Hello Darkness My Old Friend

O LORD, GOD of my salvation, I cry out to you by day. I come to You at night. Now hear my prayer; listen to my cry. For my life is full of troubles, and death draws near. I am as good as dead, like a strong man with no strength left. They have left me among the dead, and I lie like a corpse in a grave. I am forgotten, cut off from Your care. You have thrown me into the lowest pit, into the darkest depths. Your anger weighs me down; with wave after wave You have engulfed me. You have driven my friends away by making me repulsive to them. I am in a trap with no way of escape. My eyes are blinded by my tears. Each day I beg for Your help, O LORD; I lift my hands to You for mercy. Are Your wonderful deeds of any use to the dead? Do the dead rise up and praise You? Can those in the grave declare Your unfailing love? Can they proclaim Your faithfulness in the place of destruction? Can the darkness speak of Your wonderful deeds? Can anyone in the land of forgetfulness talk about Your righteousness? O LORD, I cry out to You. I will keep on pleading day by day. O LORD, why do You reject me? Why do You turn Your face from me? I have been sick and close to death since my youth. I stand helpless and desperate before Your terrors. Your fierce anger has overwhelmed me. Your terrors have paralyzed me. They swirl around me like floodwaters all day long. They have engulfed me completely. You have taken away my companions and loved ones. Darkness is my closest friend.
Psalms 88:1‭-‬18 NLT

https://bible.com/bible/116/psa.88.1-18.NLT

If you stop reading here, you’ll probably be filled with hopelessness and despair. This Psalm was written by Heman the Ezrahite, a Temple musician, song leader, and a wise and worshipful man. This psalm shows that anyone can suffer from depression. Even the great scholar and preacher Charles Spurgeon suffered terribly from depression. No matter how strongly you believe in God and salvation, depression can be a serious issue. There are many possible causes: situational, systemic (chemical imbalance), physical issues, satanic, or spiritual, but there are things God can teach us in the darkness that we cannot learn in the light. Like in verse 7, it can feel as though God is pouring out His wrath on us, even though we know He doesn’t do that. This Psalm shows that God truly knows how we feel.

Did you know that depression is the leading cause of disability in the U.S.? Statistically, we are the saddest, most depressed nation in the world. There’s plenty to be depressed about. Man made viruses, abortion on demand, war and rumors of war, violence threatened against conservatism, out of control inflation, food shortages, the highest gas prices in decades (ever?), and the utter confusion our kids and young people are dealing with with multiple genders and the LGB+ agenda being crammed down their throats from every side. Christians are constantly being attacked, in print and in the news as being bigoted. Being white or light skin automatically labels you as racist. It isn’t okay to be patriotic for our own country or to want our own country safe from invaders ….. but you’d better support sending billions of dollars to other countries to defend their borders! (It’s kind of depressing to me to even write about it!)

What can we do? How do we deal with depression? Keep talking to GOD! Tell Him everything. Cry to Him and with Him. Even our hymns show that other Christians struggle with depression and understand our needs from being depressed: “I need You, Oh, I need You….” “I must tell Jesus”…. Be reverent, but also be honest with God. Be persistent in prayer, even if you are being repetitious. Let the Spirit speak when you can’t form the words. We deserve the darkness because of our sins, but because of JESUS, we don’t have to dwell in it! “No pit is so deep, that He is not deeper still” – Corrie Ten Boom. Don’t be ashamed or let anyone embarrass you for needing antidepressants to help you out of the pit of depression. God gave us doctors for a reason. Let the LORD set you free from the darkness!

I will sing of the Lord’s unfailing love forever! Young and old will hear of your faithfulness. Your unfailing love will last forever. Your faithfulness is as enduring as the heavens.
Psalms 89:1‭-‬2 NLT

https://bible.com/bible/116/psa.89.1-2.NLT

When I Am Weak

“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NASB1995

When I am weak…… That’s easy. Its pretty much 24/7. Even when I think I’m strong, I’m weak. I’m weak in the flesh. I’m weak in my faith.
Lord meet me in my weakness. I trust that You are good, that You have me and my future in the palm of Your hands. If You are all I have, that is enough. If You are all that I’ll ever have, You will forever be enough!

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:1‭-‬5 NASB1995

Do you have God’s strength? Are your weaknesses covered by His strength? Christ alone is the answer to all the trials and persecution we are dealing with, today and every day.

Know God? Know Peace.

No God? No peace!

When, O LORD, When?

“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” “ 1 Samuel 16:7 NASB

When, O LORD, when?

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 NASB

When, O LORD, when?

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” Psalms 32:8 NASB

When, O LORD, when?

“ ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord , ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’ ” Jeremiah 29:11 NASB

When, O LORD, when?

I haven’t been very patient in my life. I’ve made a lot of poor choices, trying to push God into giving me what I wanted. I’m trying, LORD. I’m just not very good at letting go of my desires and giving You control.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 NASB

I’m holding on to this promise.

Seek HIM First

“This is the LORD’S doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalms 118:23‭-‬24 NASB

I think every part of my body hurts this morning; every muscle, every joint, even my brain. My eyeballs hurt. I am weary. I have to be thankful, though, because it slows me down so that I can see what a beautiful morning God has given us. It’s a very unusual morning for Oklahoma in August. At 7am, the temperature is in the high 60’s, and it is calm. There’s only an occasional breeze that floats by like a whisper. The birds are singing, and other than the birdsong, it is quiet. Since I live in an urban neighborhood, that’s pretty unusual, too!

“Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40:30‭-‬31 NASB

Move forward. Remember that God is in control. No matter how bad it gets. Frustration, aches and pains, irritations, aggravations will all pass well. Look for the good in everything. I am alive. I’m not unhealthy (well, mostly!!), I have a home and 2 dogs who think I’m the best thing since sliced bread – especially when I share it with them!

Will life get tough? Oh, yes. Will bad things happen? Without a doubt. Will people disappoint you, betray you, let you down? Absolutely.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 NASB

GOD will never disappoint, He will never betray, He will never let you down. When everything looks black, when everyone has let you down, turn to Jesus.

Listen to Casting Crowns’ song East to West. Here’s part:

I start the day, the war begins
Endless reminding of my sin
And time and time again
Your truth is drowned out by the storm I’m in
Today I feel like I’m just one mistake away
From you leaving me this way

Jesus, can you show me just how far the east is from the west?

‘Cause I can’t bear to see the man I’ve been
Rising up in me again
In the arms of your mercy I find rest
You know just how far the east is from the west
From one scarred hand to the other
I know you’ve washed me white
Turned my darkness into light
I need your peace to get me through
To get me through this night
I can’t live by what I feel
But by the truth your word reveals
And I’m not holding onto you
But you’re holding onto me
You’re holding onto me

JESUS is the answer. No one else will get through this life with you without hurting you. He is THE Way. THE Truth, and The Light. He is LIFE.

Can I get an Amen?

ALL LIVES MATTER

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13‭-‬14 NASB

I’m so tired of seeing my nation, my world, being divided by color of skin. We are Americans. Not African or Irish or Chinese or Mexican or Italian or any other country. We can’t let politicians, who are really only interested in themselves, divide us! Seriously, people! If you hold dual citizenship with another country, then by all means identity with it! Any British-Americans? German-American? Guyana-Americans? See what I mean? I honestly don’t understand why someone wants to self identify as part of a country other than the one they were born in, unless they want to move to that country to live. African-American is very widely used and claimed by hundreds of thousands of Americans. Why? Are they or their parents from Africa? Besides which, Africa isn’t even a country. It’s a continent. I know, we Americans have appropriated the name of the continent we are on as the name of our country, but understand that the world also refers to citizens of the United States as Americans. Are people from Ethiopia considered African, or Ethiopian? Kenyan, or African? Ugandan, or African? See the question?

Racism is promoted and perpetuated by the insistence of some people to identify as anything other than as Americans. I really don’t understand. I was actually polled the other night (a first!) and when asked what race I was, I answered “American.” I know it’s not a race, but neither is African-American. I should have answered “human”, because there is only one race. Sure, we have thousands of cultures and as many colors, but there is only one race, human. It would behoove us all to grasp onto that fact.

I love my country and the melting pot that it is. I will continue to pray for my country and that somehow, people will see through all this “racial” divisiveness, and I will do everything in my power to defend my country from our enemies, both within and without. Celebrate the diversity of all of our beautiful skin colors and cultural differences, but, please, don’t fight over them!

Jesus is the answer. The only answer. Come to Him today. Jesus said:

“I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6 NASB

Defender

You may have noticed I haven’t posted in a few weeks. For a moment, I let the worries of the world overtake me. For many people, and for many reasons, this most beautiful season is also the most difficult. Could be that a loved one isn’t present for a variety of reasons. It can be because of a lack of funds or other inability to serve people we love. Depression hits hard. Despondency is widespread.
Psalm‬ ‭42:11‬ ‭AMPC‬‬ declares, “Why are you cast down, O my inner self? And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, Who is the help of my countenance, and my God.”

Francesca Battistelli and Steffany Gretzinger were singing “Defender” on the radio as I read this verse this morning:
When I thought I lost me
You knew where I left me
You reintroduced me to Your love
You picked up all my pieces
Put me back together
You are the defender of my heart

Then I heard “Casting Cares” by Finding Favor:
When fear feels bigger than my faith
And struggles steal my breath away
When my back’s pressed up against the wall
With the weight of my worries stacked up tall
You’re strong enough to hold it all

God’s Word answers my fears, our fears, and His musicians sing the words I/we need to hear. HE is the Defender, our Strength and our Deliverer. HE takes care of the weak, the frightened, the lonely. HE is always here with us, if we just open our eyes, our hands, and our hearts to Him.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40:28‭-‬31 NASB

ivan-96 / Getty Images

Afflicted, But NOT Broken

“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16‭-‬18 NASB

Listen to Hillsong UNITED Good Grace:

Don’t let your heart be troubled

Hold your head up high

Don’t fear no evil

Fix your eyes on this one truth

God is madly in love with you

Take courage

Hold on

Be strong

Remember where our help comes from

Jesus

Our redemption

Our salvation

Is in His blood

Jesus

Light of heaven

Friend forever

His kingdom come

We are never alone. No matter what we are are currently struggling with. Who we are struggling to get along with. Circumstance, people, things, any outside influence – there will always be something working against us. That’s just the way of this broken world. Every day we make choices, and one of those choices is how deeply we will allow the enemy to afflict us. We don’t get to choose the type of affliction, or even how much effect it will have on us physically. Our choice is much deeper, soul deep. On the outside, I may be broken, afflicted by a physical illness or other limitation; I might be homesick, or homeless, broke, financially ruined, separated from loved ones. Inside, in my soul, that’s what counts.

Anything we face, everything we endure in this life is truly “momentary, light affliction“. As Paul says,

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, …..” 2 Corinthians 4:7‭-‬9‭, ‬17 NASB

I’m not making light of any affliction or anyone’s struggles. God alone knows what you (and I) are dealing with. The one thing we need to focus on is this: no matter what it is we face now on this earth, the eternity we face as believers in the LORD Jesus Christ will more than make up for it. I can’t even imagine the agony awaiting those who reject Him. That is our choice, people. The single biggest choice that anyone, anywhere, anytime will face. Either you are for Him, or you are against Him.

Where do you stand?

Weeping

“For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.” Psalms 30:5 NASB https://bible.com/bible/100/psa.30.5.NASB

Weeping. Not trying to be flippant about it, but I feel like the morning is never going to get here. Am I alone in feeling like this?

The details aren’t important, because everyone is facing their own giants. Right now, mine are overwhelming me with their menace. Personally, spiritually, emotionally; I lay myself at the foot of the cross.

Paybacks

But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” Genesis 50:19‭-‬20 NASB

I’m so tired of living my life in fear of how I’m going to get through it financially; of how I’m going to survive the month. I’m tired of living in fear of growing old alone. I’m tired of being rejected from job after job, because they “decided to go in a different direction.” What does that even mean???

Let me be clear: My choices brought me to this point. God did not do this to me. He didn’t cause me to make poor financial decisions, and He certainly didn’t encourage me to trust men who would lie, steal, and cheat me. He didn’t put those men in my path. No, all of the bad choices are mine, and mine alone, and once again I am faced with payback for [some of?] those bad choices. I don’t know how to pray about all this. I think I am searching for God’s will, but am I really just trying to get Him to accept my wishes?

“In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the Mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:26‭-‬27 NASB

Tauren Wells has a song God’s Not Done With You, and a devotional by the same name on https://bible.com. When you are struggling with the unfairness and the paybacks of this life, lean on these truths. Paybacks happen in life, but it is very reassuring to me that my life is not dependent on them. My GOD is in control; I just have to trust Him. Not an easy thing for someone whose trust has been broken by man, over and over again ….. but it can be done. Remember, “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38‭-‬39 NASB

NOTHING. No enemy and no “payback” that he can throw at us can take us away from GOD. God, THE God; Creator, Saviour, Lover and LORD of humanity, is not dead, He is not diminished in any way by the enemy’s devilry and mischief. The LORD is ALIVE, and He is NOT done with me – or you! – yet!