Friday, February 26, 2010

Human Musings

National Geographic's Picture of the Day today features mandarin ducks. I have never seen these magical creatures before. Their intricate color patterns speak to the imagination of God. Nature is an open book on God's sovereignty and His love of beauty.

Whenever I see a wonder of nature, I think of my favorite fantasy about heaven. It is based on our knowledge that God created Man in His own image. I like to think He likewise created the earth in heaven's image. God is the perfect image He originally intended for man. Heaven might be the perfect image God originally intended for the earth.

This would mean that heaven consists of breath-taking vistas and unimagined color palettes. Creatures like a lion who would lie down with a lamb will dot the landscape. Maybe dogs that don't bite or pidgeons who don't poop will be there too.

Okay, this is a pretty long stretch of the imagination. But it seems to me that this is what imaginations are for. So the next time I drive over the ridge to see blue skies and fluffy clouds, I'll go right on dreaming of how much more beautiful the view will be in heaven.

May you feel His grace today,
Gail W.

The last Word: After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. The voice I had first heard speaking said, "Come up here" . . . at once, I was in the Spirit and there before me was a throne in heaven.
Revelation 4:1, 2, NIV.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Out of the "Blue", Part III

Depression may seem like a modern day phenomenon. God’s Word tells us otherwise. A list of characters who suffered from depression reads like a who’s who in the Old Testament. We’ve already mentioned Cain as the first case of depression cited in the Bible (see Out of the Blue – Part II). Saul comes next with an evil spirit that was soothed when David played the harp. David, the man after God’s own heart describes many bouts with depression in the Psalms. How often does he mention being entangled by the cords of death? This is what real depression feels like. I speak from first-hand experience.

Clinical depression has been an on-going shadow for me through most of my life. Hence my interest in what the Bible has to say on the subject. Sadly, there are many in the Church who scoff at the notion of a biochemical imbalance. Sufferers are seen as lacking in faith and prone to blaming their upbringing for current behavior. This attitude has been a source of great anguish to me over the years. I have often minimized the extent of my suffering to avoid being misunderstood. Thus, Satan’s campaign to keep me isolated in my pain is advanced.

Look around you. Are you or others in your sphere of influence suffering in silence? If one in five adults suffer, how many share the pew with you on Sunday morning? How many are fearful of speaking their pain lest they be seen as ungrateful and unable to trust God for all their needs? God does supply all our needs; in my case, He has often done so through the care of well-trained physicians and the medications He has revealed to man. Stop by later this week for my favorite example of depression in the Bible. We’ll look at the story of Elijah, a great man crushed by depression but delivered by God.

May you feel His grace today,
Gail W.

The last Word: My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
David in Psalm 42:3, NIV.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Out of the "Blue", Part II

Note: This post is part of a short series on depression from a Biblical world view.

God created Adam and Eve to live harmoniously in the Garden of Eden. Their response to the serpent’s temptation changed all that. In judging the original sin, God spoke, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil, you will eat of it all the days of your life” (Genesis 3:17). Man’s sentence? “Painful toil . . . all the days of your life.” The cost of sin was levied. Disease and its ultimate outcome of death entered the world.

All manner of disease now appeared in the course of humanity. Mental illness was no exception. In the story of the first family formed, we find disturbance of the mind. When God looked with favor on Abel’s offering but rejected Cain and his offering, “Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast” (Genesis 4:5).

If you trace the definition of "downcast" through its many forms in the dictionary, you will eventually come to the word “depressed”. Cain was low in spirits. He was depressed. While one can imagine that Adam and Eve suffered a similar fate, Cain’s depression is the first one specifically described in the Word of God. But his was not the last described by a long shot.

Join us for Part III of this series where we look at some of the great Bible heroes who suffered with depression. Our destination will be God's answers to this painful dilemma as expressed in His Word.

May you feel His grace today,
Gail W.

The last Word: Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death came to all men, because all sinned . . . Death reigned.
Romans 5:12, 14 (NIV).

Monday, February 15, 2010

Out of the "Blue"

Depression. The modern-day “common cold”. A word that is sometimes tossed around casually. There is confusion about being depressed versus depression. Being depressed is something you do when you step on the scales and they haven’t budged from last week. Depressed is what happens when the kids will be out of school another day due to winter weather.

Depression and other mental illnesses are a different kettle of fish. According to the Global Burden of Disease study, mental illness has a greater effect than all cancers combined. In America, suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people age 15 to 24. The Surgeon General’s office estimates twenty percent of adults are affected by mental illness.

Numbers are not just abstract facts. How many people belong to your church? For every hundred members, you can believe around twenty people are affected by mental illness. When you look around the sanctuary next Sunday, consider that one of every five may deal with the consequences of mental illness. You may very well be the one in five on your pew.

But when was the last time your pastor called a member to the prayer rail for support in their struggle with mental illness? Cancer, heart disease, strokes – these woes call for corporate prayer at first glimmer. But mental illness is a problem to keep under wraps. Please join me in the next few posts as we explore the Bible’s take on mental illness and the response God calls for from us.

May you feel His grace today,
Gail W.

The last Word: Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.
James 5:14, NIV.