WHAT ARE YOU DOING
YOU ARE NOT WINNING
I AM DISAPPOINT
WHAT ARE YOU DOING
YOU ARE NOT WINNING
I AM DISAPPOINT
giving me feelings
So my sermon’s all ready for tomorrow! Now I’m nervous.
What am I doing, speaking to my entire class of Bible students who are all older than me? Aaaaaaaaaah
Am I free?
The empty tomb is celebrated, because it is a symbol of our freedom. It is a reminder that Christ overcame both sin and death for us.
Scripture declares that Christ has set us free: we are free “from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2). We are no longer slaves of sin. We have been given new life, instead of death, the price of our sin.
Is this freedom instantaneous?
Are we completely free once we accept Christ’s salvation as paid for by his death on the cross? If that is the case, then why do so many Christians find themselves still trapped in the same destructive cycles that have plagued them for years?
Maybe some people do experience instant, miraculous freedom. But maybe not everyone.
Maybe for the rest of us, freedom must still be fought for. We are able to fight the battle, because Christ in on our side, but it’s not easy.
Maybe freedom is the slow breaking off of chains, little by little, one by one. Christ is in it and for it, but it’s long, and it takes perseverence.
Maybe freedom is becoming more and more aware of the power you have to serve God even though you are still enslaved. You are still trapped in it, but it becomes less and less able to hold you back.
We have freedom. It just doesn’t always look the way that we expect it to.
When God doesn’t make sense…
The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”
The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”
There was a written notice above him, which read: This is the King of the Jews.
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
- Luke 23:35-37
What were Jesus’s followers thinking when he died?
I thought he was God. I thought he was the Messiah. Why is he now dead? It’s true: I have seen his miracles - he has resurrected others from the dead! Now he himself is dead and buried in a tomb. Was he not powerful enough to save himself? Was he not God, after all? Have I given my life to a lie, or a trick?
I don’t understand how God could die.
A lot of things have happened that I am not able to reconcile with what I know of God’s character. I understand these questions. I understand that sometimes, or maybe a lot of the time, God doesn’t make sense.
Some people say that faith gives us answers.
Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Faith is not seeing. Faith is not understanding. Faith is having none of the answers, but still believing that God is who the Bible says he is.
Faith is what the other criminal crucified with Jesus had, when, even though God was dying, he decided to trust him:
But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
- Luke 23:39-41
This is the faith that allows me to shout today, “HE IS RISEN!”
He is risen indeed.
The price to pay for our sin.
We avoid it. It scares us. It means loss and pain.
Some seek it. Some challenge it. It means peace.
I have often heard, “death is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”
Once, though, death became a permanent solution to a permanent problem when the most perfect one died for all imperfection.
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
Out of the greatest love ever known, the Creator faced death, taking the place of every human created.
The price we owed.
The price that was paid by the one who did not owe anything.
It all just made sense in my mind.
I’ve been wondering for the longest time why Christians seem to have no problem with women who dress in more masculine clothing, but if a guy wears tighter jeans, let alone a skirt, he is ridiculed, or at least looked down upon by many.
BUT maybe feminine males and males who wear female clothing are often shown more disdain by society than masculine females and females who wear male clothing because masculinity is perceived as better, or stronger, or superior, so it’s natural that people would want to be more masculine. Femininity, while often emphasized as a requirement of women, is perceived as undesirable. By becoming less masculine, a man loses his privileged status as male and is seen as having become more inferior, and is thus treated with less respect.
I struggle with a message that I have been told explicitly and implicitly over the course of many years: the amount of daily Bible reading I do directly affects how many things go wrong in my life. I can be depressed and still be following God with everything I have. I can also be totally in love with God and blessed and provided for by him, yet not study the Bible every single day. I need to remind myself that God’s blessings are not controlled by my works: I do not have the power to control God! He is so much more powerful than the number of Bible verses I can read in one day.
Besides, should I not be reading His word because I want to hear Him speak and I desire to learn more about Him? I am starting to believe that it is wrong to read the Bible with the only motivation being a fear of bad things happening if I do not. That is superstition, and an insult to the might of God, the King of kings and the Creator of time and space and everything within them. It is an insult to say that the creation can control the Creator by merely reading a certain amount of His words a certain amount of times. I am struck, tonight, by the foolishness the whole idea, for the Bible does not change God. It changes me.
The thing about chivalry is that I don’t want someone to be kind to me just because I’m female. Do it because that’s what you would do for anyone.
So now I’m actually seriously considering doing an MDiv with a major in clinical counselling once I finish my BATh YM PCC. How did this happen?
That awkward moment when you think it’s 11:11 so you make a wish, but it’s actually 11:17…
By: Hannah Shewchuk
Submitted to: Prof. Allan Waine
GS1202 - Cross Cultural Studies
April 19, 2012
Despite the fact that depression and suicide affect a surprising number of people, both the church and the secular culture keep silent on it. When the church does speak up on it, there is often a misunderstanding of the causes, leading to solutions that do not help.
Depression is a problem that affects many Canadians. At least 1 in every 20 Canadians meet the criteria for major depression or bipolar 1 disorder (Government of Canada, 2006, p. 30). More than one in ten Canadians will experience major depression at some point during their lifetime (Health Canada, 2009). To emphasize this point and put it into perspective, a minister once opened a sermon on the topic this way:
Suppose I were to ask you to stand if ever in your life you considered about suicide, or thought about it seriously. (I won’t do that.) Suppose I asked you to stand if you ever attempted suicide, or attempted it more than once. I might call out for those whose lives have been affected by somebody else’s suicide. Maybe you’d be challenged to confront the “family secret” or to think more directly about the crash that everyone euphemistically calls “the accident.” I daresay most of us would be on our feet! This is a real issue we cannot deny, and it is inside as well as outside the faith community (Clemons, 1989, p. 121).
However, although many people’s lives have been touched by it, there is much stigma associated with depression and thoughts of suicide in today’s society. The majority of people struggling with depression and suicidal ideation feel embarrassed by it and face discrimination because of it (Government of Canada, 2006, p. 41). The consideration of suicide and the act itself, especially, is looked down upon in all areas of society. This causes silence on the subject and a reluctance of those who are struggling to get help (Government of Canada, 2006, p. 112-113).
Depression and suicide are rarely discussed in the church, either, and when they are, they are not presented accurately. One pastor pointed out that “in looking back a while ago over virtually a lifetime of preaching, I realized that not only had I never preached on the subject, I’d never heard anyone else do so” (Clemons, 1989, p. 64). In fact, many people believe that one cannot be a Christian and be depressed (Clemons, 1989, p. 105). One woman dealing with depression, after having tried almost everything, was told by a Christian counselor that she had “displeased God and he is punishing you by sending depression. Otherwise you are demon possessed” (Hart, 1987, p. 22). While this happened over 25 years ago, it is still not an unusual response from uninformed Christians today. Hart mentions hearing a prominent radio preacher say, “If you walk close to God, you’ll never be depressed” (1987, p. 23). Hart points out, though, that one of his friends - despite having a strong faith in God and being quite involved in the church – went through a period of significant depression (1987, p. 27). Even strong Christians are not immune to depression.
This stigma is a result of those who have not previously experienced depression and thoughts of suicide finding the thought process behind it very difficult to understand.
None of us sees the hurt through the sufferer’s eyes. None of us feels the embarrassment and shame of those who hold such heavy burdens on their souls. We cannot readily imagine the mental or physical burden that leads some people to this end (Clemons, 1989, p. 114).
We do not really know what they are going through, and because depression is such a serious topic, we are afraid to approach it. It seems all too easy to ask the wrong questions or say the wrong thing that will just make it worse (Clemons, 1989, p. 44-45). This fear of failure or aggravating the problem deters people and scares them away from even attempting to reach out.
Furthermore, many people simply do not understand the reasons why (Demy & Stewart, 1997, p. 430). It is difficult to comprehend the other person’s point of view, especially with it being such a secret struggle. In fact, the way that many people react to someone struggling with depression can be compared to interacting with someone from a different culture. In both situations, we must communicate with someone whose thinking is very different from our own and whose perception of the world around them is deeply affected by their depression (Moriarty, 2006, p. 16-18).
The fashion in which addressing depression and thoughts of suicide is approached and the way in which we respond to those who struggle with it is crucial. Principles for dealing with culture stress show that when we approach these differences in thinking with fear, suspicion, and prejudice, we set ourselves up for further difficulties. Furthermore, if we choose to criticize, rationalize, or withdraw as a result of the tension between these differences, the result is alienation of those we need to be reaching and isolation from those who struggle (Waine, 2012).
As Christians we have a responsibility to do what we can to help those who are battling depression and thoughts of suicide. “To extend the hand of human compassion, tenderness, and helpfulness: is this not the mission God gives us?” (Clemons, 1989, p. 106).
Therefore, instead of approaching and responding negatively to depression and suicide, we can choose to react positively. When we approach these differences in thinking and perceiving the world with openness, acceptance, and trust, we will much more easily reach out to those who are hurting. When we choose to respond to their hurt by observing, listening, and inquiring, the end result is rapport and understanding (Waine, 2012).
Depression is a secret battle that is often fought alone. The problem with this is that battles are never fought alone. A lone soldier cannot expect to win a battle against an army; others must fight with him. In the same way, people struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide need people who will fight with them. An unconditionally loving community and supportive friends are invaluable to finding healing.
Community, especially that like the sort which ought to be found in the church, is an enormous factor in mental health. “A common denominator of recovery is the presence of people who believe in and stand by the person in need of recovery” (Government of Canada, 2006, p. 48). There needs to be a group of people behind them who absolutely will not give up on them. This is one of the most important elements in regaining mental wellness. “Seemingly universal in the recovery concept is the notion that critical to one’s recovery is a person or persons in whom one can trust to “be there” in times of need” (Government of Canada, 2006, p. 48).
Some people believe that they need special training to reach out to those with depression, but while professional help may be necessary, friendship and community have an enormous and extremely important impact. “The normal expressions of depression: sadness, grief, and discouragement will often yield to the expression of care from understanding friends and loved ones” (Hart, 1987, p. 17).
Furthermore, participation in the church is recognized as having the potential to bring healing because it brings a sense of belonging somewhere. “A sense of connectedness, an attachment to the community, networks within the community, and participation in a church or other community group are considered to be major positive factors in mental health” (Government of Canada, 2006, p. 19). The church, simply by including and accepting those who are hurting and lonely into its community can make an immense difference in their lives.
In his book, Hart additionally outlines three ways that anyone can help someone they know who is depressed: compassion, determination, and effective listening (Hart, 1987, p. 105-108). These are things that Christians ought to be doing anyways. We ought to be showing compassion, trying to understand people’s pain and finding ways to reduce that pain rather than ignoring them or condemning from afar (Colossians 3:12). We should not be unaffected by the pain of the people around us. We ought to have determination when coming alongside people (James 5:11). They need to know that we will never give up on them (Hart, 1987, p. 107). Finally, we ought to be listening to other people more, focussing less on ourselves and more on others. People should not have to pay someone just to listen to them so that they can finally be heard (Hart, 1987, p. 108). Listening should be the priority, hearing them out first and find out about what they are going through before offering up advice (Hart, 1987, p. 111). Simply listening shows that we care about them. Often all it takes to save a life is to listen to someone’s story, hear their problems out, and support and encourage them in any way that we can (Clemons, 1989, p. 84).
Lastly, the church cannot afford to avoid addressing depression and suicide any longer. Talking about suicide is the biggest deterrent (Clemons, 1989, p. 28), and speaking out about depression is necessary. It “may also be instrumental not only in encouraging people to seek care, but also in creating a supportive environment for the individual” (Government of Canada, 2006, p. 49). We need to make the church a safe place to talk about depression and suicide as well as a place where those who struggle with it will be loved and supported by the community of believers. The church has the potential to make a huge difference in the lives of those who battle depression and thoughts of suicide (Demy & Stewart, 1997, p. 447). It is time we do so.
Clemens, J. T. (Ed.). (1989). Sermons on Suicide. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster/John Knox Press.
Demy, T. J. & Stewart, G. P. (Eds.). (1997). Suicide - A Christian Response: Crucial Considerations for Choosing Life. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications.
Government of Canada. (2006). The Human Face of Mental Health and Mental Illness in Canada. Ottawa, Ontario: Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada.
Hart, A. D. (1987). Counseling the Depressed. Dallas, Texas: Word Publishing.
Health Canada. (2009). It’s Your Health - Mental Health - Depression. Retrieved April 18, 2012 from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/diseases-maladies/depression-eng.php
Moriarty, G. (2006). Pastoral Care of Depression: Helping Clients Heal Their Relationship With God. New York, New York: The Haworth Pastoral Press.
Waine, A. (2012). Cross Cultural Studies. [class handout]. School of World Discipleship. Vanguard College, Edmonton.