Category Archives: Despair

Negative feelings are truly awful. They paralyse and debilitate and make us feel overwhelmed and crush our spirit.

Negative feelings are difficult to shake off, and I have never had the ability to compartmentalise my feelings by locking them away for a later date. I am consumed by them.

I have to learn not to listen to the lies that come into my mind. Sometimes they come with force like a huge violent wave. When they are believed,  feelings of despair are never far away. 

I think that my last blog is the link. Feeling flat, not having the energy to read and pray, and Satan seeing a huge chink in my armour. 

Satan is an expert in understanding and exploiting our weaknesses. He loves it when we leave the armour off. Christians who aren’t praying are a huge target. 

Yesterday I was overwhelmed by shame. When I try to break it down, I realise it’s because I’m still hung up about people’s perception of us now.

Thankfully, the only validation that we need comes through Jesus. 

When our mood is low, sometimes it seems impossible to be braced and prepared for those fiery darts. God is near to all who call on him in faith. As I am writing this I am struggling,  but I know it’s the truth.

This is a hard lesson to learn and I’m very slow to grasp it. I need to be always braced and there are good reasons that God tells us to pray continually.  I haven’t prayed as I should have done this week and I have struggled with pride. I want to feel affirmed by others and I want to look good in the world’s eyes.


Praying for grace and help to resist the lies of the devil, and for forgiveness once again as I come to the cross. 

“Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.”

Psalm 32

Every blog I have written so far I’ve asked my husband to read.  I wouldn’t want to publish anything unless he sees it first, and he’s been kind and supportive about me expressing myself in this way. He has encouraged me, even when it’s hurtful and upsetting for him to read.

I have observed  that living with guilt is an awful thing. It produces nothing good. It manifested itself in ways that were unkind and hurtful. I felt that the friend I once understood, I understood no longer.

But  God is kind, and orchestrated many things to enable him to step back into the light. God was gracious in putting key people in place to love and support him as he confessed all. 

Confessing is hard because we are in Satan’s territory. Satan blatantly shouts his lies about the consequences of  revealing all, and my husband believed those lies and he became despairing. Satan’s  desire is destruction and separation from God. He wants Christian marriages  to be broken and damaged and delights in disharmony and conflict. Because God is kind,  He always makes a way through for the Christian on the wrong path. 

Whatever the consequences that we face because of sin, stepping into the light is always the best way. Whether it’s saying sorry to someone we have been unkind to, or facing and dealing with situations that heavily impact others -the only way for peace, and restored relationship with God is to get out of Satan’s kingdom by confessing all and coming to the cross.We cannot experience God’s love and joy with a known barrier that we are unwilling to deal with. The consequences may seem overwhelming, but to be outside God’s kingdom and care is even worse.

 I really believe that when we are willing to lose all, in order to do the right thing before God, he is gracious and kind. The worst fear for my husband was that he would lose me. In fact, God has given me a huge heart for him. It’s all grace when we are willing to confess all.

For me, Inconsistency is now replaced with consistency. That consistency is filled with kindness and gentleness. I thank God for the change I now see, for relationships that are mending and healing, and for satan’s lies that although believed, were indeed just lies. 

Galatians 5:22-23 says:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

I have been reading through Galatians this morning, and I have been reminded of the beauty of living with Christ in view. God is so kind and generous in the way he enables us to respond to one another by  his Spirit. 

 That simple list seems at first glance to to be such an easy thing. And it is easy to react like that with those who please us, those  we get on with, and those who make us feel safe.

These verses become less easy when we are hurt, under the cosh, and offended. I was struck also by these verses in Ezekiel which reminded me that any goodness we have is a gift. 

In  Ezekiel ch 36 :25 God says to his people,

 ” I will sprinkle clean water on you and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees.” 
Praying that the Holy Spirit does his work in our hearts today, enabling us to go God’s way; being kind to those who have hurt us. Not avoiding or giving the cold shoulder to those who have offended us. Reacting with gentleness and kindness in the face of unkindness.
We need Gods help, it goes against our natural inclination. But God is willing and able and He loves to pour his grace on those who want to go his way, for his glory.

Who is the man who fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way he should choose. (Psalm 25:12)

When we are overwhelmed 

“But my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is is made perfect in weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me”

(2 Corinthians 12:9)

There are many situations that I feel overwhelmed by. Sometimes it’s just getting up in the morning. Sometimes it’s the thought of having to find work after the trauma of the last months. I feel overwhelmed in the night when I wake up because I have a knot in my stomach and can’t remember why. I have been overwhelmed living in a new place. I’ve struggled in a new church and I am finding it hard to connect with strangers when I feel disconnected and grief stricken.

My heart hurts as my children go on this excruciating journey of working things through, and I have felt pained, and been in agony for them.

I am totally overwhelmed.

If my faith is real, God will eventually see me through. I may feel that my situation won’t right itself, but I know that God is using it to teach and to grow me.

So, I don’t need to fear, but I do need to trust in the one who knows it all. All I can do is take one day at a time and rest in the knowledge that I will get through this because his grace is sufficient and his power is perfect in my weakness.

Back to the cross I go.

Yesterday was an atrocious day. I felt bitterness in my heart from early on, and it went unchecked all day. It almost felt like I was feeling the full force of hurt and betrayal for the very first time. At 2:31 am, I had not slept a wink. The full force of bitterness was marching over my heart and taking up residence. Bitterness was occupying my heart like the enemy in war time.

In the small hours, I opened a book of daily readings at April 16. The book is called “a year’s journey with God” by Jennifer Rees Larcombe.

The verse was:

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the well spring of life.”

She says:

” as Christians we feel we shouldn’t let things wind us up so we ignore the internal grazes and bruises and even pretend to ourselves that our hearts are not crushed by disapproval or unkindness or ripped open by betrayal. When Jesus said he had come to “mend the broken- hearted”, surely He was promising to heal these wounds, but I honestly think He can’t do that without our willingness to forgive the person who has hurt us.”

I have a close friend who often says to me, ” back to the cross you go then!” I have had to come to this place over and over again. When we let bitterness reign we allow Satan to take up residence in our hearts and minds and it produces nothing good and opposes all that Jesus says is right.

The longer I leave bitterness, the harder it seems to hand ownership back to God. This causes strife and bitterness. I was robbed of joy yesterday, and in the early hours of this morning, and I found myself wondering if I had a relationship with God at all. I felt blackness and despair which was too awful to describe.

To react well when we are feeling hurt is nigh on impossible. Reacting with ill grace is our natural bent. Sin from the beginning of time has manifested itself in blame and sulking. Adam blames Eve, and Eve blames the serpent.

Sadly, very early on, we are often aware that we are going down a wrong path. We know how outrageous our behaviour is, and how unkind we are being, but getting off that road hurts our pride too much, so we doggedly stay on it. The results are never good and never worth it.

So the advice from my friend is key : ” back to the cross we go!”

Paul says in Romans 7:19

“For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.”

I am finding this process exhausting and overwhelming, but thankfully the cross is never barred and God’s mercy is ever present to draw upon in our time of need.

Letting go of the past and accepting the now.

I have found it very difficult accepting that my past life has now gone.

After many years in one place, friendships are formed and cemented. To be able to walk in the community where you live, and meet people that you’ve known over many years is wonderful – but I took it for granted. I love the familiar and I hate change.

My closest friends were those I studied the bible with. I have found that my friendships have been the very best that they can be, when they have been fused around the word of God. But it takes years to cultivate friendships where honesty, accountability and transparency reign. I think that growing together around God’s word fosters love and friendship like nothing else can. These people become forever friends.

To lose this without having any sort of forewarning or preparation devastated and traumatised me.

5 months on I am still struggling to accept loss of all. I feel like I’ve gone through the stages of bereavement, but I’m still stuck at no 2 at times, and have not yet come to terms with no 5.

  1. Denial and isolation
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

Being torn from all I loved has been the most traumatic thing I have ever experienced. I have felt completely overwhelmed and disconnected. It has been very challenging working through how I should react to all of this. I have not yet arrived and I am struggling to accept the new life that has been given me.

A verse that was very precious to me is found in Jeremiah 29 v 11

” I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
This was a tricky verse for me to grasp. I asked the Lord that we would be above reproach, and he gave me shame.

I have been torn away from my life and everything I know and love. And yet this verse has got to be true if we are in God’s kingdom. I don’t understand God’s plans, but I know that in this severe and overwhelming trial that has felt cruel and unpleasant, God has been at work in my life and he has taught me through it.

These are the things that I am learning ;

  1. That God is good all the time.
  2. That God never forsakes us, even though we may feel like we are in a psalm 46 situation, and that the mountains have fallen into the heart of the sea.
  3. That through severe trials God is revealing my sinful reactions and actions and humbles me.
  4. That Im not in control and I can’t fix it.
  5. That Satan is far more subtle and devious than we can ever imagine and I need to pray constantly and suit up in God’s armour.
  6. I need to hand control over to God and leave it there without clawing it back.
  7. That I can choose how I react – I can choose joy over anxiety and calm over panic.
  8. That I can leave the ones I love to God and entrust them to him, and not fret over their welfare or spiritual growth.
  9. That forgiveness is a very hard thing, and this shows us the huge forgiveness God has shown us in Jesus.
  10. That marriage isn’t about fulfilling our hopes and dreams , but sanctifies us by showing us our selfishness and pride and prepares us for heaven.
  11. Understanding the importance of cultivating our relationship with the only person who ultimately matters. God is the only person who truly satisfies.

So I need to accept that even though I don’t understand any of this, God does, and rather than looking back longingly at what I’ve lost, I need to look forward and accept what God has given me now. I know this in theory, but as yet, I have not worked it through in practice.

Paul says in Philippians 4:12

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength”

Dear Lord,

Thank you that you know all things. Help me to trust you when the path I am on is dark and unfamiliar. Help me to understand that although this has taken me by surprise, nothing comes as a surprise to you. Help me to accept and know contentment with what I now have, and not look back longingly to what has been taken away. Use me in the new life you have now given me for your glory.

Amen

The hard act of Forgiveness

This was the beginning of confronting my heart issue, and what I saw was hard to acknowledge. I had been desperately hurt yet God expected me to forgive, just like that! It seemed so unfair!

God had taken me to this parable 3 times in 3 days, and I couldn’t put this down to coincidence. I felt like Samuel, and I needed to say ” speak Lord, for your servant is listening”. (1 Samuel 3:10)

So I went back to that parable. That shocking picture in Matthew 18 of the servant who had been forgiven such a huge debt. The forgiveness of that kind King had saved him, saved his family, saved his life – the debt was paid in full with no record kept. How that man must have felt like he was walking on air coming out of the king’s palace – all debt wiped clean. It was as though that servant never had a debt in the first place. The record of wrong was gone.

We can look at this story and think how terrible that servant was for being so ungracious and unforgiving, but we are all that servant if we don’t forgive one another. God has loved and forgiven us so much. We don’t deserve that forgiveness, We deserve hell and alienation from God. I began to realise that if I didn’t show forgiveness I was like that unmerciful servant. Jesus commands us to forgive, just as he has forgiven us. If we refuse to, bitterness binds around our heart and mindset and robs us of joy and relationship with God.

Mark 11:25 says:

And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your father also who us in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

Matthew 6 :14 says:

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will forgive you also.

Colossians 3:13 says:

Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

So I came to realise that if we love God, we must model Jesus however hard this is. And that meant forgiving, no matter what response we get back. To me, this felt like getting into a big ice bath and being asked to put my shoulders under.

But I knew with my whole heart that my attitude and heart was wrong. And I asked God for help.

When I eventually got to the place of asking the Lord to bless the person I once wanted to curse, I knew that I had forgiven. It was a liberating and a wonderful place to be, and God is waiting to help and sustain all of us who desire to do what is right before him.

God is an amazing God, who by his grace changes our mindset and our hearts. But it’s a choice that we have to take. We need to work out our responses with an understanding that God expects us to forgive, as he has forgiven us. If we stubbornly refuse to forgive others, when we have been forgiven so much, there are consequences for the actions we decide to take. For that unmerciful servant The King responded like this:

Then the master called the servant in.” You wicked servant,” he said “I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

This is how my Heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.

With all of this knowledge about forgiveness in my heart and mind, I was now cruelly confronted with my husband’s adultery ; my life had been smashed to pieces, I had lost my home, my church and my community. I knew what was right before God, I had learned to submit to God once before the hard way, and God had already taught me about the consequences of not forgiving. I had to grant forgiveness and pray that God would help my emotions catch up with my will.

Thank you Lord that you are gracious and compassionate, and love to forgive contrite sinners.

Thank you for the Lord Jesus who was willing to suffer so much so that we can know that forgiveness.

Help us to forgive others because you have forgiven me so much.

Thank you for your Spirit which helps us to say ” No” to ungodliness and enables us to live in a way that’s pleasing to you.

Help us to live like him day by day, and as we will put on that full armour of God we will resist the devil’s fiery darts.

Amen

Choosing our emotions…

Rejoice in the Lord always. I say it again: Rejoice! Philippians. 4:4

I have always been a worrier. As a child I worried about many things, but more than anything else I worried about death. I was always frightened that I was not forgiven, and as as a small girl I would sometimes knock on my parents door in the depths of the night asking them to pray with me.

As I have gone through life, I still worry, but I can now mask my anxiety more, and to my shame, the worries that I commit to God I usually claw back in order to fret over them some more.

This situation has been completely overwhelming, which has taken worry to a whole new level.

I fretted about:

  • God’s honour
  • The church
  • The kids
  • The damage done
  • How to fix it
  • How I couldn’t fix it
  • Becoming lepers
  • Gossip
  • Reputation
  • Money
  • Where we would live
  • The terrible consequences of my husband’s actions
  • What people now thought of my husband

It went on a loop, night and day, day and night. I was exhausted, and depressed and broken.

Our lovely mentors came and gave us counsel.

It was a very simple piece of advice:

“Don’t be anxious, choose joy!”

I felt hurt and overwhelmed… How do I choose joy in the situation I’m in? I have been hurt, ripped from my home, lost my church family and my community….. I’m broken and distraught, living in a place I don’t know, and I have a continual knot in my stomach. I’m depressed and can’t get out of bed in the morning but you’re telling me to choose joy?!

But in fact, this is what the bible teaches:

Philippians 4:4 says: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Matthew 6 25-34 is also very clear: Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?….

Matthew 6- 27: Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

So as I sat in our lounge sobbing with our friends, they counselled me to choose joy and to not to be anxious. I found this so difficult, but it was at this point that I began to understand that I needed to trust God and cling to his promises. Satan is on the prowl and will use any weakness we have to keep us from being effective and productive for God’s service. I was beginning to realise that all my life, anxiety had hindered me from enjoying God’s peace and joy. I needed to hand all my anxieties over to him.

This was such a huge revelation to me and I realised how much I had sinned and offended God in the past, never leaving my anxiety with him. How hard to change a habit of a lifetime, and I had to come to the cross.

This was my prayer:

Dear lord,

All my life I have worried about many things. I have given them over to you only to claw them back again. Forgive me of my sin and thank you for revealing it to me. I realise that Satan has won many battles in my life, and robbed me of peace and joy over many years. I pray that I may now choose joy over anxiety. This is possible because you have commanded it: therefore help, equip and protect me from all the darts of the evil one. You know my Achilles heel – enable me to honour you in choosing joy and peace when all I want to do is fret and be worn down by anxiety.Thank you for Jesus, who bore all our sins for us, so that I can now come to you in repentance and faith.

Amen

This revelation has impacted my life. Choosing joy, I’m discovering, is an ongoing act of the will. Reacting rightly is so difficult, but God will help and equip us as we draw on him for the strength.

2 Peter 1:3 says: His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

When everything is lost

” in my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help.”

Psalm 18 v6

When you look at an amazing vista and try to capture it on your camera it’s often such a disappointment because it just doesn’t translate – what you see with your naked eye isn’t captured on film.

Expressing how I felt in the hours and days and weeks that followed is a bit like taking that photo – my words didn’t fully translate, and I couldn’t express the full horror and heartache of the situation I found myself in. I didn’t think it was possible to feel so utterly bereft and forsaken.
God is so incredibly kind in giving us his word. I found that under pressure, when everything in my life had crumbled, God was with me.
During this time my thoughts often went to Jonah. I can’t begin to imagine how he felt in the situation he found himself in.
He cries to God:
“In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. I said “I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again towards your holy temple.” Jonah ch 2
I felt like Jonah. We had lost everything. We had to leave everything we knew and everyone we loved. I felt utterly bereft and alone, distraught and disconnected from life. My anxiety was great and worsened as the people I knew and loved were now out of reach. My husband’s sin had separated me from everything I knew and my grief was overwhelming. God had taken away the church I loved. I could no longer be part of it. I felt completely and utterly bereft and my heart was broken into a thousand pieces.

I cried out to God in my pain and told him:

Lord I really don’t understand why you have allowed this confusion and pain… How can this be part of your plan? How will I ever recover from this?

Help me to trust you in this devastating tsunami. I know you can make a way when there isn’t one and you can shine your light in the deepest foulest darkness. So Lord, help this situation to be used for your glory even though at this time I can see no way through. Help me to learn of you through this, and help me not to become bitter and full of self pity. Lord, help me to shine brightly and carry the load you have given me for your glory. Amen