Upcoming Women’s Conference at Berean

The Berean Church here in Lincoln is hosting their Women’s Spring Conference on Saturday April 4, 2009. All are welcome! Registration by April 1 is strongly encouraged.

How To Struggle Well

Find freedom from these snags that can hinder successful living:

  • Guilt
  • Perfectionism
  • Low Self Esteem
  • Poor Boundaries
  • Making Comparisons
  • Fear of Change
  • Uncontrolled Emotions

Begin to struggle well by taking away practical tools and biblical insights for successful living. Door prizes will be given away throughout the day. Bring a friend!

Saturday April 4, 2009
8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Lincoln Berean Upper Room, 70th & Hwy 2 (enter through the North Entry)
Cost: $12 per person, includes lunch

Register at www.LincolnBerean.org/webview or call 483-6512

Childcare is not provided.

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Feeling the fire

My husband is very fond of a statement that we heard Beth Moore say many times during Sunday morning class at Houston’s First Baptist: “God burns away the fake.” I find that when I am feeling mired in depression, confusion, loneliness, and near desperation for God to make our path clear, that my thoughts often turn to the very strong possibility that God is using the murkiness of our life right now to “burn away the fake.”

What do we want from our life? What do we want from our marriage? Who is God molding us to be in His purpose-plan? And what does it take to get there? Who will we choose to be on this path? How will we respond to God?

There are 2 places in God’s word that are speaking to me clearly about this struggle:

“Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw — each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” (I Corinthians 3:12-15)

“…In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith — more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire — may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 1:6-7)

And finally, what prompted this post today, are the lyrics of one of my favorite Nichole Nordeman songs (“Burnin” on the album Wide Eyed 1998):

Started rubbing sticks together

Thought a spark would take forever

Never dreamed this fire would appear 

When Moses saw the bush in flames

And heard the branches speak his name

I wonder if he felt this kind of fear

 

Cuz I’m burnin’, yeah I’m burnin’

And I know I’m gonna blister in these flames

But I’ll stay here till this smoke clears

And I’ll find You in the ashes that remain

 

Used to be that I could say

My faith was one arm’s length away

From any flame that ever felt too warm 

Asked for matches, but I received

A gallon full of gasoline

And now my cozy campfire days are gone 

“Knock with caution at the door,” they said

“Beware of what you’re praying for”

So I’ll stand with my whole desire

In the middle of this forest fire

Till I’ve nothing left to show

And new life begins to grow

He who searches hearts

I struggle with how to start this post because I want to talk about depression. I type thoughts, then erase them. Type other thoughts, then erase those too. It is hard to start writing because depression is difficult to talk about.

Right now I am not depressed, but I have been very affected by depression in my life. I have struggled for years with depression, disordered eating, and negative body image. This illness affects many people I know and dearly love, including many in my own family. I think that depression has a language, and I’m not talking about phrases you might hear from a counselor or on a TV talk show. I’m talking about the language of emotion. The language that goes on inside your head when you are deep in the depths of depression. Hopeless, lonely, sad, fearful, angry.

I have found that when I meet or talk with another person who is or has been depressed they understand exactly what I mean. They know how the world slows down when you are depressed, colors become dull, your brain feels heavy and confused, you are moving in slow motion, and it is very difficult to communicate thoughts and feelings to other people. With disordered eating and a mangled sense of body image, you can literally look in the mirror and see a completely distorted reality. Just like the image you see in the fun house at the carnival…only it’s not so fun and it’s definitely not a carnival.

This post was inspired by a recent re-reading of the story of Hagar and Ishmael in Genesis 21:1-21. At the birthday feast of young Isaac, Sarah observes Ishmael, the son of her husband’s concubine Hagar, laughing. Out of jealousy and selfishness (I think), she demands that Abraham cast out Hagar and Ishmael from their home. Hagar and Ishmael wander into the desert, eventually running out of water, and suffering to the point that Hagar places Ishmael under a bush to die. She moves far from him because she can’t bear to see what she thinks is about to happen and begins to sob loudly.

There is a point sometimes when we can do nothing but sob. Out of sadness, loneliness, anger, depression, or fear. The Psalmist knew these feelings well: “O Lord, God of my salvation; I cry out day and night before you…For my soul is full of troubles…” (Psalm 88 ) “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! O Lord, hear my voice!” (Psalm 130).

I believe that God seeks our response to depression. I believe that He wants us to respond to depression in light of what we know about Him — that He is sovereign and He is merciful. I believe that this knowledge is written all over the words of the Psalmist.

I am not as eloquent as the Psalmist and, in fact, I usually have no words at all. Fortunately, God has no need for my words. “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27).

I love that — “He who searches hearts…” There are times when I need for God to search my heart and hear my groans that words cannot express. Oh that He would be glorified even in my deepest and darkest days.