A young family walked past our window, the parents laughing while their son rolled along the sidewalk on his tricycle.
Zoom! A streak of black fur whizzed past my feet. My dog, Cheerio, reached the wall and jumped up onto the chair beside the window. He barked furiously at the small family that had dared to walk on his sidewalk. They turned to look for the source of the noise, smiled at the puppy face in the window, and continued walking unconcerned.
Cheerio has proclaimed himself as the guardian of our house. He takes his job very seriously. Wherever I am in the house, he parks himself next to the closest window, sticks his nose against the glass, and scrutinizes the front yard for movement.
Today as I was watching Cheerio, I was reminded of 1 Corinthians 16:13 which says, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” Cheerio has got the “be on your guard” part down pretty well.
One of the most damaging things to a Christian, depression, can also be most stealthy in entering our lives. That is why we need to be especially watchful in looking out for it. As soon as we catch it, we can sound the alarm in prayer to God just like Cheerio does when he barks at an unwanted visitor. When we catch unhelpful and untrue thoughts in our minds, we can combat them with the armor of God that is talked about in Ephesians 6.
Cheerio does a great job of keeping watch from far away. However, if he finds an insect in our house, he leaps a few feet back in surprise and fear before venturing forward to investigate. Even though he is thousands of times larger than the tiny insect, he treats it as though it were enormous. Problems like depression can also seem insurmountable. But with God, we have all the strength and truth to defeat the lies of depression.
Be like Cheerio in keeping watch over your life. What prayers or verses do you find helpful to combat depression?
Fire engines rushed noisily down the small street curving through my town-house neighborhood. I looked out my window to see that the screaming sirens had woken up most of our community, and now people in their pajamas hurried towards a house down the road. I grabbed a coat and went to join them around the scene. Smoke billowed from the top story of a town-home similar to my own. Most of the windows had been broken in an attempt to remove some of the heat and smoke. A steady stream of water ran down the street because of the massive fire hoses the firemen had been forced to use a few minutes ago. The men hustled in and out of the house, some carrying what few things could be salvaged – a parakeet, furniture that had been obstructing their work, and some unrecognizable items. Apparently the family was not at home. I kept thinking how terrible it would be to return to a home destroyed by a chance fire.
The next morning, the family, a middle-aged couple, stood outside surveying the damage. This place where they had built there lives for the last few years now bore the marks of the fire that had destroyed it. In just a few hours, their lives had changed forever.
Have you ever had to watch your life go up in flames? Maybe in not such an obvious way as this family did. But things like divorce, the death of a friend, or moving to a new area can often feel like our lives are being turned upside down.
I have good news about that family whose house looked unlivable. Just a couple of days later, the man was clearing the damage from the windows. Things were not so hopeless as they first seemed. After rebuilding some of the walls inside and doing work on the roof, the house might even be livable again. Take that as an encouragement in your own hopeless situation. No matter how terrible your circumstances seem right now, God is right beside you. He will help you rebuild.
“I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!” – Psalm 27:13
What a wonderful verse to remember when things don’t seem to be going well. We shall look upon the goodness of the Lord, even if it doesn’t seem like it right now.
“…for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6b
Another sob escaped into the cold air around me and I hoped no one had heard. A puddle of tears already soaked the pillow beneath my head that served to muffle the sound. It was another three day weekend away from my mom and the comfort of home. I was visiting my dad’s house like I did every weekend, but this weekend was especially hard because it was a day longer than normal. Besides that, it was my ninth birthday. Today I had woken to the familiar heart-ache of being homesick and lonely, magnified by the thought of being alone in a strange place on my birthday.
I didn’t know at the time that God had specifically promised to be with me all the time. He said he would “never leave me or forsake me,” not even when I felt forsaken by other people.
Even though I hadn’t seen Deuteronomy 31:6 or the other places in the Bible where God makes his promise of unfailing love and care towards me, I knew that God was there with me. I could feel his arms wrap around me and assure me that it would be okay. He spoke words of comfort to my heart until the last tear dried and I lay still, listening to cars pass outside my window.
Do you feel alone? Maybe you have been disappointed by someone close to you, or maybe you feel invisible in a big school. There is One who has promised to be there for you no matter what. He wants to develop the friendship between you. Will you let Him?
Click on the link to listen to a song by Group 1 Crew:
“But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus -the work of telling others the Good News about God’s wonderful kindness and love. –Acts 20:24
Many people think life is pointless. Of course, most of those people would never say it that way. Television flashes its set of values as though advertising a fast food restaurant – it looks good on the outside and gives momentary appeal, but it doesn’t satisfy in the end. What happens when you strip away T.V., society-approved morals and look into the lives beneath? Empty people living for a fantasy. Why should we be any different?
We should be different because of what Paul says in Acts 20:24. Paul was speaking this verse to the elders of the church in Ephesus just before he set sail to Jerusalem. He knew by the Holy Spirit that he would be imprisoned there because of his faith. But even with this knowledge, he said that it would be worth it because his life was devoted to spreading the Gospel! Like Paul, we have a defined purpose given us by God. We are part of the glorious work of bringing the good news of salvation to the world.
That one little verse in the middle of Acts should change the way we live. We should wake up in the morning thinking about our goals as children of God. We don’t have long on this earth to be part of God’s work, but He has given us this time to try to bring as many people as possible into the kingdom of God.
Next time you are tempted to live your life in a way which tells people life is pointless, stop and remember the message of Acts 20:24.
Betsie and Corrie ten Boom stood looking at their cold and cramped new home – the barracks at the Ravensbruck Concentration Camp . This place was supposed to be better than where they had just come from, but so far it did not look to be that way. The worst part was the thousands of fleas that swarmed in the beds, on the floor, and worst of all on the hundreds of crowded women. “Betsie, how can we live in such a place!” Corrie wailed as she looked around and winced at the pain of another flea biting her.
Betsie looked at the straw bunk she would be sharing with four other women. “Corrie, God has already given us the answer! Would you read what we read this morning to me again?”
Corrie slipped the tattered bible out from a pouch where she kept it under her clothes. “1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, ‘Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus’” She looked halfheartedly around the room.
“That’s it, Corrie! ‘Give thanks in all circumstances.’” Betsie bowed her head. “Lord, thank you that we are able to be here together. Thank you that we are packed so closely so that more people will be able to hear about you. And thank you Lord for the fleas.”
Betsie ten Boom understood God’s command to give thanks in every circumstance. There are many things about living in a family with divorced parents that may be hard. People who do not live out that situation every day will never fully understand the many challenges that come with it. But there are no qualifications on God’s command. We are to give thanks always.
Most of us will not have to look far before we find something to thank God for. But even if all else fails, we have a huge reason to be grateful to God. He gave us a priceless gift of eternal life through the sacrifice of his son. Our greatest need has been taken care of! That is definitely something to thank God for.
Are you experiencing challenges that sometimes seem to drain your joy? God has commanded us to give thanks to him. Follow his instruction and your attitude will turn around. Joy will return as you focus your attention on what he has done for you.