Dinged Up Disciples, [But No Separation]

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“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?”

Romans 8:35, NLT

A simple question is asked. Our response is requested, and expected. We must settle this in our thinking in order to progress with Him. Why? Three reasons.

  • There is something inside of us that militates against God, and the things of God.
  • We have an active enemy that has declared war on our soul.
  • The world we live in is both cruel and very hard at times.

But again, the question remains– “Who can separate us from Christ’s love?” Paul lists the seven issues that might scramble us:

  1. trouble 
  2. calamity
  3. persecution
  4. hunger
  5. destitution
  6. danger
  7. threatened with death

Each one carries its unique twist. Some are general, others more specific. They do overlap, but each are distinct. Each are hostile and mean. I think what Paul is seeing is that believers face “magnetic suffering.” Certain things that are weirdly attracted to us, and we can’t do a thing to change them.

These seven are offered as reasons we find ourselves struggling so hard. But even in them, the apostle declares a victory. They won’t— shouldn’t—can’t really divide us from Jesus’ love.

An ant would have an easier time stopping a roaring freight train!

Paul reminds us again, in the midst our sad and savage situation, that Jesus Christ isn’t even slightly turned back. His love is ‘outrageously’ outrageous. We must keep this close to our hearts. It is truly all we have– but it is also all we need.

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Roadside Assistance, [Word]

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A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.

I look up to the mountains—
    does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble;
    the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord himself watches over you!
    The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm
    and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
    both now and forever.

Psalm 121, New Living Translation

“A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.”

Travelling in biblical times was not easy, everyone walked. Pilgrims on the way to Jerusalem (three times a year) would travel in large groups for safety and companionship. For many the journey would take five or six days, and it meant about 20 miles a day. This ‘song’ was sung corporately as the people walked; it contained truths that would encourage them. Perhaps these are lessons are still living for us today.


 I look up to the mountains—
    does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth!”

The hills or ‘high places’ are centers for pagan worship, so a singular question is asked. “Is this where help will come?” Verse 2 gives an affirming answer and declares a confidence in the Almighty God.


3 “He will not let you stumble;
    the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    never slumbers or sleeps.”

God is very protective, He is hyper-vigilant over those who call on His name. There is never been a time when He is caught off guard. It is good for our souls to meditate on this constant security. He doesn’t sleep, ever.


5 “The Lord himself watches over you!
    The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon at night.”

 

I once had the ‘joy’ of sacking bags of rock in the blistering sun in August. I caught myself scanning the sky, wishing for just one cloud to block out the baking heat. In the tropics, an umbrella is commonly used to shield oneself from the sun in the middle of the day. The reference to the moon is the idea that over exposure to it was as harmful as the sun could be.


 7 “The Lord keeps you from all harm
    and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
    both now and forever.”

One of the most common images of God is that of a diligent shepherd watching over his sheep. The metaphor is used frequently and carries the connotation of continual care and attention. When I think on this it gives me great comfort.

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These all are conditional promises that, although they are true, they won’t give you a pass through heartache and trial. But God promises to measure out each affliction with pain-staking carefulness. He is always, always, always present no matter what.

“What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord,
    who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.”

Psalm 84:5

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An Inconvenient Madness, [A Broken Believer]

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Very simply, bipolar disorder is characterized by mood swings that are defined by major shifts between incredible mania and clinical depression. It’s usually intense and quite disabling.

Depression: There are days when I wake up and I don’t like what I see in the mirror. At times a deep and profound sadness seems to grip me like a vise. It’s like a huge heavy grey cloak covers me, and I can’t shake it off. Typically I hide and crawl into bed for weeks at a time. All is hopeless and I despair of life. I am irrevocably lost. This is bipolar depression and I’m slowly learning that I can shake it free.

Mania: When I’m manic it’s as though I have wings! I’m blasted with a special grace which makes me creative and intelligent and superior to mere mortals.  I become energetically impulsive and irritably crass. It’s all about ME! Thankfully these times don’t happen too often. These moods don’t last long but they’re intense. A measure of freedom can also be found.

Medication prescribed by my psychiatrist helps smooth things out. It was hard to adjust to taking them, but now I know I did the right thing. It’s been over 10 years since my diagnosis and I suppose I have the dubious honor of just surviving. I have several scars on my wrists that remind me of a long journey. Those afflicted will understand.

It’s been suggested that bipolar people can become more empathetic and sensitive to the suffering of others. I’d like to believe that this is true. This seems like a biblical idea.

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”

2 Corinthians 1:4, NLT

 “The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary.”

Isaiah 50:4

For the broken believer, I’m confident that the Lord can turn my mental illness into something positive and good. The Holy Spirit empowers the Christian to do the extraordinary. It’s in our weaknesses we can become strong. We are fully enough in Christ. (2 Corinthians 12:9).

I stepped down from my positions as a pastor and a Bible instructor when the bipolar symptoms became clear. This wasn’t easy but I knew it was what God wanted. Today I still speak on occasion at a local Church.

I also minister here at brokenbelievers.com and http://www.lambfollowers.com.. I try to post everyday and I get constant feedback from those who are in need. Just a single post, a list of 24 hour crisis hotlines, averages 175 hits a day by itself! (https://brokenbelievers.com/247-crisis-lines/)

I do covet your prayers for both ministry sites.

This work would never have happened unless I was “detoured” by my bipolar.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

Romans 8:28

I want to urge you to look at the big picture of mental illness. Sure it can be remarkably disruptive, but the Lord can transform you. Meds and therapy are vital for me. Prayer and Bible reading even more so. You can find a way through this. It’s not easy. Don’t fight the illness. The Father works close to His “special” children. There is a real and abiding hope for you. I’m convinced you can find it.

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