Being Very, Very Sick

Potter shaping a ceramic plate on a pottery wheel
Potter shaping a ceramic plate on a pottery wheel
“Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death, so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead.”

2 Corinthians 1:9

To be chronically ill often means awful frustration. We can’t do what we want, we are ‘trapped’ by a disease we never asked for, and we’re held hostage by our minds and bodies. We once had a job– a career… and our time was occupied by that.

We were accustomed to something, anything more than being very sick.

I once was a pastor of a small church. I also taught Gospels for several years in a local Bible Institute. I loved ministry very much. They defined my identity and gave me purpose. I enjoyed helping people and teaching the Word. I endeavored to be faithful in the ministry. I hope I did.

With the sudden onset of a brain tumor, followed up by a diagnosis of bipolar disorder (BP), my life more or less exploded. I had extensive memory loss. I knew I had to step out of the ministry. I simply could not function. It was a hard thing to leave it behind. (I still miss it).

My depression grew even more profound with the stillborn death of our third child just 3 days before her delivery, Things suddenly ground to a standstill as my wife and I tried to process all of this. I guess I just couldn’t understand and more or less just shut down. I was angry at God. I spent months in bed, unable to function.

A profound sadness settled on me.

Some people were true jewels. Others were mean and uncaring. (I had to learn to take the good with the bad.) I suppose I should have understood, but things were so tangled up inside me that I couldn’t verbalize a thing. But God knew all about me.

The post-op recovery following the tumor was an ordeal, as I had to learn many things all over again. A few years later I ended up on disability; I was unable to work, and my symptoms were so unpredictable. I dealt with profound depression and a solid dose of paranoia and fear.

I learned that meds can help, but they can’t fix the problem.

The isolation of being ill seems worse than the pain. We wonder why this is happening to us, and we hear lies about our worthiness or God’s goodness. Our value to others seems to be scuttled by our illness. We can feel cursed, forgotten, crippled by God, or even worse. (Maybe even irrevocably lost.)

Satan craves our spiritual destruction, and he snares unsteady souls.

I admit I have been slow to learn this– but God brings good things out of the dark. I’m embarrassed by my personal lack of acquiring all of this. Now I’m starting to learn finally, and I want His words to reflect these truths.

“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.”

2 Corinthians 4:7

This light will shine. The treasure is found in clay vessels. Brokenness only means the treasure is now seen clearly. It’s important to note–treasure loses none of its value by being surrounded by broken clay. Our weaknesses are being turned into goodness, understanding, and love for our brothers and sisters.

Troubles of many different varieties will visit us. Count on it.

No matter what their nature, God holds his people in place while everything else is falling apart. But for the broken believer, there is another dimension; we will indeed triumph. The tragedies we’ve had to endure only supplement our faith. We will stand– because He makes us stand.

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.”

2 Corinthians 4:8-9

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Comprehensive Protection

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The Book of Daniel contains the acts and welfare of the Jewish people in Babylon. They are captives and so many of the stories shared here are accounts of spirituality under duress. King Nebuchadnezzar, in an attempt to unify his kingdom, proclaims himself to be a god. He commissions a 90-foot statue to be erected; he orders that, on a prearranged moment, all would fall down and worship.

Thgold statueere are three Jewish men: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who are brought to the king with the charge of ‘failure to worship.’ They refused to bow at the statue at the signal. They were observed standing when everyone else was kneeling. Non-compliance to the king meant the death penalty, but that doesn’t deter the three.

Their faith will not allow them to sin in this way.

They are resolute. The first, second, and third commandments clearly forbid the worship of all idols. There were no other options. Perhaps they valued their souls more than they valued their lives. In some things, there can be no accommodation– no compromise. Standing before the king and threatened with death, they declare their allegiance to the living God.

Dan. 3:16-18:

 “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

The king is enraged.

Few have ever spoken and defied him like this (and lived). He orders the furnace to be heated up like never before.  Here the king is making a statement. He will not tolerate this kind of ‘rebellion’ in his kingdom. All of his governing leaders will witness what he does to ‘traitors.’ These Hebrews must be made an example.

Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods”

(v.v. 24-25)

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are thrown into the fire. The men who escorted them are killed by the heat. Ironically, Nebuchadnezzer can’t protect his own men from death while the three Jews are not touched, not even a little.

They are joined by a fourth man and they walk around in the midst of the flames.

Suddenly, Nebuchadnezzer realizes that the God of Israel is not only a real God, but a force to be reckoned with. The men’s faith has saved them. (And his men are dead.)

The complete story is quite compelling. The king orders all that the real God be worshipped. Henceforth, no one shall ever speak against this God. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are promoted in the kingdom.

The lessons for today are many,

  1. God’s Word is to be obeyed no matter what it costs.

  2. When confronted, we must never hedge over our beliefs.

  3. God is present with us in our furnace, we’re never alone.

  4. In the fire, our faith will ultimately triumph. One way or another.

We may be standing in similar times. Faith will be tested. The Word must be believed and trusted. It is ‘comprehensive protection’ for our lives. Obedience to God will lead us into difficult places, but faith will triumph.

“When you have no helpers, see your helpers in God. When you have many helpers, see God in all your helpers. When you have nothing but God, see all in God. When you have everything, see God in everything. Under all conditions, stay thy heart only on the Lord.”

    Charles Spurgeon

Thinking Without My “Tin Foil Hat”

As we think of mental illness an immediate question arises:  what is “serious” mental illness, and how is it different from the normal issues that are part of everyday life?

Wearing a tin-foil hat is the delusion that those who wear them are some how protected from space rays or conspiracy theories. Crazy, I know. But some believers approach mental illness in this way.
Brother and sister, we’re called to think biblically. Ephesians 6:17 tells us that the “helmet of salvation” is the only head gear we’re called to wear. It tells us that the ‘warriors’ protection is God’s salvation. We are protected by a helmet of truth.
We must educate ourselves, through our community, and knowledgeable Christian leadership, to serve the broken that are in our midst.  This figure includes a wide variety of disorders, these stats are compelling:
  • Severe mental illnesses affect 5.4 percent of adults,
  • Some 22 to 23 percent of the U.S. adult population—or 44 million people-“have diagnosable mental disorders”
  • Such statistics only begin to capture the level of pain many of our fellow believers endure daily.

 One person wrote of the broad reach of mental illness:

“I have a thousand faces, and I am found in all races. Sometimes rich, sometimes poor, sometimes young, sometimes old. I am a person with the disabling pain of a broken brain.”

We must find an acceptable form of understanding about mental illness if we are going to find our way to those who are quite frankly, very definitely lost.

Both Scripture and eldership, (healthy counseling), should be an active component to recovery. The sacrifical sacrifice of Jesus, through His blood must be taught again to the afflicted. Mental disease needs to be as understood in the same context as a physical one (e.g. diabeties or cancer).

Discernment must be sought as the whole person often needs to be taught. Issues like guilt, unforgiveness and pride are a big part of seeing people set free. Issues of past trauma like sexual and phyical abuse are factors as well.

 Your support of Brokenbelievers.com through your prayers and encouragement goes a long way. Linda and I need your help in this. We both need wisdom and a gentle hand on our lives. As we reach out, a ‘tinfoil hat’ is definitely not part of our acceptable head gear. 

The Father’s love embraces the torn and wounded consistently. This is the key to the healing of a broken heart.

When It’s Far Too Dark

Depression has been called the “common cold” of mental disorders, and one source estimates that it disrupts the lives of 30 to 40 million Americans.

But for many, a “cold” isn’t even close to describing their depression; it’s often very challenging and very destructive.
Here are nine things you must do right now:
  • Avoid being alone.  Force yourself to be with people. (I know “force” is a strong word, but if that is what it takes!) You must find fellowship now.
  • Go to church. God’s people and wise elders can direct and guide you. The Church is God’s way of helping you walk through darkness and depression. They’re to be a source of authentic blessing to those who struggle.
  • Seek help from medical professionals. This will probably require some humility.  Reach out to someone who will understand. (There meds that might help you.)
  • Sing out loud. It sounds crazy, but music can uplift your spirit as it did for King Saul (1 Samuel 16:14-23). Get an iPod and fill it with good music. Praise and give thanks.  This can really push back the darkness.  
  • Lean heavily on the power of God’s Word. Write out verses; listen to the teachers Tear apart a book of the Bible and then put it back together!.
  • Read the Psalms, for these really are God’s medicine for your spirit. Each one of them are divinely inspired; they have been tried over and over through many centuries by believers as a book of prayer. They’re for any need you might have.
  • Learn conversational prayer. Talk to your Father as you would talk to a friend. He’s waitung for you to come closer. Don’t get religious here, rather just talk to Him. Also, listen. He likes to talk too.
  • Rest confidently in the presence of God’s Spirit.Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance” Psalm 42:5. 
  • Remember that God is not against you, He is definitely on your side. He’s very close to you right now. “The Lord is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18.

“So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?”

Romans 8:31-32, Message

“God is the one who began this good work in you, and I am certain that he won’t stop before it is complete on the day that Christ Jesus returns”

Philippians 1:6

Please keep coming back to Brokenbelievers. 

Use the search button on the site. You’ll find lots of good teaching which can help you sort things out.  There over 1,400 posts available here, and we maybe can help. And if you comment on any post, or via email we’ll read it, so much of this ministry comes when we connect with each others like this. 

Linda and I are no meand medical professionals, however, I’m an evangelical pastor, and Linda is a wise believer who has lived through many storms. We both have been challenged with being disciples of Jesus, having had our times in the dark. We promise to help, if we can.  And we both can pray.

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