Pressure

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When I started thinking about this topic, I first considered the oft used analogy of diamonds. You know the one. It takes a lot of pressure to make a diamond! If you’re going through a lot of pressure right now, don’t worry. Hang in there; someday you’ll be a beautiful diamond! Okay, sure, there’s value to the reference. But the truth is, if we were to only go through a tiny fraction of the real pressure carbon has to undergo before it turns into a diamond, we would be a squishy mess. I don’t even like headaches. Little ones. I’m a weeny like that. The truth is, we’re all undergoing various kinds of pressure, such as: physical, the actual results of the virus or emotional, the fear of getting sick and the financial fallout due to shuttered or severely limited businesses. Often those physical and mental/emotional stresses meld together as one transforms and intensifies the other. Stress can and does take a huge toll on our minds and bodies. Attempts to minimize or ignore what we’re going through don’t really reduce our suffering or give us healing.

So…
Ask for help. Our society, despite all the ways we’re technically connected, is in ways more disconnected that ever, especially during this time when we have a reason to distance ourselves physically. That can be an even bigger challenge for introverts like me, as we’re already prone to isolating ourselves. Always keeping things to yourself and trying to be your own hero has limitations and can even make things worse. You wouldn’t tell someone with a broken leg to just walk it off. Why would you tell yourself or anyone else to ignore a life disrupting mental or emotional issue? Take advantage of resources. Even if some offices remain closed, many professionals are available for phone or internet consultations who weren’t before the current crisis. Ask questions and be your own best advocate. Also, be on the lookout for others who need help. Go out of your way to be a human life preserver.

Don’t neglect yourself spiritually. Trust God to help you in your time of need. Jesus Christ was clear when he directed his followers. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. John 10:10-11 ESV The Apostle Paul writes, Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 ESV Finally, know that God has a plan for your life. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 ESV

From my deepest depths
I have sought you Jesus
my keeper and redeemer
You know best how I’m made
All ways I’m found wanting
have been covered and paid
You’ve purchased my eternity


I have assurance
my king Jesus
blessed assurance
for if You are for us
who can be against us?
No power on earth
can approach
that of your majesty.


I know peace
my shepherd, Jesus
my way maker, comforter
When the defects of this world
threaten with darkness to enfold
those I love and my life
you fill me with serenity


© Joel Tipple 4/25/2020

Please, God.


A child’s prayer: “Dear God, maybe Cain and Abel would not kill each other so much if they each had their own rooms. It works out OK with me and my brother.” belief.net

Last week one of our granddaughters had a medical emergency. I’ll tell you, no matter where you are in your relationship with God, this is one of those times you approach Him with all the vigor you can muster. The prayer might not sound pretty or sophisticated, but it’s real. “God, I’m worried. God, we need answers. God, give the doctors insight. God… help.” The second half of James 5:16 says, “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” Some translations replace “effective” with “fervent.” That’s the kind of prayer you utter when you really want to get God’s attention. God, this morning I was praying, but right now, I’m PRAYING!
In broad strokes, when I think about our relationship with God, I consider understanding God by reading the bible, and communicating with God by prayer. God makes it clear that our attitude toward Him needs to be one of contrition and honesty. If there is anything standing in the way of our relationship with God we need to get it out in the open. Sometimes that means sharing it with a brother or sister you trust. You could also tell a group of believers you meet with on a regular basis that you have a struggle you need prayer for. Use wisdom deciding how much to share, and with whom. In the same way secrets stand in the way of our personal relationships, refusing to bring issues to God and stubbornly refusing to give up stuff we know God doesn’t approve of will cause our relationship with Him to go cold. Over and over the Bible admonishes us to take our sins, our needs, and our praise to God, who welcomes us as His children.

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins they will be forgiven him. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
James 5:13-16 NASB

God, show me everything I am
the things I won’t look at,
the things you can’t stand.
Encourage in my life
what sings
of your glory and praise
that I’ll reflect your blessings
the rest of my days.


©Joel Tipple 2/29/2020

Sad For No Reason

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And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,
Matthew 14:23 NIV

In my lifetime our society has moved from not talking much about depression to being free to discuss its many manifestations and their treatments. Although there is still a lingering negative stigma to revealing openly one’s struggle with any sort of mental illness, our attitudes continue to evolve. We’ve come to understand that in one sense, a disease of the mind should not be viewed any differently than disease present in another part of the body. Part of the challenge of treating depression is the many ways it presents itself, both in type and severity, all the way from what we might call “the blues” to life-disrupting, debilitating clinical depression. Treatments depend on the individual and range from talk therapy to medication or a combination of the two. For myself, I believe we ignore our connection to God and his part in our healing at our peril.

In my early 20s, I, in essence, told God that, although I thought he was pretty awesome, I wanted to make a change in our relationship. I told God I thought we should just be friends. Now, who does that, really? Maybe all who claim to be Christians do at one time or another.  I may not have done it consciously, but what I tried to do (using a Facebook analogy) was unfollow God while still remaining friends. It was during these early years of my marriage to Lori that I experienced my first real bouts of depression. I was terribly sad and unsure, which made life at times tremendously difficult for my new wife. More than ever, we needed God to be the head of our household, but he was left in the hallway outside our $210 a month apartment.  The fact that we have stayed married through all the ups and downs of our life together can in part be attributed to our stubborn determination, but mostly it’s been God’s grace. Over the years I’ve learned some coping mechanisms for dealing with my own periods of depression, but I’ve found there is no substitute for my relationship with Jesus Christ, who certainly knew what it was like to be a human being.  There have been the typical life experiences to deal with that we all find challenging, like deaths and job loss, but also there have been times like earlier this week, when I simply found myself feeling unbearably sad, for no obvious reason. It is times like these when searching scripture and seeking the prayers of friends and family are my lifeline.

When night comes
but it’s not yet time for night.
When the fight comes
but you’ve no strength to fight,
God will hear you
and bear you up.

When you’re cold
but the fire’s still burning.
when you’re sad
but can’t tell why you’re hurting,
When you need a defender
whose aim is true.
That’s when God is there
to bear you up.

God makes time
and prayer
and doctors.
He makes room for us.
His schedule’s always open.
There’s nothing he hasn’t seen
from birth to death
and in between.
You can’t scare him away
because you’re frightened.
He’ll always bear you up.

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.
Psalm 40:1-3 NIV

© Joel Tipple 6/1/2019