Isaiah 40:29 NKJV
We say things like “As long as there’s life there’s hope,” or “Hope is tying a knot in the rope and holding on,” believing that things will get better. But when hope seems delayed or denied, mental and emotional illness can cause some people to look for a way out. Is suicide wrong? Yes. It’s wrong because it excludes God. When you take your life there’s nothing more He can do for you. It’s wrong because it leaves a legacy of unresolved pain that will live on in the hearts of your loved ones. For generations Christian leaders have debated and disagreed on the question of suicide. But every one of them believes these words: “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression” (Proverbs 12:25 NKJV). And depression, left undealt with, can end in self-destruction. It may not be the result of a bullet or a drug overdose; it may be a decision to stop eating, or overeat, or stop reaching for help because the help they’ve received has not worked. But the end result is the same. A national mental health organization estimates that women are twice as likely to get depressed as men. People in low-income families are reportedly less likely to be treated for this disorder because they cannot afford to get help. Does the Bible have an answer? Yes. “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:29-31 NKJV).
Soul food: Ezek 22-23; Mark 15:1-20; Ps 132:1-10; Prov 15:1-4
Romans 12:15 NIV
Some of us are natural fixers. We want to help people and take away their problems. We want to make things better for the person who’s struggling. We throw everything we have into helping someone else. But there are some things we just can’t fix. And we have to remember that being there for others is not the same as fixing things for others. Being there may involve giving some practical help, but it doesn’t give us the pressure of having to get things sorted. God is the One who can fix situations, heal brokenness and provide true comfort in hurt. God is the ultimate fixer. When we’re struggling, God can help us work through the emotions we have and the situations we find ourselves in. He takes us on a journey of manageable steps. He rebuilds our hope. God promised Israel that He’d ‘make the Valley of Achor a door of hope’ (Hosea 2:15 NIV). And He can do the same for us too. Achor means trouble. So God’s saying He’ll turn trouble into hope. When those around us have lost their hope, it can be tricky to know what to say or do to help them regain it. Sometimes we just have to sit there and listen. We have to let people express their emotions. The Bible says: ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn’ (Romans 12:15 NIV). One of the biggest things about being there for people, is to make sure we’re there for them even when the worst of the situation appears to be over. God’s healing is a process. It takes time. And so we need to keep being there for people, throughout the step by step journey God’s taking them on.
Judg 19:16-21:25; Mark 11:27-33; Ps 45; Prov 13:13-16
Galatians 6:2 NLT
Dr. Raymond Vath said, “We must do for others what they cannot do for themselves, but we must not do for them what they will not do for themselves. The problem is finding the wisdom to know the difference.” You can be too helpful! By doing for somebody what they can do for themselves, you undermine their self-reliance and create an unhealthy dependence. So instead of rushing in and taking over: (1) Show them manageable action steps. By helping them take charge of their life you’re arming them against despair and powerlessness. And by validating their efforts you’re helping them to rebuild their fragile confidence. A word of caution, however: When the crisis involves irreversible loss like divorce or death, the work of simply getting through one day at a time is action enough. (2) Give them hope. In the depth of crisis there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel – a sense that the suffering will go on endlessly. Growth and improvement can’t happen without hope. Hope provides energy, and brings relief based on the conviction that things will improve. God promises, “I will bless you with a future filled with hope – a future of success, not…suffering” (Jeremiah 29:11 CEV). (3) Be sure to follow up. Crises are seldom resolved quickly. Although life may eventually take on some semblance of normalcy, there may be episodes of relapse into sadness, helplessness, or loneliness. Your words may bring comfort, but your ongoing attentiveness will help the hurting person maintain faith and progress in their journey to healing.
Soul food: Judg 19:16-21:25; Mark 11:27-33; Ps 45; Prov 13:13-16
Proverbs 22:29 NIV
We should all want to be successful for God. His idea of success isn’t the same as the world’s idea of success, so it’s important that we take time to pray about our work and the tasks He’s assigned to us, so we can stay focused and on track. Here’s a prayer we can all pray, whatever our task is: ‘Lord, I thank You for the way You’ve made me, for all the gifts and talents You’ve given me, and I trust that I’m the best person for the task You’ve assigned to me. I’m grateful for all the people I work with and connect with, even the ones I don’t really like or understand. Please help me keep my focus on accomplishing the goals You’ve set for me. Give me wisdom and discernment, especially if I’m in a difficult situation. Help me to learn what You want to teach me through this task, and give me patience as You prepare me for the future. Help me to do my best, and to always remain positive and hopeful. Please soothe the complaints and disappointments of my heart with Your perfect peace. Help me to bring You glory and share Your love through the work I’m doing. Allow me to know my true identity, to walk in Your favour, and help me seek to please You. Keep me on the path You’ve laid out for me. Help me to be a peacemaker in times of conflict or argument. When others around me are being deceitful or untrustworthy, help me speak only the truth. Help me bring hope, faith and joy to places where there is despair, fear and sadness. Help me be a light in the darkness. I ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.’
Judg 9:34-11:40; Mark 10:35-52; Ps 129; Prov 20:25; Ecc 5:4-6
Exodus 3:8 NIV
For 400 years the Israelites were enslaved by Egyptian taskmasters who oppressed them and ‘made their lives bitter’ (Exodus 1:14 NIV). Many of us can relate to their feelings of helplessness when we think about areas in our own lives where we struggle with habits. Whether it’s food, alcohol, money, procrastination or something else, we’ve probably all felt a little powerless and hopeless while trying to find freedom. And that can lead to us choosing to give up and just give in to being enslaved. Broken and crushed, the Israelites cried out to the Lord and He responded, ‘I have…seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out…and I am concerned about their suffering’ (Exodus 3:7 NIV). God extended compassion toward them: ‘So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into…a land flowing with milk and honey’ (v. 8 NIV). God came down to bring them up – and He can do the same for us today. The idea of God coming down in order to bring us up gives us hope. We don’t have to try and work for freedom alone. God intervenes. Our habits and sins are not too much for Him. When we admit we’ve gone wrong and ask Him to help us find freedom, He doesn’t turn away from us. Instead, He steps down into the situation and helps us to loosen the chains that have been around us. The Bible says: ‘The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom’ (2 Corinthians 3:17 NCV). So when the Spirit of the Lord steps down into our situations, there is freedom.
Judg 1-3; Mark 10:1-12; Ps 88:1-9a; Prov 13:1-3