Strength For the Journey

                                                                                          Strength For The Journey (2021 All Rights Reserved IGBATT)
 
If allowed to control your thoughts, feelings of hopelessness can prevent you from living the kind of life that God intended. Feelings of hopelessness can cause us to act as if things in our lives will never change and give up on our dreams and desires.

Many of you are just going through the motions in life. The drive and determination that you once had to believe God is gone. Hopeless feelings have caused you to feel as if your life is worthless.

You are just drifting through life. You are getting up in the morning, going to work, and coming home. You are doing the things that you need to do, but you are not going beyond that. When you hear scriptures or messages that tell you “God will do it,” you don’t have the strength to believe. Your life circumstance and situations have left you feeling dead inside and feeling “nothing.” Hopelessness has invaded your spirit and is threatening to shake your faith.

Hopelessness is not just a thought, but it’s a feeling that can get into your spirit. And once it gets into you, it controls your entire life. Feelings of hopelessness do not just cause people to say “I feel hopeless” and sit home and do nothing. You see, many people feel hopeless on the inside but are busy on the outside. They are quoting scriptures, encouraging everyone else, but they are empty inside. These people are busy, but their spirits are “down,” and they are not in the same place they once were spiritually.

Feelings of hopelessness can keep us from believing in God at the level that He desires for us. Not every believer is living at the optimal level of his or her faith. Everyone is not walking in all that God has for them because their hope has been shaken. Once your confidence becomes “shaky,” you are vulnerable to being overwhelmed by hopelessness. It becomes difficult for you to believe in God.

We should be increasing in our faith, not digressing or staying still. What happened to what you once believed about God and His Word? Like a bucket with a small hole in it that is leaking water slowly, some of us have been leaking out strength and faith for so long that we don’t know when it started. Thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are connected. Your behavior is an indicator of what you are thinking and feeling. Why are you so tired? Why are you just “blah” when it comes to the promise of God for life? You smile, nod, and feel nothing. Listen, you ran well, but what is hindering you?

When your hope is shaken, your faith is impacted. And without faith, you can not advance any further than you are now. Without hope, you don’t have the spiritual energy that you need.
It is one thing to pray about a situation for one week or two days. It’s another thing to have to believe for a month or years. It is in the waiting that our hope can fade. Can your hope sustain the journey? If not, lose yourself in Jesus Christ.

Losing your hope can work out for your good. How? When we lose our hope, what we are losing is our confidence in ourselves. When what God said to you does not come to pass, many of us become depressed, angry, and hopeless.

But, if we can keep holding on, God will give us a revelation of Him in our lives. You may feel depressed or sad about how things are going in your life now. You may have quoted scriptures, and nothing has happened. But are you repeating the right scripture for the right season you are in? If the Lord has ordained a season of drought for your life now and you are expecting rain, of course, you are going to feel overwhelmed. Ask the Lord to show you how He is feeling, what He is thinking and what season He has you in. Then align yourself with Him. Yes, you want instant healing, but He may choose to do it a different way. Yes, you wanted to have children, not to be a widower, to live in a mansion, but that is not where you are. Accept where you are now. Acceptance does not mean giving up; it means aligning yourself with what God is doing in your life and trusting Him in the now. Ask Him for a strategy for a plan.

The problem is not the illness, symptom, or circumstances. The Lord has taken into account what is going on. If you have a persistent mental illness or illness like diabetes, you will have symptoms. The symptoms do not have to hold you back.

Have you stopped to ask God to reveal His plans for your life? Maybe it’s not God’s will for you to be healed instantly. Maybe God has a greater purpose in mind. Maybe He wants to bless you with the sufficiency of His Grace.

God has a purpose for you being here. God said to Jeremiah, and He is saying to you, “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. But before you get to the expected end, you may have to go through a process of “nothingness” or change.

When we are moving into something new, there is sometimes a process of change that must occur. In this process of change, there are at least three phases: the death phase. It is not uncommon during the death process to feel disenchanted or discouraged by what we see or don’t see. The key here is not to allow your feelings to push you away from God. The key is to keep going.



Spiritual Impact

Spiritual Impact – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2021

What is a mental illness? According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), mental illness can be described as ” medical conditions that disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning”. 

Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character, or poor upbringing. Any part of the body to include the brain, can become sick or diseased. Mental illness can affect all aspects of a person’s life, including how you live, work, raise children, and relate to the world around you. Mental illness impacts the brain and how we process information.

There are several categories of mental illness, and the degree to which a person is impacted will vary. Untreated mental illnesses can affect us both naturally and spiritually. Naturally, untreated mental illness can negatively impact:

  1. Our families (time/commitment/stress/money/home disruptions/lead to abuse)
  2. The individual (may be unable to work, have a family, engage in society and or school. Live with shame and or low self-esteem)
  3. Legal system (jail is becoming the largest holder of the mentally ill, courts tied up with nuisance cases)
  4. Health (people with a mental illness die on average 25 years earlier due to untreated medical conditions, injury, suicide.

But there is a spiritual impact as well. Man has a spirit, soul, and body. Anything that impacts one area can affect the other areas of our lives. Spiritually the symptoms of an untreated mental illness can:

  1. Leave us tired
  2. Unmotivated
  3. Lead to a loss of hope and faith
  4. Our spirits become susceptible to anything. We have no spiritual defense. Negative coping behaviors that we used to engage in we find ourselves practicing again. 
  5. We can become burned out
  6. Life becomes hard as we do not have the spiritual strength we once had. We withdraw and don’t feel like doing anything
  7. Untreated mental illness can decrease our resistance and lead to ongoing stress. 
  8. Untreated mental illnesses can impact how we relate to others in the Body of Christ. We start to become irritable, angry. We take advantage of others and begin to operate in pride. 
  9. We stop praying, reading the Bible, and trusting Jesus Christ

In the Bible, we see Moses and Elijah, both great men who had a season of depression. In the natural, we can study the lives of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, and even Mother Theresa to see examples of depression and or burnout. In a quote from Mother Theresa, she states, “I am told God loves me and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul.” Mother Theresa, a woman whose life touched many, got to a point in her life when she said, “nothing touches her soul”. An untreated mental illness, a period of untreated sadness, ongoing burnout can lead to spiritual burn out.

But there is help.

In the natural, there are medications, counseling/therapy to include Christian counseling or pastoral counseling. But when an untreated mental illness has touched your spirit, you need more than medications, counseling, or a pastor. You need the healing power of Jesus Christ to restore you.

If something negative is allowed to get into your spirit and stay there, it can destroy you. How does something get into our souls? By words. Negative or anti-christ words (words contrary to God’s Word) that we begin to meditate on weaken us. When we are weak spiritually, it is harder to resist those words that tell you that it is over, words that cause you to question your faith and walk with God. 

Not everyone with a mental illness is weak spiritually because they have learned to cope with what they are going through. But some people are. When you have been experiencing the same negative thoughts/feelings repeatedly, it is easy to lose hope. It is one thing to believe God for one month, one year, but it is another thing to believe him for years. 

Long-term stress tires you out physically and spiritually. 

What to do?

  1. Get help (mental or spiritual)
  2. Come back to Jesus
  3. Don’t neglect to spend time with him (one on one)
  4. Rest/Sleep
  5. Do things you enjoy
  6. Make changes in your schedule
  7. Get a DVD player and just let the wordplay even if you don’t listen to it
  8. Remind your self of the things the Lord said to you before
  9. Challenge your thoughts with the Word of God. Just because you think/feel something does not mean that it is true
  10. Fast/Pray
  11. Be content in the season that He has for you. If you pray and nothing appears to be changing, it could be for a reason
  12. Talk to people. Engage in life. Do not isolate (there may be times isolation is good, but this should not be an ongoing practice)


Manage The Crisis

Be Prepared. Don’t Wait Until A Crisis Happens. (IGBATTMHO. ALL Rights Reserved 2021)

If you are a family member of someone with a mental illness or are living with the illness, prepare. Do not wait until the last minute to obtain phone numbers, information and support. Depending on the mental illness, we know that another episode is pending.
Develop a strategy and plan now. Calling the police for a mental health crisis should be the last thing you have to do.
No, we are not telling you to call the police but we are encouraging you to plan. If you were living with diabetes or hypertension, you would make sure that you took your medications and regularly checked your blood pressure levels. Why? Because you understand that you are living with an illness that must be managed. Well, just like any other illness, mental illnesses have to be managed. You have to pray, read your word, and fast. Depending on the symptoms, you will have to take your medications, manage your stress and develop a healthy support team. Plan. If you had to go to the hospital, start planning before you are discharged. When you first get your mental health diagnosis, begin to plan. When you see or experience an increase in symptoms, pay attention. Relapse does not just happen overnight. Relapse occurs over time.
Foundation of a Spiritual Preparation Plan
 
Identify your anchor scripture. What is the one scripture that gives you strength and hope? Take that scripture, write it on a piece of paper, and then place that paper somewhere you can see it. That scripture should be one that reminds you of the strength and power of God. Sometimes, when we are feeling depressed and can only see and feel the
depression, negative feelings make it easy to believe that we are useless and do not measure up. When your life feels difficult and alone with your thoughts, it is easy to become your worst enemy. How? With your ideas. You can start feeling like a burden, that people are against you, and you never do anything right. Identify your anchor scripture, and if needed, repeat it to yourself over and over again. When your negative thoughts and feelings talk to you, talk back to those thoughts and feelings with the Word of God. Your emotions can only tell you what it knows. But the Word of God is God’s word in written form, and it is the only thing that can speak to your past, present and future. Your anchor scripture is designed to encourage you and remind you that you are loved by a strong and might God.
Gather information. Gather information about your symptoms or those of a loved one. Ask?
1. What are you/loved one like before the symptoms become active?
2. What are your hobbies?
3. What things do you like to do when you are feeling good?
4. What is the diagnosis? What medications are you taking?
5. Where do you get the medications? What is the name of the Doctor and treatment team?
Begin to ask questions. Questions such as:
1. What pharmacy fills the prescriptions?
2. How would you get medicines in a crisis?
3. If you could not reach your doctor or treatment team in a crisis, who could you call?
4. Is there a crisis team in your area?
5. Are there police officers in your area who are trained in mental health response? (There are plenty in the US).
6. What strategies can you use to help yourself or your loved one before getting to the point where you need to call the police?
7. What are your or your loved one’s triggers?
8. What are the ongoing symptoms?
9. How do you or your loved one manage stress? How can you tell when you are becoming stressed? (Mental illness are made worse by stress)
10. Who will pay your bills if you are unable to do it? How are you going to pay the bills? (Direct deposit, friend, etc.)
11. If you are the caretaker, what would your loved one do if left alone? Do they have a phone number or person to call?
12. If there is a Crisis Team in your area, how do you reach them? What is the phone number? How do you reach them? What are their hours? (Crisis teams can respond in the place of or with the police. However, in dangerous situations, always call the police first.
13. What is the name of your loved one’s doctor or treatment team?
14. What medications are they on?
15. Does your pharmacist deliver?
16. Who are the supportive people in your circle? How can they help? Do they know what you expect from them?
 
Belive that Jesus Christ came that you might have life and life more abundantly. No illness can take away the love and purpose He has for our life. He is not limited by your illness. If you yield to the season that you are in while continuing to trust Him, He will not fail you. 

Assessment – After gathering information and asking questions, take an evaluation of the answers. Identify and list the weaknesses that you have uncovered. Assess what you need and what resources you have in place.

Talk to people in your community. God never meant for us to exist in a vacuum. To develop your plan, reach out to other people and ask questions. Pray and trust God but reach out to people. You are not alone in this. An excellent place to start is your local state mental health agency. https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/



Who?

Mental Illness

Why does a Christian become mentally ill? Is it a result of demon possession, faulty thinking, chemical imbalances, or a combination of all three? We can answer this question many ways but what is most important for us to know is that with God the why really does not matter. There is nothing made that god did not make (St john 1-3).

God will use whatever means is needed based on your situation to help you obtain wholeness and wellness. For some people healing may come as a result of a prayer, others through the use of therapy or medications. Still others may be healed by a spoken word from the Holy Scriptures. I submit to you that if we acknowledge god in the midst of what ever is going on with us he will direct us in the path he has designed for us to take. As I looked at the scriptures, I noticed that only in a few cases did they specifically tell us why an individual was sick. I noticed that in many of the cases in which Jesus healed someone he did not ask why. The scriptures just let us know that he healed.  To bring about repentance, Unclean spirit, Demon Possession and so that God can be glorified were just some of the why’ that I was able to find from the scripture. Again, the why is not important I list it here just to bring a balance into what we will be talking about.

  1. Repentance; In Daniel Chapter 4, we see that Nebuchadnezzar’s mental illness was

a result of gods desire to teach him who God Is. Prior to his illness the king had a dream that he did not understand but it was Daniel who interrupeted his dream. The latter part of verse 4:35 reads  “till thou know that the most high ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will” and at the end of the appointed time we see that the king did indeed learn that lesson 4:37 we read “Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the king of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.

  1. Under the control of an unclean spirit – 24 we are introduced to a person who was just simply under the control of an unclean sprit Possessed: In Mathew 9:32 we are told that this person was simply possessed with a devil.
  1. In St Mark 1_23 and St Math 9:33 we see that sickness is a way for the glory of god could be seen.

However, in many other scriptures we see that Jesus just healed. He just dealt with what was instead of trying to place blame or find out why.  In St Matthew Chapter 8:16 we see that “they brought unto him  many who were possessed with devils, and he cast out the spirits with his word and healed those who were sick.

In St Mark 3:10 we are told that he healed many

When we look at the story of Hezekiah we see that God healed with the use of a fig. Naman was healed as a result of his obedience to the prophet. For others healing comes through therapy or medication. Whether it is through the spoken word, a touch, a prayer, or counseling it is sill God at work in your life. And no one should feel bad, upset, or sad because they are not healed in the way other people say that they should be healed. Being sick is not an indictment against your faith. According to the scripture, In  St John chapter, 9 we see that Jesus and his apostles passed by a place in which they encountered a blind man. In looking at the man the disciples asked Jesus who sinned was it the man or his parents that he was born blind. In looking at mental illness many people are asking what  type of sin did this person commit that he or she is unable to get victory over there thoughts, they wonder in what area is this persons faith lacking and what sin is he or she holding on to that is impending their deliverance. But we can learn from the answer that

Jesus gave to his apostles that sin is not always the answer to a person’s sickness.

When an individual suffering from a mental illness get up every morning and goes to work, cooks takes care of a family, comes to church despite the feelings of clinical depression and intrusive thoughts that is nothing less than the power of god being manifested.  Sis AL, IGBATTMHO ALL Rights Reserved



Moving Wounded

Christians do suffer from mental illness, and all mental illness is not a result of demonic activity. Many of us have developed coping mechanisms that allowed us to cope with the negative events that have happened to us in our lives. Some of those coping mechanisms were good some were not. In other words, patterns to include sinful ones can develop because of the sins perpetrated against us. When we are saved, we confess our sins and develop a godly lifestyle that would not be conducive to sin. We pray, fast and trust God. When we are saved, deliverance will come but the manifestations may not be instant. This does not mean we are not saved.

 

And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. St Luke 17:14

 

We believe that in the area of mental health God heals some people instantly and others are healed through medications, therapy or counseling. Because the bible tells us that every good and perfect gift comes from the father above we feel that whatever way a person is healed it is still God. We feel that it is god’s ideal plan that Christians would receive healing through his word and that everything we could ever need for our life is in god. When Adam disobeyed god in the Garden of Eden, he attempted to cover himself with a garment of leaves. Sin entered into the world. Sin is an act, violation of, or want of obedience to the revealed will of God. Sin is in our flesh and produces all manner of evil

Desires (Rom 7:8). Sin manifests itself in erroneous concepts (thoughts, ideas) and practices. Gd in his kindness and mercy knew that that garment was insufficient so he himself covered Adam by shedding the blood of an animal. When the men during the time of Moses were killing their wives in order to get rid of them god allowed divorce due to the hardness of their heart. When god’s chosen people continued to defame his name among the gentile’s god declared that he would act because his name was on the line. Whenever we fail to come up to the standards that god has set for us god is so kind and merciful that he provides us with a way of escape. A way that will not allow us to be overcome by the enemy.

 

 In the days of the early church instant healings were common places. In past generations of our church history Saints of god prayed, read the word and walked in the ways of god to an extent not seen today. How many people have you seen instantly healed?  When was the last time you laid hands on someone and they were delivered? Does the problem lie with god and his word or with you? I believe that medications and the field of psychology were not God’s first idea. However because of the sin and mans inability to connect with god in a real way god permitted these things to be so.

 

It is interesting that we can suffer from all types of physical illnesses but cannot believe that the brain could be sick. When the brain is sick it affects our thoughts and feelings. As I said before all mental illnesses/disorders are not a result of demonic activity. Some disorders are due to biological and physical problems. Though there is no doubt that demonic influences, old maladaptive patterns, and the flesh can aggravate the problems.  But a mental illness is an illness that can be treated.



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