How to Beat Depression and Suicidal Thoughts

Elijah walked a whole day into the wilderness. He stopped and sat down in the shade of a tree and wished he would die. “It's too much, LORD,” he prayed. “Take away my life; I might as well be dead!” …Suddenly the LORD spoke to him, “Elijah, what are you doing here?” He answered, “LORD God Almighty, I have always served you—you alone. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed all your prophets. I am the only one left—and they are trying to kill me!”(I Kings 19: 5, 9-10 GNB)

A.  Questions and Answers from God’s Word on Depression

1. Have you ever been at the end of your rope, lost your will to go on, even prayed for  God to take  you?    You’re in good company. Elijah, a great man of God, experienced all these things. Read about it in I Kings 19. James the Elder tells us in 5:17 that Elijah was a man just like us.                                                                                                          2. What causes depression? Elijah ‘s story tells us much about this.
a) Emotional, physical and spiritual exhaustion. Elijah had faced a highly stressful situation. Although he had achieved a great victory for the God of Israel on Mt. Carmel, afterwards he had what we often face after a stressful, even successful time: an emotional letdown. Let’s keep our letdowns from becoming breakdowns.
b) He focused on His feelings. Self-absorption is an emotional and spiritual trap. Don’t let the devil play ping pong with your emotions.
c) He judged and blamed himself. Self-condemnation, shame and guilt are among the enemy’s biggest weapons to defeat us. There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Shame is Satan’s weapon, not God’s.
d) He compared himself with others. Identify with others, never compare.
e) He magnified the negatives and minimized the positives: “I am the only one left and now they’re trying to kill me too.” That wasn’t true at all. One person – Jezebel, was against him
f) He indulged in self-pity. No one wants to attend our pity parties.

B. Here are some practical things to do to avoid depression’s downward spiral.

    1. Focus on God’s reality, not our perceptions, which are often skewed.
a) What brought Elijah out of his funk? He finally listened to God, not his perceptions.
b) He listened to the Word of the Lord, prayed, heard from God and was obedient.
c) Does this make sense as a course of action when depressive thoughts enter our
mind? Consider this word: “Are you anxious (or depressed), ask God for help and don’t forget:  thank and praise Him. (Phil 4: 6, our paraphrase).
•          First Ask God for Help. Turn your problem and pain over to Him completely.
•           Next thank Him, for the good AND if you want your faith and mental health to deepen, thank him also for the challenges you are facing. God allows these negatives in our lives to strengthen us. “In all things give thanks for this is the will of God concerning you.

  2. Repeat aloud the written word, Scriptures. After my Stage 4 cancer diagnosis, I experienced great victory over depression by taking long walks and repeating aloud these affirmations of faith from the Bible.
<“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”>
             <“I am more than a conqueror through Christ who loves me.”>
             <“Nothing can separate me from the love of God.”>
             <“I will never leave you or forsake you.”>
3. Personalize these affirmations. Say them aloud to Jesus. For example:
<“I know you have not left me and will never leave me nor forsake me.”>
4. Be kind to yourself. Don’t listen to the negative tapes and lie in your head.
God doesn’t make any junk. You are special to Him and of great worth.
5. Get outside and outside of yourself. Avoid isolating. Spend time with Christian friends
6. Do something you enjoy. Recreation is a God word. Re-create your energy and renew your spirit by doing fun things.
7. Love others through random acts of kindness. “Serve one another as Christ has served you.”

Breaking Free From Anger

  I. Anger is a complicated emotion with a wide range of effects from annoyance to irritation to violent rage.

 II.Misconceptions About Anger

  1. All Anger is bad: Feelings, including anger, are neither right nor wrong, they just are. “Be angry and sin not,” the apostle teaches. There is appropriate anger which Jesus expressed when he cast the money changers out of the temple. He also showed hia anger towards hypocrisy and religious intolerance.
  2. In fact, anger may be healthy—it can serve as a warning that something is not right and motivate us to speak up and make positive changes.
  3. Venting or “dumping” anger helps us to “get it out of our system.” Research shows “letting off steam” is the worst strategy for managing anger. It often makes a situation worse, increases conflict and aggression
  4. Denying or “stuffing” anger makes it go away. Instead it is more likely to cause harm such as: allowing us to ignore situations such as domestic abuse; lead to harmful passive-aggressive behavior; create stresses which cause serious health issues. There is much research to show stuffing anger is a cause of arthritis.

 III.Four Ways to Honor God when you are angry

     1.  Don’t deny your anger but confess it.

  •    I John 1: 9: If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
  •    Personal Note; I have found to say the words out loud, “I feel angry,” helps to unmask the feeling and calms me down.

     2. Delay your anger but do not prolong it: Let not the sun go down on your anger.

  •   Proverbs: 15: 18: A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but if you are slow to anger you can keep things under control;
  •  Proverbs 16: 32: He who controls his temper is better than a mighty warrior,he who rules his spirit better than he who captures a city.
  • Eccles 7:9 Be not be hasty in your spirit to get angry,for anger lodges in the heart of fools.

3. Defuse your anger:

  • By speaking softly with someone who expresses anger. Proverbs 15: 1 A soft answersoothes angry feelings,but harsh wordsstirs them up.
  • By having a burden for reconciliation. Jesus taught that if someone holds resentment towards us, we should not worship, especially refrains from the Lord’s Supper, until we have tried to make it right. Matthew 5: 22-24: But Therefore if you bring your  gift to the altar, and there remember your brother has something against you;  Leave your gift at the altar, and go, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer your gift.
  • He also expects us to have the same burden if someone has hurt us in some way. Matthew 18:15 “If your brother sins against you go and tell him what he did in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother back again
  • Notice two things. The burden to be reconciled with our brother is on us whether we are the injured party or we have done the injury. The other is this process applies to how conflicts are to be handled among Christians in the church.  Sadly, believers often ignore Jesus’ wise counsel. Instead they make matters worse by bringing a third party into the problem before going to the offended or offender involved. This dysfunctional behavior is called “triangulating.” It is cowardly and destructive to relationships.

4.  Finally, confess your anger to God and ask for His help.

Big Error in Bible Translation

“Greater is he that’s inside me…” These were lyrics I heard yesterday on Christian radio. They were John the Apostle’s words, Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them because greater is He who is in you, than he that is in the world. (1 John 4:4). We read the words, we sing them, we say them, but do we  understand them?

It’s we, not me. When we read the word “you,” in this verse, we automatically think “me,” despite seeing the words, “little children.” John is not writing to a single person, but to a group—plural.  He isn’t speaking to “me” but to the church, to “us.”  Except for a few letters from Paul, the New Testament writers wrote to the church. We see this by Jesus’ letters to seven churches—not to me, but to us.

The error comes from our language. Why the confusion? One reason is English lacks a word for the plural or collective “you.” Sadly, translators neglect to distinguish between the singular or plural “you.”  The one blessed exception is the ESV,  which uses “you all.” Fact: New Testament writers use the plural “you” four and a half times more than the singular. Our language hides this from us, so we willy-nilly apply them all to ME!

The error comes from our culture. We may be the most individualistic culture in history. The USA was born fighting for the values of independence and individual rights. While this is a blessing, the pendulum has swung far the other way. Our motto is E Plurabis Unum—“the one out of many. Today it is far more the many, not the one. We are less united as a people under God than a collection of individuals.

The error comes from our technology. We drive alone in cars with brand new passenger seats, but rarely any passengers. We watch programs alone on our TV sets, spend hours behind computers or texting on cell phones. Often we don’t know our neighbors or the person next to us in worship. We are sadly disconnected from each other both in society and church.

Why is all this so important? Jesus prayed that we would “BE ONE, THAT THE WORLD MAY BELIEVE.” Yet, when we read “You are the light of the world,” we think of the Sunday school song, “This little light of mine.” But can my single light dim this world’s darkness? A million scattered lights cannot. Jesus was saying, “You, all together, my church, my people, are this world’s light.”

Today we suffer from a “Jesus and me” theology, neglecting the greater truth that it is the church alone that overcomes and lights up the world. Not even the apostles believed it was their lone lights.

We are called to be a team not a bunch of loners. Often the early church’s great deeds were due to their obedience to Jesus’ command “to love one another,” a command repeated five time in John’s gospel. They worked and prayed together as a united body of believers, not, a collection of individuals. Luke often used the Greek word homothumadon, “in one accord.”  Soon after, he recorded great events that shook the world.

Peter preached at the great Pentecost in gathering, but he did not stand alone. Luke writes, “He stood up with the apostles.” They were a team. Paul nearly always travelled with a group. He realized the power in Jesus’ words, “Where two or three of you are in harmony (Gr: symphanos) there am I in the midst of you.”

Let’s Do it Again. If we are to be a church that impacts our world, we can do no less. Let us love one another that the world may believe. Let us practice our solidarity in Christ that we may fulfill His commission to reach the world He loves and died to save.

The God Whisperers

The God Whisperers

And after the fire [and earthquake] came a gentle whisper [a still, small voice]. I Kings 19:12

Individuals with unique talents for communicating with dogs, horses and even plants have been labeled “whisperers.” I know a gifted mechanic whom some might label a car whisperer.  To achieve this status requires skills in listening, observing and a readiness to take action.

God spoke to Elijah, the prophet in a whisper and the prophet went on to do mighty things for the Lord and for others. I call him a God whisperer because he listened for God’s quiet nudge, and then followed through by anointing Jehu king of Israel, Hazael, king of Aram and Elisha as his  successor.

God might have done these things himself, but He seems to prefer prompting others and then work through them.

I believe Ananias and Barnabas were God whisperers. The former heard from the Lord then brought God’s message and healing to St. Paul. Barnabas, God’s encourager, was prompted to travel to Tarsus, locate Paul to rescue him from obscurity then bring him to Antioch where he began his apostolic ministry.

Have you felt God’s gentle nudge, the promptings of His Spirit to be a blessing to someone? If you followed through on these nudges, we might consider you a God whisperer.

I met Alex when my battery went dead one hot Florida afternoon.  He drove up in his Triple A tow truck and got to work.  As he revived my battery, the Spirit prompted me to ask, “So, what’s going on in your life these days?” He opened up, sharing how a girl had broken his heart and how lonely he’d been. Later he admitted he had suicidal thoughts.

Since he had opened the door, I took the bull by the horns. “Have you asked God for help?”

“Funny, you should ask.” I’ve been trying to get close to God, but I don’t know how.”

“Well, it starts with prayer, Alex. Would you like to know how to pray?”

“Absolutely,” Alex said

We stood by my car, now running fine, as I explained how Christ died for his sins, was here with us now, how God loved him and always ready to hear and answer our prayers. “Just speak to him the way you speak to me,” I suggested..

I suggested that his first prayer could be to ask God for forgiveness and to invite Christ into his  life. When he agreed this would be a good thing, we prayed together. I believe a new soul was added to God’s kingdom that day. I saw Alex a few months later at a hospital visiting a young boy who had been hit by a car. It seemed Alex was on his way to becoming something of a God whisperer himself.

How about you?

Update for Our Loyal Blog Readers

Update Regarding Wade, Our Blog Writer

Good news.  There was a great report today from Wade’s surgeon regarding his cancer surgery.

Wade is still recovering, however, and hopes to have another post as soon as he’s able to use his computer. We solicit your prayers for a quick return to his blog ministry.

Since his illness came to light so suddenly and had to be dealt with so quickly due to the serious aggressive nature of the type of cancer, he did not have time to build up a portfolio of posts to use during his recovery.

Thanks for understanding,

The Lazarus Team