursuing all kinds of ways to get better. But so far, it hasn’t happened. And that’s why they have come to you for help. So, be sensitive to them. But, of course, don’t hesitate to bring to them the importance of focusing on the Lord. Set your mind on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Colossians 3. Think from an eternal perspective.Look at Romans 8:28 in terms or retroactively as you will see it someday, retrospect, we’ll look back and we’ll say, „Now I see how God has caused all things to work for good. This is on of those things in your life, and God will use this depression you’ve experienced, for good. So, yes, I will try to help you out of that, but don’t think your life and your walk with God will not begin until you are out of it.

Gary Habermas – The Worst Suffering We Will Ever Face or When God does not heal you (Essential Reading)

Dr. Gary Habermas – chairman of the Dept. of  philosophy and theology at Liberty University.

Gary Habermas (b. 1950) is an American Christian apologist, theologian, and philosopher of religion. He is Distinguished Professor of Apologetics and Philosophy and chairman of the department of philosophy and theology at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Habermas is noted for his work defending the resurrection and is often cited in the area of Christian apologetics. He has also specialized in cataloging and communicating trends among scholars in the field of historical Jesus and New Testament studies.

In 1985, Habermas and Antony Flew debated the question of Jesus’ resurrection as a literal and historical/physical event, before a crowd of three thousand people. The debate was judged by professional debate judges and was published as a book under the title Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? The Resurrection Debate (Harper & Row, 1987). (source http://www.theopedia.com/Gary_Habermas)

For apologetics resources in video and written form visit Dr. Habermas’s personal website at http://www.garyhabermas.com and here is the direct link to his video page- http://www.garyhabermas.com/video.

The Worst Suffering We Will Ever Face

This message was given at Calvary Chapel St. Petersburg (February 2013) – Where is God when I’m suffering? Is God ignoring me? Does God break promises? Does God even care about my situation? Why does God let me down so many times? Why doesn’t God answer my prayers? Is God abandoning me? Gary Habermas explores the reality of pain and suffering and doubt in the Christian life. Dr. Habermas also recounts his wife’s stomach cancer and death and the comfort he felt in learning that we are to share in Christ’s suffering.

„While physical suffering can be, and sometimes is the worst, many experts agree, that generally, the worst kind of suffering is emotional suffering. It’s the worst kind of anxiety, depression, anger, and emotional states in which we really work ourselves up. How are we going to handle these from a counseling perspective, from a pain perspective and from a biblical perspective?

I went through a time of 10 years of doubt. And, because of that (I have written 3 books on doubt), I have had about 500 discussions with doubters. So, I would listen, and over the years (30 yrs), the question has changed a little bit. Today, the question I-m hearing from believers is: How come my prayers don’t get past the ceiling? We all say this: How come God treats me this way? Maybe we even dare to think that God breaks His promises.

Now, if you tell yourself this, and your faith is important to you, you’re beginning down a path of a lot of pain….because it’s sort of like saying your spouse is not true to you, if you have a good marriage. Because you are saying that God is untrue to you. First of all, a lesson in theology. God cannot be anything other than what He is. God cannot be unGod. You can only act according to your nature, and God can only act according to His nature, and His nature is a lot more grandiose than ours. Scriptures teaches that there a lot of things that God can’t do. Because of His nature, God can’t lie. God can’t cheat, God can’t be unfair. God can’t trick you, He can’t tempt you with evil. He can’t die, He can’t lie and He can’t break His promises. So, right off the bat, there’s something wrong with these statements: God doesn’t care about me… (It’s a) lie. He breaks His promises… He couldn’t, (even) if he wanted to. And those are the things we should be glad about. (7:00)

The #1 problem with this kind of pain, where you think God is not answering your prayers, so you make God fade in the background, is the world, God, our friends, they are to each of us as we perceive them. My friend to me is the way I think of my friend. Here’s the scary thing: If we lie to ourselves about God – saying He’s breaking promises, letting us down, He’s there for other people, He’s not there for me. The Scriptures say dozens of times that God is fair, just, will do the right thing. Must not the God of all the world do rightly? We all lie, we lie to ourselves. And lies cause pain. But, here’s the issue: If I think God breaks promises, then in my mind, (not in reality), God is a promise breaking God. That’s who I perceive Him to be. And if I think He’s a promise breaker, I’ll treat Him a certain way. And from that treatment pain starts growing. Anger. From anger, often depression. Anger is one of the chief building blocks. Anger and lack of forgiveness are the chief building blocks of depression. And chief building blocks of anxiety are – „the worst thing is about to happen, and it’s about to happen now”. That’s the flint and steel of an anxiety attack.

Sometimes it’s said that depression is living in your past, anxiety is living in your future.They are both very painful, but, these are realities only in my mind. Now, some things I think are true, but, the extent to which I lie to myself determines the extent to which I will experience a lot of pain.(13:00) You can’t control what people do to you (to an extent), but, you can control what you say about it.

Uploaded by religionphilosophy

Consider this: You cannot state the Gospel of Jesus Christ without talking about the reality of suffering. Contrary to what many of us have heard, contrary certainly to what many of us hope, the Bible does not teach that it is about avoiding pain. There are dozens of verses that teach the reality of suffering, and we largely ignore them. It doesn’t preach, but it’s the truth.

What is the Gospel. There’s two sides that define the Gospel: Who Jesus was and what He did, and our response. Jesus’s side is the deity, death and resurrection. But, I can’t talk about the cross without talking about suffering. God watched His Son die. And how about this? Jesus was rejected by His family. That alone is enough to kill any one of us emotionally. Jesus’s brothers tried to take Him aside when He came into town. They thought He was nuts. That’s what the Greek says. „They thought He was besides Himself- two minds, and they tried to get Him out of the public eye. (It was like, „Come on, I have to live here, and You’re embarrassing  my friends. Come on… let’s move over here”) How about the garden of Ghetsemane? He knew why He came, and yet, the pain was so great. Although He wanted the Lord’s will, He asked, could He forego this somehow? Sweating blood is a well known medical phenomenon. But, it is caused by severe stress, which by the way, since Jesus didn’t sin, it points out that severe emotions are not always sinful. Paul says, „Be angry and sin not.” There’s a righteous kind of concern, there’s a righteous kind of anger. There’s an unrighteous kind in the sense of hurting yourself and others.

On the cross, Jesus knew God has not forsaken Him. Of course he is quoting Psalm 22:1 here. He felt abandoned. That was His human experience. Consider these verses. Sometimes we don’t think Jesus had to learn anything. There are several verses that say He did. Here’s one of them: He learned obedience from His suffering. The next one: He was completed by suffering. In John 14-16 there are 3 promises: Pray whatever you want in My name and you got it. In the exact same context there are 3 other comments that say: You’re going to have problems in this life. The last one says: People are going to kill you and think they’re doing God a favor. God, I thought you said that whatever I pray for will come true. Oh, I get it, whenever that persecution comes that will kill me, I’ll just pray that you take it away, right? No. Next chapter, John 17, Jesus is praying to God and He says, „I don’t pray that you take them out of the world, I pray that you preserve them in the world.

Where do we get this idea that being healed means being removed from things? What if it means not being taken from, what if it means God’s gonna take our hand through? We don’t wanna hear that, but, we grow that way. (21:00)

God can mend broken hearts. And God starts, in many verses, God starts in our being careful what we tell ourselves, because we multiply our own pain. We are told in Scripture that we will share in Christ’s suffering. Here’s one you probably one you don’t wanna hear. 1 Peter chapter 2 „We should walk in Jesus’s steps,” and that includes His suffering.

In the last 25 minutes Dr. Habermas recounts his wife’s dying of stomach cancer, and the comfort in the the midst of suffering through the loss of his wife.

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