Showing posts with label Resting on God. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Resting on God. Show all posts

Friday, February 27, 2009

God is our refuge and strength

Dear Friends,

Thanks for stopping by, and all your prayers and encouragements!

Thank God for strengthening me. I am feeling better but still trying to pace myself moderately. I do missed all of you very much. Thanks for all your encouragements.

This morning, I was reading CH Spurgeon's Morning and Evening as part of my morning devotion, and very much encouraged by it.

Thank God that He is our refuge and strength, and we may rest in Him daily no matter what we may go through in this world. He is unchangeable!

May God encourage you with this article and you may find rest in Him daily too.

Take care and have a great weekend!

“Thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation.”
Psalm 91:9

THE Israelites in the wilderness were continually exposed to change.

Whenever the pillar stayed its motion, the tents were pitched; but to-morrow, ere the morning sun had risen, the trumpet sounded, the ark was in motion, and the fiery, cloudy pillar was leading the way through the narrow defiles of the mountain, up the hillside, or along the arid waste of the wilderness.

They had scarcely time to rest a little before they heard the sound of “Away! this is not your rest; you must still be onward journeying towards Canaan!” They were never long in one place. Even wells and palm trees could not detain them. Yet they had an abiding home in their God, His cloudy pillar was their roof-tree, and its flame by night their household fire.

They must go onward from place to place, continually changing, never having time to settle, and to say, “Now we are secure; in this place we shall dwell.” “Yet,” says Moses, “though we are always changing, Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place throughout all generations.”

The Christian knows no change with regard to God. He may be rich to-day and poor to-morrow; he may be sickly to-day and well to-morrow; he may be in happiness to-day, to-morrow he may be distressed—but there is no change with regard to his relationship to God.

If He loved me yesterday, He loves me to-day. My unmoving mansion of rest is my blessed Lord.

Let prospects be blighted; let hopes be blasted; let joy be withered; let mildews destroy everything; I have lost nothing of what I have in God. He is “my strong habitation whereunto I can continually resort.”

I am a pilgrim in the world, but at home in my God. In the earth I wander, but in God I dwell in a quiet habitation.

Taken from CH Spurgeon's Morning and Evening, 27 Feb, Morning

(My brother took this photo at Muriwai Beach, New Zealand)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Resting On God

In this world, we have many ups and downs. It is a mercy to be able to rest in God Who is almighty and sovereign. It is a comfort to remember that He is in control.

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30

Let us continue to cast all our cares upon our Lord Who loved us and gave His life for us. May we rest in His love, faithfulness and mercies.

The following encouraging prayer/poem is taken from "The Valley of Vision", A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, Edited by Arthur Bennett, Published by The Banner of Truth Trust, 1997, Page 129.

Hope this prayer/poem will encourage you.
Resting on God

The thought of thine infinite serenity cheers me,
For I am toiling and moiling, troubled and distressed,
but thou art for ever at perfect peace.
Thy designs cause thee no fear or care of unfulfilment,
they stand fast as the eternal hills.
Thy power knows no bond,
thy greatness no stint.
Thou bringest order out of confusion,
and my defeats are thy victories:
The Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
I come to thee as a sinner with cares and sorrow,
to leave every concern entirely to thee,
every sin calling for Christ's precious blood;
Revive deep spirituality in my heart;
Let me live near to the great shepherd,
hear his voice, know its tones, follow its calls.
Keep me from deception by causing me to abide in the truth,
from harm by helping me to walk in the power of the Spirit.
Give me intenser faith in the eternal verities,
burning into me by experience the things I know;
Let me never be ashamed of the truth of the gospel,
that I may bear its reproach,
vindicate it,
see Jesus as its essence,
know in it the power of the Spirit.
Lord, help me, for I am often lukewarm and chill;
unbelief mars my confidence,
sin makes me forget thee.
Let the weeds that grow in my soul be cut at their roots;
Grant me to know that I truly live only when I live to thee,
that all else is trifling.
Thy presence alone can make me holy, devout, strong and happy.
Abide in me, gracious God.
Thanks for stopping by. May God grant you a very blessed Lord's day and week ahead!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?

In the daily challenges of life with various ups and downs, it is sometimes very easy to get discouraged.

In my battle with bipolar disorder and especially in coping with clinical depression, sometimes I do feel discouraged.

But I am daily reminded of God's love, goodness and mercies. Though in this life we have various difficulties, God is with us and He will work all things for His glory and our good as we put our trust in our Lord Jesus Christ. This is a great comfort to me.

As I strive to live for the Lord daily, I am reminded that my life is not just for enjoyment of things in this life but rather to do the will of God. During clinical depression, I lost all ability to enjoy everything. But I am reminded that this is a medical condition that can be treated.

While I await God's restoration through medication, exercise, and other means, I realized that God will give me strength to live meaningfully for Him as I seek to do His will.

I read this very encouraging devotional recently which reminded me afresh of what really matters in this life.
"What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"-- Mark 8:36.
SIMON PETER had been urging our Lord to spare Himself the suffering to which He had referred, but He answered that this could not be for Himself, or for any other who would follow in His footsteps. Proceeding from His own deep experience, He went on to show that in the same measure every one must deny his own choice and will and pleasure, in order that he may reach the highest life for himself and others.

It is not necessary for any man to make a cross; it is our part simply to take up that which God has laid down for us. The cross is no exceptional piece of asceticism, but it is the constant refusal to gratify our self-life; the perpetual dying to pride and self-indulgence, in order to follow Christ in His redemptive mission for the salvation of men. And it is in proportion as men live like this that they realize the deepest and truest and highest meaning of life. When we live only to save ourselves, to build warm nests, to avoid every discomfort and annoyance, to make money entirely for our own use and enjoyment, to invent schemes for our own pleasure, we become the most discontented and miserable of mankind. How many there are who have given themselves up to a life of selfishness and pleasure-seeking, only to find their capacity for joy has shrivelled, and their lives plunged into gloom and despair. They have lost their souls!

If a fire is raging, and a millionaire saves his palace from destruction, but in so doing loses his own life, does it pay? And are there not many who are building for themselves palaces of wealth and pleasure, but are losing the power of enjoyment because they are destroying all the finest sensibilities of their nature. Our Lord asks, what does it profit to gain the whole world, and forfeit one's own soul?

But not to adopt the policy of the world is certain to bring upon us dislike and hatred, before which many have been daunted; and yet to refuse Christ's policy of life, and to be ashamed of acknowledging that we are His followers, will mean ultimately our rejection. For how can our Lord use us in any great schemes of the future, if we have failed Him in the limited sphere of our human life?

O God, we have been disappointed because the cisterns that we have hewn out for ourselves have not given the water needed to quench our thirst. Fountain of Living Water, of Thee may we drink! Bread of Life, of Thee may we eat! Light of Life, shine upon our hearts, that we may walk in Thy light. AMEN.

(Taken from Meyer's Devotional, 9 July)

Thank God for His presence and His Words which encourage and strengthen me daily. I pray that God may enable me to live for Him each day as He strengthens me.

Thanks for stopping by, dear friends! Thanks for all your prayers and encouragements.

Your friendship, prayers, encouragements and concerns have been used by God to be a great encouragement to me!

The thought of God and you encourages my heart daily. May God bless each of you in His special ways.

Hope you have a blessed weekends! Take care.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Enjoying nature and photography once again

Thank God for strengthening me day by day as I wait upon Him.

Yesterday, a kind friend and sister-in-Christ, Grace, took me for a walk at Hort Park. It is a beautiful park with flowers and plant. We had a good time of fellowship together.

I am thankful to God that I can enjoy nature and photography once again!

Whenever I go through clinical depression, I seemed to lose all ability to enjoy anything. Due to chemical imbalance in my brain, I was not able to think or feel aright.

Thank God for restoring me. Now that I am better, I am so thankful to be able to enjoy nature once again.

I love nature. The beautiful flowers and plants remind me of the wonderful creation of God. God creates these beautiful flowers and plants for us to enjoy. I am thankful that I can enjoy photography once again. It helps me to capture some of the loveliness of God's creations.

God also creates us so that we can enjoy Him and His creations. I am reminded that He will take care of me and all of His beloved people no matter what we may have to go through in this world.

Thank God that He is with us through all the changing scenes in life, and He never leaves us nor forsake us. He give us grace and strength to live for Him each day. We are weak but He is strong. We can look forward to the day when we are with Him forever, no more to be burden by a weak and frail body or mind.

Recovering from depression always give me a sense of a new life in Christ. It's like being born-again or being raised from the dead.

Thank God for His presence and His Words which encourage and strengthen me daily. I pray that God may enable me to live for Him each day as He strengthens me.

Thanks for stopping by, dear friends! Thanks for all your prayers and encouragements.

Your friendship, prayers, encouragements and concerns have been used by God to be a great encouragement to me!

The thought of God and you encourages my heart daily. May God bless each of you in His special ways.

Hope you have a blessed weekends! Take care.

Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.

My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

Psalm 73:25-26

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Thank God I am better!

Dear Friends,

Thanks for stopping by!

Thanks for your prayers, concerns and encouragements.

Thank God for strengthening me.

Just a short note to let you know that I am feeling better. Thank God!

I will pace myself slowly and post more later on.

Take care!

Friday, May 30, 2008

I am with you always

Dear Friends,

Thank you very much for stopping by! Thanks for all your prayers and encouragements.

Just a short update on my current condition.

With bipolar disorder, whenever I am well, I am usually kind of hypomanic. Writing and reading is a breeze. My thoughts flow naturally and I can write a lot. I also tend to talk a lot. You can see from my past postings on this blog that I tend to post very long posts and almost every day.

But now I am rather slowed down. My thoughts are dis-jointed. My concentration level is low. Reading and writing takes much effort. Even talking is difficult. When I am a little better, I will tend to want to read, write and talk. But I will be terribly exhausted after that.

So I am coping by cutting down on activities that tire me out.

I learn to lower my expectations of self by not expecting myself to do too much during this period of time.

It is hard as I have perfectionism character trait and begin to feel a sense of uselessness.

But I try to remind myself that I am just taking a break. I can still be useful and contribute when I am better.

I try to exercise more regularly as my body has become so easily tired and lethargic.

I read the Bible and pray daily and am finding much comfort in God's Words.

I re-read this encouraging devotional from CH Spurgeon, that reminds me once again God is with me and will never leave me nor forsake me.
“I am with you alway.”
Matthew 28:20

It is well there is One who is ever the same, and who is ever with us.

It is well there is one stable rock amidst the billows of the sea of life.

O my soul, set not thine affections upon rusting, moth-eaten, decaying treasures, but set thine heart upon him who abides for ever faithful to thee.

Build not thine house upon the moving quicksands of a deceitful world, but found thy hopes upon this rock, which, amid descending rain and roaring floods, shall stand immovably secure.

My soul, I charge thee, lay up thy treasure in the only secure cabinet; store thy jewels where thou canst never lose them.

Put thine all in Christ; set all thine affections on his person, all thy hope in his merit, all thy trust in his efficacious blood, all thy joy in his presence, and so thou mayest laugh at loss, and defy destruction.

Remember that all the flowers in the world’s garden fade by turns, and the day cometh when nothing will be left but the black, cold earth.

Death’s black extinguisher must soon put out thy candle. Oh! how sweet to have sunlight when the candle is gone!

The dark flood must soon roll between thee and all thou hast; then wed thine heart to him who will never leave thee; trust thyself with him who will go with thee through the black and surging current of death’s stream, and who will land thee safely on the celestial shore, and make thee sit with him in heavenly places for ever.

Go, sorrowing son of affliction, tell thy secrets to the Friend who sticketh closer than a brother.

Trust all thy concerns with him who never can be taken from thee, who will never leave thee, and who will never let thee leave him, even “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.”

“Lo, I am with you alway,” is enough for my soul to live upon, let who will forsake me.

(Taken from CH Spurgeon's Morning and Evening, 11 May, Morning)

Thanks again for stopping by!

Take care. Hope you have a blessed weekends.

I will post every now and then to let you know of my condition.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Coping with false guilt during depression

There is still such a terrible stigma associated with mental illness and depression even among Christian. There is the common belief that depression is due to a weakness in character or lack of faith in God. The truth is depression is a complex condition and there are many factors that led to it as well as caused it. There is no easy answer to the treatment or recovery either.

If you or your loved ones are suffering from prolonged and severe depression, I highly recommend that you read the series of studies done by Dr David P Murray on "Depression and the Christian" as he explored in very biblical and balanced manner on the causes of depression, the condition, restoration and how family or friends can help.

Dr David P Murray mentioned in his first message "Depression and the Christian: The Crisis":
“Being depressed is bad enough in itself, but being a depressed Christian is worse. And being a depressed Christian in a church full of people who do not understand depression is like a little taste of hell.”[3]

As we all know there is a terrible stigma attached to mental illness. This is the result of widespread misunderstanding about its causes, its symptoms, and the “cures” available. Some of the misunderstanding is understandable. Unlike cancer or heart disease or arthritis, there is no scan or test which can visibly demonstrate the existence of depression/anxiety. It is a largely “invisible” disease. We want to be able to point to something and say, “There’s the problem!” When we can’t, we often wrongly conclude, “There is no problem!” Or, if we are Christians, we may, usually wrongly, conclude, “My spiritual life is the problem!”
It is normal to feel ups and downs at different time in our life. We all experience different moods throughout the day. But when depression is chronic, lasting every day for more than 2 weeks and affected one's life and ability to function, it is clinical depression and it is a medical condition that needs to be treated.

Sometimes depression could be due to a mood disorder such as bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness) in which the biological changes in our brain and body brings about depression. Different things may triggered off an episode or sometimes it happened for no apparent reason.

Clinical Depression is a serious condition that needs to be treated. Without treatment it can last for months and the sufferer can be severely impaired. Even though clinical depression may not be due to something wrong in the spiritual life of the sufferer, it can have adverse spiritual consequences in terms of the believer not able to enjoy God and various means of grace until he gets better.

If you are a Christian and suffering from severe depression daily for more than 2 weeks and you can hardly function, do seek medical help as soon as you can. It is the depression that took away your ability to enjoy anything in life, including God and His Words, worship and His people, your family, friends, work, hobbies, recreation, etc etc. You will notice that you don't enjoy anything generally. Your thoughts and feelings are either negative or flat. You need medical help or alternative medicine help. Depending on the level of your depression, you probably will benefit from a combination of help such as counselling, regular exercise, regular sleep and meals, etc etc. But if however you tried you can't benefit from the later, then you need medical help to restore the chemical imbalance in your brain first before you can benefit from the later. Once the chemical in your brain is restored you will be able to enjoy these things again.

One common experience Christian who loves God dearly, will experience during severe clinical depression, is the inability to enjoy God and His Words, worship or fellowship. With this come the additional pain of false guilt.

Dr David P Murray mentioned in his first message on "Depression and the Christian: The Crisis":
We might say that there are three main elements in our make-up that affect our overall well-being: our body, our soul, and our mind (our thoughts). These are not three watertight and disconnected entities. There is considerable overlap and connectivity. When our body breaks down, it affects our spiritual life and our thinking processes. When our spiritual life is in poor condition, our thoughts are affected, and often our bodily health and functions also. It is therefore no surprise that when our mental health is poor, when our thinking processes go awry, that there are detrimental physical and spiritual consequences.

The depressed believer cannot concentrate to read or pray. He doesn’t want to meet people and so may avoid church and fellowships. He often feels God has abandoned him.

Moreover, it is often the case that faith, instead of being a help, can actually cause extra problems in dealing with depression. There is, for instance, the false guilt associated with the false conclusion, “Real Christians don’t get depressed.” There is also the usually mistaken tendency to locate the cause of mental illness in our spiritual life, our relationship with God, which also increases false guilt and feelings of worthlessness.
Dr David P Murray emphasized the importance of studying depression. He said :
One great benefit of having some knowledge about depression is that it will prevent the dangerous and damaging misunderstanding which often leads people, especially Christians, to view medication as a rejection of God and His grace, rather than a provision of God and His grace.
How should a Christian cope with the false guilt and spiritual consequences of depression? Dr David P Murray suggested:
We have tried to emphasise that for Christians their depression is usually not caused by spiritual factors. However, there are spiritual consequences in all depressions. There are a number of steps a depressed Christian can take to help reverse at least some of the spiritual consequences. You may find Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ book Spiritual Depression to be helpful in this regard – although he can be a bit sweeping and dogmatic in his generalisations. Here are some practical things you can do to help address the spiritual consequences of depression.

(i) Accept that being depressed is not a sin and indeed is compatible with Christianity. Many Bible characters and many of the greatest Christians passed through times of depression.

(ii) Try to understand that your loss of spiritual feelings is not the cause of your depression, but rather the depression has caused a general loss of feeling in all parts of your life, your spiritual life included.

(iii) Patiently wait for the corrections in your lifestyle, thinking, or brain chemistry to have an effect on your feelings as a whole and your spiritual life will pick up at the same time also.

(iv) Have a set time for reading your Bible and praying. Depressed Christians may either give up reading and praying, or they may try to read and pray “excessively” in order to try and bring back their spiritual feelings. Both approaches are unhelpful. Instead, set aside a regular time each day to read and pray. If concentration is a problem, keep things short (5-10 minutes) until you feel better. Depression will only be deepened by setting unrealistic spiritual goals.

(v) Bring objective truth to mind (e.g.: the doctrine of justification, or the atonement), especially “positive” verses which set forth God’s love, mercy and grace for sinners (e.g.: Rom.8:1; 8:38-39; 1 Jn.4:9-10; 1 Jn.1:9). You may want to write out a verse and carry it around with you. When negative thoughts overwhelm you, bring out the verse and meditate upon it.

(vi) When you pray, tell God exactly how you feel. Be totally honest. Ask God to help you with your doubts and fears and to restore to you the joy of salvation. Thank Him for loving you and being with you even though you do not feel His love or presence. Praying for others who suffer can also help to turn your thoughts away from yourself for a time.

(vii) Keep going to church and seek out the fellowship of one or two sympathetic Christians you can confide in, and ask them to pray with you and for you. Be careful about who you talk to. Sadly, some Christians cannot keep confidences, and others will have little understanding of or sympathy for your condition.

(viii) Remember God loves you as you are, not as you would like to be.

The pain and anguish of going through depression is awful beyond words. For those of us who go through severe clinical depression that robbed us of all ability to enjoy anything including God and left us almost crippled and unfunctional, we know just how hard it was to get up of bed every morning.

It is difficult sometimes to understand why we have to go through so much sufferings. We may not always get the answer on this side of heaven. But our greatest comfort is that God loves us and He is in control. He sovereignly allows us to go through these painful sufferings for His sovereign purposes. Sufferings are part of life in this fallen world. One benefit we can derived from our sufferings, whether it be due to depression or other trials or afflictions, is that we are drawn closer to God as we find our refuge and strength in Him. We began to know God as Who He is when we experienced His unconditional love and faithfulness in sustaining and delivering us from such great sufferings. Sometimes we feel forsaken by God but in reality God has never forsaken us. He is with us and He sustains and deliver us. Perhaps through our pain of depression we can understand a little better what the Lord felt when He was on the cross to pay the penalty of our sins and experienced the pain and agony of being forsaken by His Heavenly Father. Oh, how precious is the Lord to us when we have experienced such pain and suffering.

I like what Edward T Welch said towards the end of the video "Depression - A Stubborn Darkness" which I posted yesterday. Do watch this video if you have not seen it. He said:

"The people I know who struggle with depression and have persevered with me and with other people in the body of Christ and with the Lord, those are my heroes. Those are people, they struggled, every day is hard but they get up out of bed every day simply out of this weak obedience to Christ. And I find that to be so incredibly heroic"

I read of another author too who said that he felt the true heroes are those who persevered in life despite a broken mind.

So that makes you and I some kind of a heroes, doesn't it, when we persevered daily despite the pains and brokenness of our mind :-)

Let us cling onto God during depression and pray and seek to do that which is necessary to restore the chemical imbalance in our brain, correct our thoughts and lifestyle, and wait patiently for God's deliverance in His time. May God draw us nearer to Himself and enable us to know His enduring and unfailing love during such time.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Thankful Thursday

My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. Psalm 73:26
Thank God for seeing me through another week. The last 1 week have been quite a difficult week for me as my health has not been good and I have gone through many difficult challenges. But thank God that though my flesh and my heart failed at times, God is the strength of my heart and my portion through the past 1 week and forever more. So I have many things to thank God for :-)

I am thankful to God for sustaining me daily and giving me grace and strength to live for Him. I am still learning to manage my condition. As you probably know, I suffer from a condition called bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness). This is a neurological and medical condition that can be treated. It alternates between manic and depression. There are pockets of time when I am more "normal" :-)

Besides medication there are various helps available in coping with my condition such as regular exercise, minimizing stress, healthy meal, regular sleep and recreation, etc etc. In the recent weeks, my health has been fluctuating as I am managing more stress in terms of my freelance work and other challenges in my life. The last few days have been particularly trying as I have been experiencing panic attacks due to some stressful situations. Stress and strained are my main triggering factors in my condition and so I am looking to the Lord daily for grace and wisdom to manage. I thank God for His faithfulness in seeing me through the many challenges and for strengthening me.

Thank God that His Words have bring great encouragement and comfort to me this week as I searched through them in the face of various challenges.

Thank God for the joy of worship and fellowship on the Lord's day. Thank God for a soul-searching message on maintaining a right relationship with God's children that will please God.

Thank God that the church Aunty who went through the surgery last Tuesday was able to come for worship last Lord's day and we had a blessed time of fellowship.

Thank God for family and friends who puts up with my many limitations and loved me just the way I am and help me to grow in many wonderful ways. Their love and support is precious to me. Thank God for my mother who takes such wonderful care of me even while I seek to care for her. Thank God for my sister's family for spending time with my mum and me this week.

Thank God for 2 friends who helped me to brain-storm some difficult decisions recently and helped me to learn and grow through these difficult experiences.

Thank God for enabling me to complete one freelance assignment ahead of time and enabling me to start on a new one now. Thank God for His provisions.

Thank God for providing for my daily bread and so many blessings in His wonderful ways, and through the kindness of His beloved people .

Thank God for Iris' labours of love in hosting Thankful Thursday.

Thank God for the joy of participating on Thankful Thursday. Reading the various encouraging Thankful Thursday posts on so many blogs have helped me to count my blessings and be more thankful. Sometimes when the road is tough and the days are difficult, it is easy to forget that God is still with us and have shower us with many blessings. So I am thankful to God that through Thankful Thursday I can step aside from the challenges of the day, the tiredness, the stress and whatever else, to just reflect upon God's blessings and goodness to me. Praise Him that I do have many things to be thankful for!

Thank God for all of you, my dear blogging friends, other friends and readers, for stopping by, reading my posts and encouraging me by sharing with me your thoughts and reflections either via comment or email.

Thank God for the many blogs that I can visit daily and all the encouragements I derived from your blogs. Thanks for sharing your life with me. It is so wonderful to find such friendships and support online. God be praised!

How about you? How has the Lord blessed you through the past week?

Thanks for stopping by. Hope you have a blessed and thankful day!

For more participants of Thankful Thursday, do visit Iris at Sting My Heart. It will be a very blessed and spiritually uplifting experience for you!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Behind the Frowning Providence: Part 1 There are Dark Providences

I was re-reading portion of a small but very encouraging booklet entitled "Behind a Frowning Providence" by Mr John J Murray a retired minister and thought I will share some encouraging portions with you over the next few posts.

For you and I who suffer great pains and misery due to our depression or bipolar or other infirmities, it is sometimes hard to reconcile our understanding of what a blessed Christian life should be like with the sufferings that we have to go through or that of our loved ones. It is sometimes difficult to understand why a loving God will allow His children to go through such pains and sufferings. Other Christians may accuse us of a lack of faith and trust in God. We sometimes wonder whether we are truly a Christian and if we are, why are we going through so much troubles and pains and sufferings.

The truth is our sufferings or pains does not contradict what the Scriptures tell us of who God is, the fallen nature we have inherited through Adam's sins in the garden of Eden, what our Lord Jesus Christ has done on the cross to redeem us from, and the rich and blessed life we have in Christ when we trusted in Him as our Saviour despite the pains, suffering or dark providences we are going through even after we have become a Christian. These are paradoxes.

How can we justify the ways of God with us? As hard as it may be for us to understand some of these things, a careful study of Scriptures and understanding of the wonderful work of God in providence will unfold a new light in our darkness and a new perspective in our checkered life.

Mr Murray noted that one of the best known hymns is William Cowper's "God moves is a mysterious way, His wonder to perform". Cowper was subject to melancholy (depression) and knew more about the darker side of Christian experience than the brighter. It was out of heart-felt experience that he composed his hymn and presented in it so many precious gems of truth such as the oft-quoted lines,

Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

What is meant by a "frowning providence"? Is this something that we are to expect in the Christian life? If so, how do we cope with it?

Mr Murray said when adversity comes into our lives we tend to react in one of two ways. We may say that it happens beyond God's control and God has no power to stop it; or we may say it is an evidence of God's anger against us. Either way we are guilty of casting aspersions on the character of our Father and consequently of perverting our attitude of Him.

Thomas Boston, a minister who went through severe trials in his ministry and domestic life, due to a mentally-ill wife said:

"A just (right) view of afflicting incidents is altogether necessary to a Christian deportment (demeanor) under them. That view is to be obtained only by faith, not by sense; for it is the light of the Word alone that represents them justly, discerning in them the work of God, and consequently designs becoming the Divine perfections."

The Christian, although he is justified, remains a sinner in the midst of a fallen world. He is subject to "all the ills that flesh is heir to" (my note: I think this includes clinical depression, bipolar, asthma, diabetes, other sicknesses, disappointments, etc etc and death). Some of the consequences of his past sins affect his life. He is the subject of the discipline of His Heavenly Father. Satan concentrates his attack on him. His sufferings are compounded because he is a Christian. "In the world", our Lord warns His disciples, "you will have tribulation." (John 16:33)

The Bible leaves us with no doubt that suffering is a normal part of the true Christian life. Hebrews chapter 11 portrays the suffering witnesses of the Old Testament. The New Testament presents us with our great Example (our Lord Jesus Christ) who was "made perfect through sufferings" (Hebrews 2:10), and also with the many followers who "became partakers" in His sufferings (1 Peter 4:13). The whole emphasis in the teaching of the early church was on "rejoicing in the midst of sufferings." It is "through much tribulation" that we enter the kingdom (Acts 14:22).

Sadly, this understanding of the possibilities of Christian sufferings is far removed from the outlook that prevails in large parts of the Church today. The impression is given that the purpose of the Christian life is enjoyment. Everything that stands in the way of that is to be eliminated. People are looking for a problem-free Christianity. The health, wealth and success gospel is having a field today. Purveyors of such a gospel look the part. Unfortunately, the hollowness of such views became apparent when suffering, sorrow or disappointment comes. Then it becomes clear that we need a faith that is grounded in God's Word.

Over the next few posts I hope to share with you excerpts from Mr Murray's messages on Behind the Frowning Providences under the following headings:

2. God's Work in us through Depression, Bipolar and other Disabilities or Sufferings (God's Designs in Dark Providences)

3. Our Comfort in Dark Providences.

Personally, for me, understanding that all things are under God's controls including my depressions and bipolar, and that God is working my pains and sufferings for His glory, my good and that of His people, brings me great comfort. My bipolar, depression or any other sufferings or trials, are not an end in themselves. God can certainly heal and deliver me. But if He doesn't do it, He has good purposes in them. I may not fully understand or see things as clearly as He does. But understanding a little better why He allows Frowning Providences in my life, enable me to look beyond my pains and sufferings to the higher purposes that God has allowed them in my life. Then these become means to eternal spiritual benefits for me and other fellow Christians.

Understanding that my depression or manic are due to bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness) and it is a medical condition that can be treated brings comfort and prevents unnecessary guilts. Others who do not understand may accuse me of lack of faith in God or my being weak or emotional. But I know that God in His sovereignty has allowed me to have this medical condition for my eternal good. Through this condition, I have been brought to a closer walk with God and I have been able to serve God by comforting others who are suffering.

God's love and His Words give me great strength and comfort as I travel this checkered road to the celestial city with many ups and downs due to depression, bipolar and other challenges. God has never promised me a life without thorns or difficulties but He has promised me unchanging love (Jeremiah 31:3), sufficient grace (2 Corinthians 12:9) and eternal life (John 3:16). He promised that He is working all things for my good even when I don't understand it (Romans 8:28). I have found God to be faithful and I can look back at how He has and is working all things for my good and for His glory. These brings me great consolations and give me courage to face each day.

If you are a Christian and you are suffering from depression now, and you are not able to feel God's presence with you nor find comfort from God's Words, do know that it is because of the chemical imbalance in your brain that is causing you not to be able to think or feel aright. Clinical depression and bipolar depression are medical condition that needs to be treated with medical and other helps. Once the chemical imbalance in your brain is restored, you will be able to enjoy God's presence with you and find comfort from His Words again. I highly recommend 6 very encouraging sermons by Dr David P Murray on "Depression and the Christian" as it will help to dispel some of the myths regarding depression and the Christian and give you a more biblical view on your current sufferings due to depression. Especially, it will prevent the dangerous and damaging misunderstanding which often leads people, especially Christians, to view medication as a rejection of God and His grace, rather than a provision of God and His grace. I hope you will seek medical and other appropriate help, so that you can be more functional and able to enjoy God, His Words, your family, your church, work, etc etc.

God's love and sovereignty is a Christian's greatest comfort admist the ups and downs through all the changing scenes of life. We may not always understand why God allows us to go through certain things, but we have no doubt at all of His love and care upon us. He Who gave His Son to die on the cross for us, will do so much more to keep us.

Thanks for stopping by. Do drop me a note, if you can, to let me know how the above excerpts has helped you. Or how has God's Words bring comfort to you in your sufferings? How has the knowledge, that God loves you and He is sovereign, strengthen you in your darkest moments?

Hope you have a blessed day!

God moves in a mysterious way
by William Cowper

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Thou art my hope in the day of evil - Jeremiah 17:17

Thank you, dear Reader, for stopping by.

Thanks, Bpd, Michelle, Mari, Preciousrock, Jena, Marissa, Paula, for your prayers and encouragements. It's so good to have you back, Mari. I hope you have had a good rest. Thank you, Preciousrock, for stopping by. And welcome to my blog :-) I had a quick look at your blog and will return to read more.

Thanks all for your concerns, prayers and kind words which touched my heart. Thank God for all of you. It is encouraging to know that others care and are praying for me :-)

Jena has kindly suggested that it may be good for me to write a short post to update all of you and I think that's a great idea. Thanks for suggesting that, Jena :-)

Thank you for your prayers. Thank God for strengthening me. I am feeling better and learning to rest in God and depend more on His strength. I am learning to slow down and not try to do too many things. I am still feeling tired and experiencing mood swings but learning to cut down on my activities and rest whenever I can.

So dear friends, please take care. Try not to overstrain yourself too. Thank God that writing is therapeutic to us all. I am keeping you in my prayers too. And thanks again for coming by and leaving me such sweet encouraging notes :-)

May God bless and keep you near to Him. Have a blessed day!

This morning I read this encouraging devotional note from CH Spurgeon and I cut and paste it from a free Bible software "e-sword". e-sword is free and have many version of Bible, Commentaries, Devotional notes, etc etc. You can download and install on you computer. It's very useful.

Thank God that He is our hope in time of difficulties. Though we are weak, He is strong. Praise Him!

Thou art my hope in the day of evil - Jeremiah 17:17

The path of the Christian is not always bright with sunshine; he has his seasons of darkness and of storm.

True, it is written in God’s Word, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace;” and it is a great truth, that religion is calculated to give a man happiness below as well as bliss above; but experience tells us that if the course of the just be “As the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day,” yet sometimes that light is eclipsed. At certain periods clouds cover the believer’s sun, and he walks in darkness and sees no light.

There are many who have rejoiced in the presence of God for a season; they have basked in the sunshine in the earlier stages of their Christian career; they have walked along the “green pastures” by the side of the “still waters,” but suddenly they find the glorious sky is clouded; instead of the Land of Goshen they have to tread the sandy desert; in the place of sweet waters, they find troubled streams, bitter to their taste, and they say, “Surely, if I were a child of God, this would not happen.” Oh! say not so, thou who art walking in darkness. The best of God’s saints must drink the wormwood; the dearest of his children must bear the cross.

No Christian has enjoyed perpetual prosperity; no believer can always keep his harp from the willows. Perhaps the Lord allotted you at first a smooth and unclouded path, because you were weak and timid. He tempered the wind to the shorn lamb, but now that you are stronger in the spiritual life, you must enter upon the riper and rougher experience of God’s full-grown children.

We need winds and tempests to exercise our faith, to tear off the rotten bough of self-dependence, and to root us more firmly in Christ.

The day of evil reveals to us the value of our glorious hope.

(taken from CH Spurgeon's Morning and Evening, 29 Morning.)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Be Still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10)

This morning I was unwell and not able to go to church for worship. I am praying that God will strengthen me and enable me to go for evening worship this evening. I missed worship and fellowship. Though I read the Bible and pray everyday, going to church is a totally different experience which I cherish very much. It is always very refreshing to my soul when I can go for public worship. God's Words uplift my soul and give me strength for the week ahead. And I missed my church friends :)

The last few weeks have been busy weeks for me. As I am still learning to manage my condition, work, family, stress, perfectionism, etc etc, I do feel a little overwhelmed at times. Thank God for the rest today. God created the world in 6 days and He rested on the seventh. And so today is a day of rest for both body and soul.

I am thankful that I can rest in God daily too admist all the hustle and bustle of life. I still feel very very tired every evening and sometimes in the morning too the moment I wake up. There seemed to be so many things I want to do and I think I need to do daily and yet I never seemed to get most things done. Hmm, I suspect this is either my manic or my perfectionist trait playing me out again :)

Thank God for the reminders to me through His precious Words:

Be still
Be still, and know that I am God: Psalm 46:10

Come unto Jesus
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Don't be anxious, pray to God, give thanks and God will give me peace
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Don't worry, do God's works and He will take care of me
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Matthew 6:25, 33 - 34

God's Words always encourage me. My physical tiredness or mental strain seems so much lighter when I put them all aside and just lost myself in God's love and precious promises. It is my encouragement that God will give me strength in Him daily as I learn to look to Him. Sometimes I tend to forget to cast my anxieties or burdens upon the Lord, and try to do too many things in my own strength. Any wonder that I am so tired out :)

I pray God will enable me to rest in His presence with me and enable me to cling on to His precious promises to carry me through this coming week.

May God also give you strength and joy today and everyday!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Hiding in the Rock that is higher than I

Thank God for another joy and privilege to join in public worship this morning. It is always very refreshing to me, after a busy week, to quiet down and enjoy worship and fellowship. Although I read the Bible and pray daily in my personal devotion, going to church and worship with my church friends is always something I look forward to.

This morning I derived much encouragement and instructions from the preaching of God's Words, prayers, singing and Christian fellowship. We sang Psalm 61 which is one of my favourite Psalms, and in particular verses 1 to 4.

Psalm 61
Scottish Metrical Psalm

1 O God, give ear unto my cry;
unto my pray'r attend.
2 From th' utmost corner of the land
my cry to thee I'll send.

What time my heart is overwhelm'd,
and in perplexity,
Do thou me lead unto the Rock
that higher is than I.

3 For thou has for my refuge been
a shelter by thy pow'r;
And for defence against my foes
thou hast been a strong tow'r.

4 Within thy tabernacle I
for ever will abide;
And under covert of thy wings
with confidence me hide.

Matthew Henry commented
"God's power and promise are a rock that is higher than we. This rock is Christ; those are safe that are in him. We cannot get upon this rock unless God by his power lead us. I will put thee in the cleft of the rock, Exodus 33:22. We should therefore by faith and prayer put ourselves under the divine management, that we may be taken under the divine protection."
At times life becomes overwhelming. Sometimes because it is so busy and full of activities, and at other times because I myself struggles with mood swings ie manic or depression. My body and mind still can't seem to synchronize very well. I have so much I want to do with every waking hours, and then when night comes I feel so drained. At times I began to experience mood swings. Stress and strain seems to have such negative effect on my body and mind. Managing daily tasks and challenges, and at the same time managing mood swings so that they don't escalate into manic episode or plunged into depression episodes, takes much patience and awareness. And for me, much prayers.

I am reminded afresh that when life circumstances or my own feelings or mood overwhelmed me, I can go to God in prayers. I can pray that He leads me to the Rock that is higher than I. This Rock is the Lord Jesus Christ. He will guide me through His Words and lead me along the path that I should go, and He will give me strength to face the challenges daily so that I may live for His glory.

The challenges in my life draws me nearer to the Lord as I learn to cast my cares upon Him, and experience His love and faithfulness in taking care of me daily. Thank God that when I feel overwhelmed, I can rest in this Rock that is higher than I. I am learning to do so day by day, and it gives me courage to face each new day, with various challenges, knowing the Lord is with me. Thank God!

I look forward to this coming week where I can once again look to God for grace and strength, and experience His goodness and mercies in many wonderful ways, as I seek to know Him, love Him and serve Him and others.

Hope you have a blessed week ahead :)

My friend, HH Sau, took this lovely photo at Saipan.

Psalm 61:1-4
1 Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.
2 From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
3 For thou hast been a shelter for me, and strong tower from the enemy.
4 I will abide in thy tabernacle forever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Resting in God's promises

I found this card among my collections of bookmarks and card. It brings smile to my face when I saw the contented look this bear has :-)

I am reminded anew that when we rest in God's promises, we can find much contentment, peace and joy in Him, irrespective of our outward circumstances, physical infirmities or inner struggles. God's presence and His Words can calm any storms in our life and give us hope to face uncertain tomorrows.

We serve such a great God! How I need to remember that! Sometimes, difficult circumstances, stressful situations, physical or mental strain, caused me to forget to cling on to God's promises. I may know God's Words and great doctrine in my mind, but I forgot to apply it to the particular situations in my life or forgot to keep hanging on to God's promises. It seems to be a moment by moment cling to God and His Words, and living by faith from moment to moment. Not just applying God's Words today or to a particular situation yesterday, but every day and to every situation. And it is only possible by God's enablement. That's why prayers and God's Words are important to me. In my own strength I am not able to face each day. But in God's strength, I am more than conquerors through Him Who loved us. I am weak but He is strong, and His strength is made perfect in my weaknesses. He gives me the strength and grace to live for Him each day.

Whatever our needs are for the moments, the answer is to be found in the Bible, if we take time to search for it. Whatever we are feeling, whatever we are suffering, whatever we are hoping, the Bible has something to say. Thank God for guiding us, comforting us and strengthening us through His Words and promises.

The only time when I can't enjoy prayers or reading of God's Words is when I am severely depressed. At such time what I experienced is called clinical depression. It is not just feeling down for a few days and then get better. It usually lasted 3 to 6 months or longer. I have had such experience some 11 times over the last 20 years. During such time the chemical in my brain was not functioning properly and I can't think or feel aright. At such time, what I found to be most painful was I can't find any comfort in God's Words or know His presence though He is with me. Thank God for sustaining and restoring me. Thankfully after my diagnosis of proneness to bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness) last year, I know that this is a medical condition that can be treated. With medical help, I am experiencing relieve from severe depression by it being shortened and I am lifted up to a level that I can function and benefit from God's Words and other helps. I am learning now to manage my condition so that my down time can either be prevented or shortened, and I can live a more stable life and be useful for the Lord.

Some of God's precious promises in the Bible, which I find great comfort and encouragement in, and I am learning to cling on to are as follows:

1) When I am fearful

"Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee." Isaiah 41:1-2

"Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows." Matthew 10:29-31

"....we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." Romans 8:27

2) When I feel lonely or wonder if God loves me

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16

"The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee." Jeremiah 31:3

"...I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." Hebrews 13:5

3) When I feel troubled, lost or confused

"For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death." Psalm 48:14

"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 3:5-6
4) When I feel very weak and tired

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

"But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." Isaiah 40:31

"...My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness..." 2 Corinthians 12:9

"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13

Thank God for His many wonderful promises in His Words. May God enable us to rest in His wonderful promises and enjoy His peace which passeth all understanding, and joy to walk with Him and serve Him, no matter what we have to go through. He is with us and will never leave us nor forsake us. His grace is sufficient for us and we can do all things through Him who strengtheneth us.

How about you? Which among God's many wonderful promises in His Words is/are most precious to you?
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, …. 2 Peter 3:9

Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) … Hebrews 10:23

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Resting On God

One of my friends and sister-in-Christ, Joyce L., gave me this lovely gift. She put the pieces of jigsaw puzzles together and frame it up. She told me to remember to rest and sleep whenever I feel very tired, physically or mentally. She knows that whenever I am well or better, I am slightly manic and tend to do a lot of things, and tends to be very tired after that. She realized that if I do not get enough rest for a period of time and face much stress daily, I will eventually plunged into severe depression. Thank God for her love and kindness.

One of the thing I found really helpful recently when I felt overly strained and stressed, is to break away from whatever I was doing and just go for some rest, sleep or break. A tired and stretched brain doesn't function very well and thoughts can be distorted, which in turned can affect my feelings and behaviours. A tired and overly strained body can't function very well either.

As my freelance projects involved a lot of concentration and mental strength, I do feel more easily tired mentally. Thank God that working freelance allows me to work around my schedule and health whenever my deadlines are manageable. So I can break away from my work and just go to seek the Lord in prayers or read God's Words. I also can go and rest when I am too tired or stressed up. I normally don't need to take a nap but recently I have been needing to do that. And the rest is indeed helpful. A short nap can rejuvenate me to continue with my tasks later on.

Whenever I am manic, I have difficulty keeping to my sleeping hours as I have many racing thoughts and projects in my mind. There are 101 things that I wanted to do. But shorter sleeping hours are both a trigger as well as a symptom of manic. Sometimes I forget about this. Too many nights of sleeping lesser hours and not enough rest will caused my body to be very very tired and eventually may even plunged me into depression. Overly stretched brain and body cause the chemical in my brain to go topsy turvy. Recognizing this pattern is still not easy but I am learning by and by.

I suspect I am feeling the extreme tiredness now because of the effect of manic recently. Though I have attempted to slow down, I am still pretty occupied. I am praying for God's grace now to take short breaks throughout the day. I also try my best to exercise daily. And now I make it a point to rest when I feel very tired. And if necessary, I take a day off from my routine. On Tuesday, it was good because in the morning I went out with a friend for a short freelance project. Then in the afternoon my sister and her family came and we had a great time together. My nephew and nieces played some simple games with me and we had a great time.

A frequent reaction to daily stresses is insomnia. Thank God that my medications ie Lamictal, a mood stabiliser and Seroquel, an anti-psychotic, do help with my sleep and I take them just before I sleep. So far I don't have insomnia. So I am keeping to my sleeping hours as much as I can as I realize that it is important in managing bipolar as well as stress.

Thank God that He gives us physical rest and sleep, and strengthen and refresh our body, soul and mind, to walk anew with Him each day. Every night, I shall lay down and sleep, I commit myself and all things into His loving hands, and I will awake the next day with the joy of the Lord, because the LORD sustained me!

Thank God that He gives us spiritual rest in Him too, and refresh our soul as we rest in Him.

Thank God that I am feeling so much better now. Though physically still rather tired but I have much peace and joy in the Lord once again. The heaviness of heart and weight of cares in the recent weeks, seemed to have been lifted up by our Lord. My circumstances didn't change very much but my thoughts and feelings have changed. Thank God that He is working in my heart to strengthen me and enable me to rest in Him.

Thank you for your prayers and encouragements, my dear friends and blogging friends. May we find rest in God daily, physically, mentally and spiritually, and be refreshed each day to continue to know Him, love Him and serve Him wherever He places us. To God be the glory!


The thought of thine infinite serenity cheers me,
For I am toiling and moiling, troubled and distressed,
but thou art for ever at perfect peace.
Thy designs cause thee no fear or care of unfulfilment,
they stand fast as the eternal hills.
Thy power knows no bond,
thy greatness no stint.
Thou bringest order out of confusion,
and my defeats are thy victories:
The Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
I come to thee as a sinner with cares and sorrow,
to leave every concern entirely to thee,
every sin calling for Christ's precious blood;
Revive deep spirituality in my heart;
Let me live near to the great shepherd,
hear his voice, know its tones, follow its calls.
Keep me from deception by causing me to abide in the truth,
from harm by helping me to walk in the power of the Spirit.
Give me intenser faith in the eternal verities,
burning into me by experience the things I know;
Let me never be ashamed of the truth of the gospel,
that I may bear its reproach,
vindicate it,
see Jesus as its essence,
know in it the power of the Spirit.
Lord, help me, for I am often lukewarm and chill;
unbelief mars my confidence,
sin makes me forget thee.
Let the weeds that grow in my soul be cut at their roots;
Grant me to know that I truly live only when I live to thee,
that all else is trifling.
Thy presence alone can make me holy, devout, strong and happy.
Abide in me, gracious God.

(Taken from "The Valley of Vision", A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, Edited by Arthur Bennett, Published by The Banner of Truth Trust, 1997, Page 129.)