The Test of a Profound Silence, [Extreme Faith]

void-of-silence 

But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging.”

Matthew 15:23, NLT

This is exceptional.  Jesus is always engaging people around him.  He teaches and preaches, fully energized by the Holy Spirit.  He is a veritable hurricane of goodness and love.  He heard every request, and healed every disease.  But yet.  On this occasion he is completely silent.

The woman’s piteous crying, and begging was seemingly ignored.  “If Jesus won’t respond to me, I will go to his followers.”  She presses, and cajoles.  She falls on her knees.  Have you ever seen a person truly beg?  It is a very disconcerting experience.  Yet, Jesus does nothing, in spite of being able to do all things.

She is a Canaanite; a pagan widow, and her daughter was demonized.  Curiously, there was a large heathen temple to Eshmun, the Canaanite god of healing, was just three miles down the road.  But her desperate cry was for something real.  Something authentic and real that would heal her daughter’s affliction.  Only Jesus has what she needs.

Jesus is astonishingly silent.  He stands and sees, he hears her cries.  She is sobbing, clutching at the disciples robes, disheveled and distressed.  It was a desperate scene. Very ugly and very sad.

Jesus responds to his disciple’s plea.  Then there is something that seems like a negotiation.  A protracted conversation with a ‘seemingly’ reluctant Messiah.  It is somewhat disturbing as we listen.  Jesus seems to treat her callously.  I have always been mystified by this, troubled by his behavior. I can only conclude that what he did was necessary in some way.

But the Son of God sees through this. 

And then she makes an incredible statement.  Jesus is suddenly amazed at her faith in him.  This faith is what he has been waiting to see. She may have known despair, but that isn’t enough. Jesus leads her from the edge. Until she moved to a position of belief, nothing will change. Faith seems to change everything.  This is key.  It isn’t her words that alters things– it is her heart!  At that moment, Jesus declares a healing for her daughter.  She is now free from the demon’s grip.

So often I have also felt the pressure from the darkness.  I am often embattled and driven into a despair that seems to cripple me.  But Jesus is waiting for me, to come to him through an unflinching faith.  My good works can never, ever be enough.  I’m just like a dog, waiting for food under the table.  I have little, if any, decorum or sophistication.  There is nothing at all, to commend me to him. Nothing at all.

“Our Lord sometimes yet seems to be silent to His people when they cry to Him. To all their earnest supplications He answers not a word. Is His silence a refusal? By no means. Ofttimes, at least, it is meant only to make the suppliants more earnest, and to prepare their hearts to receive richer and greater blessings. So when Christ is silent to our prayers, it is that we may be brought down in deeper humility at His feet, and that our hearts may be made more fit to receive heaven’s gifts and blessings.”

–J.R. Miller

1brobry-sig4

cropped-christiangraffiti1 (1)

A Woman’s Depression [Honesty]

Depression Fits the Hearts of Women

Women experience twice the rate of depression as men.

Women have twice the chances as men

Everyone experiences disappointment or sadness in life. When the “down” times last a long time or interfere with your ability to function, you may be suffering from a common medical illness called depression.

Major depression affects your mood, mind, body and behavior. Nearly 15 million Americans — one in 10 adults — experience depression each year, and about two-thirds don’t get the help they need.

Women experience twice the rate of depression as men, regardless of race or ethnic background. An estimated one in eight women will contend with a major depression in their lifetimes.

Researchers suspect that, rather than a single cause, many factors unique to women’s lives play a role in developing depression. These factors include: genetic and biological, reproductive, hormonal, abuse and oppression, interpersonal and certain psychological and personality characteristics.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Little interest or pleasure in doing things
  • Feeling down, depressed or hopeless
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep or sleeping too much
  • Feeling tired or having little energy
  • Poor appetite or overeating
  • Feeling bad about yourself, that you are a failure or have let yourself or your family down
  • Trouble concentrating on things, such as reading the newspaper or watching television
  • Moving or speaking so slowly that other people could have noticed or the opposite in that you are so fidgety or restless that you have been moving around a lot more than usual
  • Thoughts that you would be better off dead or of hurting yourself in some way

Women may be more likely to report certain symptoms, such as…

  • anxiety
  • somatization (the physical expression of mental distress)
  • increases in weight and appetite
  • oversleeping
  • outwardly expressed anger and hostility
 
Stay close to your friend

Helping a Woman with Depression

People with depression aren’t the only ones who suffer. Their friends and loved ones may experience worry, fear, uncertainty, guilt, confusion or even be more likely to go through depression themselves.

The situation may be especially trying if your loved one doesn’t realize that she is depressed. You can help by recognizing the symptoms of depression and pointing out that she has changed.

Recognize even atypical signs of depression. Women may be more likely to report certain symptoms, such as anxiety, physical pain, increases in weight and appetite, oversleeping and outwardly expressed anger and hostility. Women are also more likely to have another mental illness-such as eating disorders or anxiety disorders-present with depression, so be alert for depression if you know a woman with a history of mental illness.

To point out these changes without seeming accusatory or judgmental, it helps to use “I” statements, or sentences that start with “I.” Saying “I’ve noticed you seem to be feeling down and sleeping more” sounds less accusatory than “you’ve changed.”

Talking to a Woman with Depression

If a friend or loved one has depression, you may be trying to figure out how you can talk to her in a comforting and helpful way. This may be difficult for many reasons. She is probably feeling isolated, emotionally withdrawn, angry or hostile and sees the world in a negative light.

Although you may feel your efforts are rebuffed or unwelcome, she needs your support. You can simply be someone she can talk to and let her share her feelings.

It’s important to remember that depression is a medical illness. Her symptoms are not a sign of laziness or of feeling sorry for herself. She can’t just “snap out of it” by taking a more positive outlook on life.

Helpful responses include, “I am sorry you’re in so much pain” or “I can’t imagine what it’s like for you. It must be very difficult and lonely.” Instead of simply disagreeing with feelings she conveys, it is more helpful to point out realities and hope.

A woman with depression often expects to be rejected. You can reassure her that you will be there for her and ask if there’s anything you can do to make her life easier.

If your loved one is not diagnosed or not in treatment, the most important thing you can do is encourage her to see a health care professional.

*Never ignore statements about suicide.* Even if you don’t believe your loved one is serious, these thoughts should be reported to your friend’s doctor. If this is an emergency, call 9-1-1.


http://www.nami.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Mental_Illnesses/

Depression/Women_and_Depression/Women_and_Depression_Facts.htm


The Wonder of Abigail

She is known for her wisdom
She is known for her wisdom
Narrative from 1 Samuel 25
 

If she were a man, she would have been a prophet. She is wise, and very beautiful. That’s quite a combination. Her husband, Nabal, is a crude and rude, nasty dude. He cheats most he has dealings with. He is also a wealthy man, and he has had previous contact with David’s men. It seems that David provided protection for Nabal’s sheep and shepherds. Definitely a good thing to have in the wild and woolly Judean wilderness.

David sends a delegation of 10 men to ask for some special provisions. This would be a small  recognition of the service rendered by David’s men. Please note: Their simple request was not burdensome or excessive. They were not asking for wages, they just wanted a nice diversion– a party was anticipated. It was sheep shearing day.

Nabal essentially mocks this delegation. He laughs at them, calling them bandits who are in rebellion from King Saul. (Nabal, I suppose may have been trying to appeal to Saul.) Nabal sends the delegation away, with nothing to show for their efforts.

David is beside himself in anger, his men have been denied– and he has been publicly mocked. He quickly puts together a small army and moves directly against Nabal. His force  is enough to destroy everyone. His heart is full of vengeance. He moves to destroy Nabal. And then Abigail shows up.

Abigail is magnificent. She has been warned of Nabal’s insult that has triggered this potential massacre. She takes the initiative and launches out to meet David. She carries the deep scent of grace and humility with her. And she brought the provisions he had initially requested.

At the first sight of David, she throws herself down. She pleads for her people, and begs for mercy. It is interesting that she focuses on David himself. She appeals to David’s reputation, and seems more concerned about it than he does. But her intercession is more effective. In humility she speaks to David with a visible brokenness. She reminds David of his true identity. She declares to him, who he really is, and how he should behave, as a result. And David desperately needed to hear her voice.

lynnie1
Lynnie, my Abigail

Abigail deserves any focus we can place on her. Many years ago, a man placed his hands on my shoulders and prophesied. All I remember is this, “Your wife is an Abigail to you, she will be a source of wisdom and understanding to you. Listen, for she will be your wisdom,” This is the most significant word anyone has ever said to me. It has really shaped our marriage of 24 years.

Understand dear reader, my wife Lynn is my Abigail. She consistently brings me back to my true calling and purpose. She will not let me shake off my holy summons. Her words press me, and guide me into a place where I finally see His direction and purpose for me. She is God’s gift to me. I desperately need her to speak into my life. She is truly my wise Abigail. I am sure that her eternal crown will exceed mine.

%

ybic, Bryan

Cheryl Meakins Horizontal 300x200I recently have been introduced to Cheryl Meakens. She has a wonderful blog at http://www.meakinsspeak.com/.

I encourage you to visit her site. I believe she has something good for you.