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Posts tagged ‘emotional pain’

THE SEARCH FOR FREEDOM: Demolishing Strongholds

(Adapted from the The Search for Freedom by Robert McGee)

Strongholds are those things which control us –they are compulsions.  Compulsions are those behaviors that we regret doing, but continue doing.  No matter how negative these behaviors are to us and no matter how we hate them, we still do them.  When we were very young, we developed patterns of responding to two worlds: our inner world and the outer world.  For most of us, the inner world of our thoughts, dreams, feelings, fears, and imagination is even more powerful than the outer world of people, places, and things.  As we move through each world, we encounter pain and pleasure.  Although we gravitate toward that which gives us pleasure, pain is usually a much greater motivator.  This is especially true of emotional pain.  The way we respond to emotional pain creates the most important behavioral patterns we have.  It is, in fact, these patterns that create the core relationship problems in our lives.  I can tell what I really believe by how I respond to life, not what I say I believe.  Here’s how the process usually works:

1) We are born and know little if anything about truth;  2) As we’re growing up, the people around us teach us what life is all about – Who I am, Who to trust, What’s good or bad, What I’m worth, What life and this world is all about…and so forth;  3) The things we are told become a system of beliefs upon which we evaluate all new incoming information accepted or rejected as we compare it with our basic beliefs (i.e., Basic Beliefs vs. New Information); 4) Our definition of “truth” becomes whatever it is that we have been taught, and our beliefs begin to dictate our behavior.  Then, as other people respond to our behavior, their responses tend to reinforce what we believe to be true.

In John 8:32, Jesus says, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  Is it possible to hear truth and not be free?  Sure it is!  It’s not enough to intellectually know truth.  We must know the truth experientially as well.  Intellectual knowledge can become dangerous if it is not put into practice.  Many people think their intellectual knowledge of Scripture makes them more spiritually mature than others.  Yet such people are not always better off for all their so-called knowledge.

God’s Word can be profitable only as the Holy Spirit provides understanding.  Scriptural principles that are learned and applied apart from direct interaction with God may be worthless and perhaps even destructive. But when we include God in the learning process, He helps us know and experience the truth.

God makes it clear that freedom is possible if we only put what we know into practice.  Although strongholds exist and hold power over people, they are problems that can be overcome.

In 2 Cor 10:3-5, God’s promise is:  “Though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Contrasted against the ineffective weapons of this world, God’s weapons wield His power.  And because His power is infinitely stronger than the power of the flesh, only His weapons are capable of destroying strongholds.  These strongholds are so named because they are stronger than the flesh.  It takes a higher power to destroy them. The flesh is no match for the power of any spirit – God’s or otherwise.  Strongholds exist because of the influence of ungodly supernatural forces.  They can only be destroyed by God’s Spirit, Who is not only infinitely powerful but also is motivated by love.  God is Truth.  Satan is a liar.  As long as we believe Satan’s deceptions, we will not experience the freedom God intends for our lives.  We will live instead as slaves to the strongholds that are built upon false beliefs.  So many of the false beliefs we suffer from are negative messages we learned as children that continue to control us.  That’s why it is so essential to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor 10:5).  This is a key step.  It is one of those specific truths that must be experienced – not simply absorbed intellectually.  Spiritual maturity means consistently conforming one’s own thought life to the thoughts of God.

THE C.R.O.P. PROCESS – CONFESSION,  REPENTANCE,  OBEDIENCE,  PRAISE

Confession. To confess literally means “to agree with God.”  We need to agree with God that our strongholds are evil.  We need to acknowledge our sinful behavior as a major obstacle on our road to freedom.  True confession of sin is more than agreeing with God about the actuality of sin.  It must go beyond and help us to realize the reality of sin’s destructiveness.  Until we see evil for what it is, we will never understand the full depth of God’s forgiveness.  In addition to helping us see the destructiveness of our sin, confession helps us by revealing the connective ness of our sins.  We may confess the sin of lying, and God may show how the lying is connected to pride or a need to keep everyone pleased with our performance.  Our sins are usually connected to other sins.  If we allow God to show us the connections, we can clear out a network of evil from our lives.

With confession we are dependent on the Holy Spirit to show us: (1) our surface sins, (2) how each sin might be connected to other sins, and (3) the extent of destructive evil in our lives due to our sins.  Attempting to discern these things apart from the Holy Spirit will only lead into morbid introspection and the unveiling of hurts that will not be comforted.  The Holy Spirit knows exactly what and how much we are capable of handing.

Repentance. The concept of repentance is one of “turning back.”  Through repentance we turn from our self-willed approach to life and reestablish a face-to-face relationship with Jesus.  We often think repentance involves promising to do something to become more worthwhile to God.  By focusing on our performance, we miss out on what it really means to be in a relationship. When we truly relate to God, we can do no less than relate to Him as LORD.  We must accept His leadership and lordship in our lives through the Holy Spirit. Some of us find it hard to accept a complete yielding to God, especially those who have lived with great hurt in their lives.

Ironically, the more we need to control this yielding process, the less control we have.  Fear begins to rule because we feel if we lose control something bad will happen to us, something hurtful, so we refuse to yield to anyone – including God.

Trust is a precious commodity.  The Lord challenges us to: “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him”  (Ps 34:8).  Through repentance we “turn back” the control of our lives to God.  He’s the only One capable of handling it without all the hurts and fears that would otherwise result.  Associated with repentance is reliance.  For too much of our lives, we have relied on the patterns of childhood.  We cannot be in a state where we are not reliant on something or someone.  We will rely either on the patterns of our flesh, or the guidance of the Spirit.  Scripture states this clearly in Galatians 5:16 when it says, “Walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh” (NAS).  Unfortunately, we often try to turn from something without turning to the God who can set us free.  Pray for the courage and exercise of faith that only God can give so that you can repent and rely on God.

Obedience. In the step of obedience, we need to turn our attention to God’s power.  By the time we discover strongholds in our lives, we also see that we are incapable of doing away with them using our own power.  If we are to discover what God can do through us, we must learn to respond to Him differently than we have in the past.  If we have failed to respond to Him, or have responded in wrong ways, we need to change how we relate to Him.  If our confession and repentance are genuine, we should see things from God’s perspective.  Obedience shouldn’t seem like an unpleasant alternative.  It’s a change of response that we should be more than willing to undertake.  If we have prepared through true confession and repentance, we have tapped into God’s power to confront the darkness of our souls.  Does this mean our battle against evil is won?  Not by a long shot!  That’s why obedience is such an important step.  Continued obedience results in continued victory.  But it’s easy to revert to our old, self-centered ways. When we seek to take back the control of our lives, we set ourselves up for failure.  Yet God is quick to forgive us when we see the error of our ways and turn back to Him.  When it comes to obedience, we can learn by trying even if we fail.  A far worse mistake is to refuse to change how we respond to God and fall back into the same patterns that have always controlled us.

Praise. We are commanded throughout Scripture to offer praise and give thanks to God.  Probably praise is the highest form of spiritual warfare.  After genuine confession, repentance, and obedience, praise is not optional – it’s automatic.  The first three steps will produce freedom from our strongholds and an overriding sense of freedom in our lives.  As we experience this freedom that only God can provide, our hearts will praise Him.

 

AN EXAMPLE OF HOW THE C R O P PROCESS WORKS  (With Bitterness) –

Confessing Bitterness. We need to pray that God will search our hearts and find anything that might be there which would trace back to bitterness.  As we yield to the illumination of the Holy Spirit, we might recall events we have not thought of in years.  Allow the Holy Spirit to bring the truth to light.  It’s also important not to argue with the Spirit when such things are revealed.  Our first instinct will be to defend our actions.  Often, we give ourselves permission to react in destructive ways – rebellion, drug use, sexual activity, withdrawal, self-will, or passivity.  Things such as these can be connected to bitterness, and we need to deal with each stronghold.  Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how these responses have destroyed or limited your life.  Take your time.  Unless you experience with God what these improper responses have done to your life, you will not be ready to go forward.  When God says you have seen enough and you have confessed these things, then you are ready to go to the next step.

Repenting of Bitterness. Bitterness and its related behaviors are the products of a self-willed life.  The thought of living any other way will be frightening.  You may have heard about, talked about, and sung about the lordship of Christ for most of your life.  But at this stage, when you actually begin to experience it, you may experience a sensation of death within your soul.  You are, in fact, putting to death your old ways of responding to life.  This will feel uncomfortable and frightening at first.  As we repent and turn back toward God, there will be an awesomeness about the experience.  We clearly see who we are only by first seeing clearly who He is.

Obedience as a Replacement for Bitterness. Much of our behavior is not what it should be due to the bitterness we have harbored for so long.  God has shown us the problem areas and we have repented of them by agreeing that they are wrong and seeing the extent of their destructive influence.  But now we have to replace each of those errant behaviors with obedience to God.  In some cases, we already know what we’re supposed to do.  In other instances, however, we might need to continue to search God’s Word and seek His will for how to stop being so bitter.  Again, take your time.  God does not reveal problems without also revealing solutions.  As we begin to conform to His will in the ways we know how, we will begin to see what we need to do in the other areas as well.  It is through obedience that you see God’s complete power over the stronghold of bitterness.

Praise for Victory over Bitterness. The struggle against bitterness has been a long and difficult one, even with God’s help.  It has taken time and energy to see the extent of the effects of bitterness in your life.  It has been painful to repent of each of these things.  Replacing improper behaviors with godly ones has taken a lot of effort as well.  When you experience release from the devastating weight of bitterness, joy will fill your soul.  Praise will flow from your lips.  This newfound feeling of freedom will affect everything you do.  You don’t have to understand it.  You can’t understand it.  Just enjoy it and appreciate it.  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6-7).

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER –

Going through the C.R.O.P. process will be difficult at first.  But as you begin to use the steps of Confession, Repentance, Obedience, and Praise on a regular basis, the process won’t seem nearly as cumbersome.  Since you are following the same pattern, you’ll quickly become accustomed to going through the steps.  When handled correctly, these steps are weapons.  No stronghold – not even Satan himself – can stand against them.  Strongholds can only be formed when you let a problem go unattended for a long period of time.  When you were younger, you didn’t know any better.  Your strongholds took advantage of your childhood patterns, your fears, and your desire to avoid pain at any price.  Now that you can see things a bit more clearly, you can eliminate those strongholds.  They will try to come back.  However, you will have destroyed the power of Satan in those stronghold areas.  So as long as you continue to draw on God’s power to face down your strongholds, they should never regain control.

AVOIDING COMMON FAILURES AND SETBACKS –

“I’ve tried this before, and it didn’t work for me.”

Some people don’t give it a chance.  These doubts are what Scripture calls “fiery darts” or “flaming arrows” (Eph 6:16, NAS).  Go back through the process and see where you may have gone about it in an ineffective manner.

“My case is worse than other people’s.  God can’t fix me.”

This excuse limits God’s power.  You will remain in bondage if you think God is not strong enough or willing enough to set you free.

I’m afraid.  What happens if I try and fail?”

Many people continue to do nothing because they fear the solution won’t work.  What do you have to lose?  It’s as if one has lost most hope of getting well and isn’t willing to risk the little that remains.  As long as you do nothing, you can hope your problem will go away by itself.  The thinking is if I try something else and fail, the little hope I have will be lost.  However, without overcoming this passivity by taking some kind of action in God’s power, the problem will never go away.  Indeed, it will only get stronger and harder to deal with.  If we direct the little bit of faith we have toward God, He will provide us with “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Eph 3:20).

“I don’t want the responsibility of freedom.”

While some people are afraid of seeking freedom and not succeeding, others are reluctant to risk freedom because they fear they will succeed.  They realize their strongholds are a prison, yet they’ve learned to cope with them.  They now know their way around. The pain is intense, but they are managing it…so far, at lease.  They may even realize that it’s a fairly sick way to operate, but it’s gotten them this far, hasn’t it?  It scares them to consider change.  If they become free of this stronghold, what will happen? The thought of freedom is just too scary.

“I gave it a shot, but forget it.  I quit!”

Some people simply quit too soon.  The pain generated by trying to break free seems too much for them.  Jut when they get to a breakthrough point, they give up.  Quitting before acquiring freedom makes it very difficult for a person to attempt the C.R.O.P. process again.  Patience and perseverance are required to get all the way through.

Don’t Hide Your Hurt, Heal Your Marriage

SOURCE:  Taken from an article by Mark Merrill

Wounds in a marriage, big or small, can be difficult to deal with. During a recent conversation with a friend who has been navigating through some painful things in his own marriage, I realized that there’s an important choice that faces every man and woman when dealing with these wounds in marriage. Every husband and wife can either choose to cover festering wounds in their relationship and prevent healing or choose to expose those wounds and promote healing.

There are several reasons why a spouse or couple might try to leave untreated, or even hide, the hurtful wounds in their marriage instead of exposing them. Here are just a few:

Pride – They refuse to admit to their spouse that they’ve done anything wrong in the relationship to contribute to the hurt. Or, they worry about being embarrassed and what a spouse, family, or friends would think if they really knew what happened to them.

Fear – They fear what they might lose if the hurt is exposed, and that loss seems to outweigh any good they might gain from getting healthy.

Shame – They already feel guilty about some of the things they have done or have been done to them, and don’t want or need anyone else to pile on.

Pain – Maybe the pain is all they’ve really ever known and so they just live with it because it’s tolerable.

Hopelessness – They think, “What’s the use. We’ve talked about this over and over, but the same hurtful things are still being done. My spouse is never going to change. Things are never going to be different.”

In one of my posts, “Confession: My Wife and I Struggle Too,” I shared some challenges we’ve had in our marriage. Fortunately, they are all fixable issues we’ve worked through or are working on. What did Susan and I do to address these struggles and the ways we’ve sometimes hurt one another? We looked for credible, encouraging, experienced voices in books, other marriage resources, and seminars. We worked hard to identify problems, confess them, apologize to each other, and commit to working through them–together.

We also recognized that sometimes we needed an outside perspective. We have found those perspectives in places like a marriage class at church, a close, trusted couple we’ve known for years, and a marriage counselor. Yep…Mark and Susan Merrill have needed to lean on a professional counselor a time or two. And we wouldn’t change a thing. Read my previous blogs on 4 Ways to Know When It’s Time for Marriage Counseling and Finding a Good Marriage Counselor: Stacking the Deck in Your Favor. Here are some more steps on How to Heal a Wounded Heart.

So today, instead of ignoring or hiding your hurt, open it up and start treating it. Only then will the healing begin.

Anger, Pain and Depression

SOURCE: Nando Pelusi, Ph.D./Psychology Today

Anger, pain and depression are sometimes perceived as one big emotion, but when you don’t distinguish between them, they could end up fueling each other.

Anger, pain and depression are three negative experiences so closely bound together it can sometimes be hard to know where one ends and the other begins. Pain is a complex phenomenon that has emotional and physical components. The emotions play a huge role in the experience of pain, and pain is intimately associated with depression. It’s long been known that the psychic pain of depression feeds anger. But just as often, anger fuels depression.

A powerful emotion physiologically and emotionally, anger often feels good—but only for the moment. It can be a motivating force that moves you to action. But there are good actions and bad ones; it’s vital to distinguish between the two.

Many people confuse anger and hostility. Anger is a response to a situation that presents some threat. Hostility is a more enduring characteristic, a predisposition, a personality trait reflecting a readiness to express anger.

Anger is usually anything but subtle. It has potent physiological effects. You feel it in your chest. You feel it in your head. You feel it coursing through your body.

Nevertheless, anger can be insidious. Anger confers an immediate sense of purpose; it’s a shortcut to motivation. And if there’s something depressed people need, it’s motivation. But anger creates a cycle of rage and defeatism.

When you feel anger, it provides the impulse to pass the pain along to others. The boss chews you out, you then snap at everyone in your path. Anger, however, can eventually lead you into self-pity, because you can’t slough off the self-hurt.

Anger is classically a way of passing psychic pain on to others. The two-step: You feel hurt, “poor me,” “I hate you.” It’s a way of making others pay for your emotional deficits. It is wise to change that tendency. Whether or not anger fuels depression, it isn’t good for the enjoyment of life.

Here are ways to keep anger from feeding your depression.

  • First, of course, is to identify anger and to acknowledge it. Anger is one of those emotions whose expression is sometimes subject to taboos so that people can grow up unable to recognize it; they feel its physical discomfort but can’t label it.
  • Build a lexicon for your internal states. If you have a word for your emotional state, then you can begin to deal with it. Feelings are fluid; you need to stop and capture them in a word, or else you lose them and don’t know you have them. A label improves your ability to understand your feelings.
  • View your anger as a signal. It is not something to be escaped. It is not something to be suppressed. It is something to be accepted as a sign that some deeper threat has occurred that needs your attention.
  • Make yourself aware of the purpose your anger serves. Be sure to distinguish purpose from passion. Things that have a positive purpose seek betterment, growth, love, enhancement, fulfillment. Things that have a negative purpose are motivated by a sense of deficiency. Your boss yells at you, you feel diminished; the anger you express at others is driven by the blow you’ve just received. Are you enraged about an inequity or unfairness?In order to identify your motivation, you need to look within. It’s a matter of becoming psychological-minded and engaging in introspection. Tune into the inner dialogue that you customarily have with yourself.
  • If your anger is deficiency-motivated, driven by a wish to rectify a wrong you believe done to you, work on acceptance. Give up your obsession about the wrong. See that the opposite of anger is not passivity but more functional assertiveness.
  • Uproot mistaken beliefs that underlie your response. Very often anger is the result of beliefs that lead you to place unreasonable demands on circumstances, such as, that life must be fair. Unfairness exists. The belief that you are entitled to fairness results from the mistaken idea that you are special. If you feel that you are special, you will certainly find lots to be angry about, because the universe is indifferent to us.Insisting that life must be fair is not only irrational, it will cause you to collect injustices done to your noble self. Even if you are experiencing nothing more than your fair share of unfairness, such a belief can still fuel rage and lead to depression.Those who hold the deep belief that life should always be fair cannot abide when it is unfair. That leads directly to rage that is totally inert, because they believe there is nothing that they can do about the unfairness. They feel helpless and hopeless—in other words, depressed. Self-pity is another description of the same phenomenon.
  • Notice your own complaining. Listen for both overt and covert complaining. Overt complaining hassles others. It’s really a manipulative strategy. Know when it’s becoming a downer and a barrier to a strategy of effectiveness—like complaining about a fly in your soup. Covert complaining hassles you; it drags you down into passivity and inertia. Once you notice it, determine to give it up.
  • Once you can accept that life sometimes is unfair, then you can pursue positive purpose. You can work constructively against injustices you find, transforming your anger into passion. Or you can pursue fulfillment in spite of the unfairness that exists.

Suffering From REJECTION ?

SOURCE:  Excerpted from Rejection by June Hunt

Favoritism can be extremely painful.

Children catch on quickly when there is a “favorite” in the family. The favored child often comes late in life—late like young Joseph in the Bible, the beloved son of Jacob. In his heart, the father not only favors Joseph over his ten brothers, but also flaunts his favoritism by giving Joseph the infamous “coat of many colors”—a coat Jacob himself has made! Meanwhile, the older brothers seethe with anger at the sight of this richly ornamented robe, which has now become a symbol of their father’s painful rejection. Little did Jacob know that his own favoritism would be the breeding ground for jealousy—the spark that would create a climate of hurt, hostility, and lasting hatred.

“Now Israel [Jacob] loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.” (Genesis 37:3–4)

WHAT IS Rejection?
Have you ever wondered, What was the very first rejection on earth? The first rejection is recorded in the first book of the Bible. God gives Adam and Eve everything they will ever need. He also gives one warning, “Don’t eat from that one tree.” And what do they do? They eat from that one tree! Their direct defiance means that they reject not just God’s Word, but also God Himself (Genesis 2:15–17; 3:6).

• Rejection is the act of refusing to accept or consider a person or thing that is not wanted or not approved.1

▆ When you experience rejection, you feel unloved, unwanted, unacceptable.
▆ The Greek verb apodokimazo means “to reject as the result of examination and disapproval.”2 (apo = away from, dokimazo = to approve)
▆ Jesus felt the pain of rejection. The Bible refers to Christ as the “Cornerstone”—the vital, the most essential stone of a major structure—yet He was the cornerstone (or capstone) the builders rejected.

“The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone.” (Matthew 21:42)

• To be rejected is to be cast aside, cast off, cast away—to be thrown away as having no value.3

▆ When you are rejected, you can feel useless, abandoned, worthless.
▆ The Greek verb atheteo means “to do away with, to set aside, to cast or throw away as useless or unsatisfactory.”4
▆ Jesus challenged the Pharisees and teachers of the law because they were rejecting the laws of God.

“You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!” (Mark 7:9)

• To reject someone means to despise, refuse, shun, turn away from.5

▆ If you reject others, you use your attitudes and actions to reveal the condition of your heart.
▆ The Hebrew word maas means “to reject, refuse, despise.”6
▆ Because God has given each of us free will, we may choose to reject the Word of God and even God Himself.

“The wise will be put to shame; they will be dismayed and trapped. Since they have rejected the word of the LORD, what kind of wisdom do they have?” (Jeremiah 8:9)

QUESTION: “My father died six years ago, but I’m still having trouble dealing with the anger I’ve had toward him. He was partial to my brother, but treated my sister, my mother, and me like second-class citizens. I tried to please him with my achievements, but we never communicated and he never recognized my accomplishments. How can I stop being so controlled by my anger?”

ANSWER: Anger has four sources: hurt, fear, frustration, and injustice. The anger you describe comes from at least three of the four. The rejection you experienced is very hurtful. Seeking to please him and never achieving recognition is extremely frustrating, and being treated in a negative way simply because you are a female is most unjust. The truth is that his treatment of you had nothing to do with you, but everything to do with him. He was the one in the wrong. His inadequacies let you down. Recognize this truth and turn loose of your expectations regarding him. Admit that your father was unable to be loving and accept him simply for being your father. Choose to forgive and release him to God so that your anger does not produce bitterness in your own heart.

“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:15).

WHAT IS Acceptance?
Joseph understood rejection. Although he was his father’s favorite son, Joseph was betrayed by his brothers. Imagine Joseph as a teenager—he suddenly finds himself jerked out of his comfortable home, only to be carted off to a foreign country to live as a stranger, to live as a slave! The grief of losing his family must have been frightening.

Still, Joseph accepted the will of God in his life, which enabled him to accept the sovereignty of God over his life. In spite of one betrayal after another, Joseph refused to become bitter. Instead, he accepted his circumstances by humbly entrusting himself to God.

As years passed, Joseph rose to a position of highest respect and power. When his brothers journeyed to Egypt in search of grain, they found themselves at the mercy of Joseph. Immediately, he knew who they were—but they didn’t know who he was!

Did he take revenge and refuse to give them grain? Did he send them off with grain, but not acknowledge them as brothers? Did he extend his hand of help, but insist they bow before him?

No. Joseph refused resentment—he accepted his brothers despite their past betrayal. By inviting them to become part of his life once again, they knew his acceptance was not merely conditional, but rather unconditional. And, in truth, his acceptance was possible only because of the condition of his heart—his heart of true forgiveness, which allowed him to focus on the future, and his heart of true commitment, which enabled him to let the past stay in the past. (Read Genesis 37:12–29 and chapters 41–45.)

• To accept someone means to approve or to receive that one favorably or willingly.7 We should receive and value others because of their God-given worth.

▆ Your acceptance of others is based on the disposition of your heart, which, in turn, is expressed through your attitude and actions.
▆ The Greek word proslambano means “to accept, receive, welcome.”8
▆ Jesus Christ provides the supreme example of acceptance. The Bible says we are to accept others the same way Christ accepts us.

“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Romans 15:7)

WHAT ARE Three Levels of Acceptance?
When we reject someone, if we look closely, we may find that we are repeating the same rejection that we ourselves have received. The same is true of those who have learned to be accepting of others. Typically, we give what has been given to us. However, your past rejection need not determine your future. You can grow in your ability to become more and more accepting—even when you yourself have been rejected. The Bible says …
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” (Isaiah 43:18)

The Three Levels of Acceptance9

1 Zero Acceptance

• “No matter what I do, I’ll never be accepted.”
The person who totally rejects you harbors deep hurt and bitterness and extends no grace and mercy. But the Bible says …
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31–32)

2 Performance-based Acceptance

• “I feel accepted only when I perform perfectly.”
The person who accepts you based only on how you act demands, “You must meet my requirements,” and rarely offers grace and mercy. But the Bible says …
“Judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!” (James 2:13)

3 Unconditional Acceptance

• “No matter what I do, even when I fail, I always feel accepted.”
The person who accepts you—especially when you fail—lives with a heart of grace and mercy and reflects the heart of God. The Bible says …
“Show mercy and compassion to one another.” (Zechariah 7:9)

QUESTION: “Can an authentic Christian be rejected by God?”

ANSWER: No. Based on various verses in the Bible, an authentic Christian who has truly trusted in Christ will still sin but will never be rejected by God. If you find yourself fearful of being forsaken by God, claim the following truth from God’s unchanging Word:
“For the LORD will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance.” (Psalm 94:14)

CHARACTERISTICS OF THOSE FEELING REJECTED10
The teenage years can be replete with life’s most painful rejections. Because of severe insecurity, young people crave acceptance from others and often overreact to any rejection.
By age seventeen, Joseph felt the sting of rejection from his older brothers. But, in truth, Joseph played a part in causing his brothers’ jealousy. Although God had given Joseph a special ability to interpret dreams, Joseph unwisely disclosed a certain dream to his older brothers which implied that one day they would all bow down to him. Speaking these words was not smart on Joseph’s part!

“Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, ‘Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.’” (Genesis 37:5–7)

How insulting! How impertinent! How arrogant! Resenting the implication that Joseph would “lord” over them, his brothers continued to be filled with an animosity that eventually reached a boiling point. These brothers, who felt such intense rejection, in turn took revenge and made sure that Joseph would pay dearly. Joseph’s brothers did not realize that although some say, “Revenge is sweet,” it can also leave a bitter aftertaste. That is why the Bible says …
“See to it that … no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:15)

ARE YOU Controlled by the Fear of Rejection?
If your sense of self-worth is based on the approval of others, you are on a runaway roller coaster with no ability to control when you are up or down. Your feeling of value is at the mercy of what others think about you. Your sense of identity is determined by how others respond to you. To get off this uncontrollable roller coaster and conquer your fear of rejection, allow the Lord to control your life. He created you and established your worth when He made you in His image. As you put your trust in Him, He will turn your fear into faith because …
“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” (Proverbs 29:25)

Messages of One Who Is Addicted to the Approval of Others
If you think you may be living for the approval of others, honestly evaluate the following statements to see if they reflect your self-talk.

• “I am not good enough.”
• “I have to try harder.”
• “I have to earn your love.”
• “I have to be perfect.”
• “I can never please you.”
• “I always feel stupid.”
• “I am always the one at fault.”
• “I am not acceptable in the eyes of others.”
• “I know that what I think isn’t important.”
• “I know there is nothing likeable about me.”
• “I don’t deserve to be loved.”
• “I don’t feel anyone could really love me.”
• “I don’t feel that God could ever love me.”

Even though you may think these thoughts are true about yourself, they don’t reflect God’s truth. The Bible says …
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

The Fear of Rejection Test11

If we feel controlled by the fear of rejection, then our focus will be on being “people pleasers.” However, we need to say what the apostle Paul said:
“We are not trying to please men but God.” (1 Thessalonians 2:4)

If you are uncertain whether or not you are living for the approval of others, answer the following questions honestly to see if you live with the fear of rejection.

• Do you avoid certain people out of fear that they will reject you?
• Do you become anxious when you think someone might not accept you?
• Do you feel awkward around others who are different from you?
• Do you feel disturbed when someone is not friendly toward you?
• Do you work hard at trying to determine what people think of you?
• Do you become depressed when others are critical of you?
• Do you consider yourself basically shy and unsociable around others?
• Do you try to see the negative in others?
• Do you find yourself trying to impress others?
• Do you repeat negative messages about yourself to yourself?
• Do you look for clues as to how others are responding to you in order to avoid the pain of rejection?
• Do you say “Yes” when you should say “No” to others?
• Do you expect others to respond to situations and conversations in the same way you would?
• Do you hear people saying that you are a “codependent person”?
• Do you experience hypersensitivity to the opinions of others but insensitivity to your own emotions?
• Do you often feel overly controlled by others?
• Do you struggle with anger and resentment toward others?
• Do you seem to be easily manipulated by others?

If you conclude that you have been controlled by the fear of rejection and you have lived for the approval of others, take this verse to heart:
“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)

WHAT ARE Inner Symptoms of Rejection?12

What are the ramifications of rejection? Perhaps you’ve been unaware of its subtle impact on your soul (your mind, will, and emotions). One obvious assault that rejection makes on your soul is an altering of your own self-perception and the inevitable insecurities that seem to arise out of nowhere when someone painfully turns away from you. That rejection can sear the deepest part of your soul and at the same time “mess with” your mind, taint your thoughts, and make you question your ability to function normally. But God, who knows every rejection you will ever encounter, never planned for you to be emotionally or spiritually disabled. Although you will be rejected, the Bible says …
“God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)

The following are many of the classic symptoms of those who have been rejected in the past and as a result have a fear of future rejection.

• Ambivalence—“I have difficulty making decisions— if I make the wrong decision, I could be rejected.”
• Anxiety—“I have real apprehension when someone says, ‘Trust me.’”
• Bitterness—“I harbor bitterness toward those who rejected me and toward God, who allowed it to happen.”
• Depression—“My heart feels so heavy. The pain has pushed me down.”
• Distrust—“I can’t really trust others not to desert me.”
• Escapism—“Life hurts. I just need to numb the pain.”
• Fear—“I live in fear of being rejected again.”
• Flat emotions—“My heart is so deeply hurt that I can’t seem to feel excited about anything.”
• Guilt/false guilt—“I feel so bad about myself. No wonder I was rejected.”
• Inability to accept love—“Even if others say that they love me, I know it’s not true.”
• Inferiority—“I know I’ll never measure up!”
• Insensitivity—“I can’t feel for others who are in pain.”
• Introspective—“I’ve got to keep analyzing what’s wrong with me.”
• Low self-worth—“I know I’m not worthy of being accepted.”
• Resignation—“Whatever will be, will be, so why try?”
• Self-condemnation—“I feel terrible. I know I’m to blame whenever I’m rejected.”
• Self-pity—“I’m always ignored. No one reaches out to me.”
• Self-rejection—“I wish I’d never been born!”
• Withdrawal—“I’m not willing to be vulnerable again.”
• Worry—“I’m afraid I’ll be scarred for life.”

WHAT ARE Outer Signs of Rejection?13

The unseen pain of rejection can sabotage your soul and shatter your spirit; however, the outer signs of rejection are easily seen and even felt by others. When someone special walks out of your life, the joy of living is snuffed out like having a wet towel thrown on a lit candle. The darkness of desertion can discolor your perception of others and do untold damage to your relationships. The saddest part of it all is that rejection breeds rejection!
In truth, no one can avoid being rejected or treated unjustly at times. However, when you remember that your identity is in the Lord, because of your relationship with Him—not in your having been rejected by others—you will experience the truth that you, like Paul, can be …
“ … hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8–9)

Many of the outer signs of rejection are:

• Abuse—Mistreating others and even yourself
• Addiction—Seeking solace in addictive behavior in an effort to numb your pain.
• Anger—Feeling bitterness toward others and even toward God
• Apathy—Giving up on life—not caring about anything
• Arrogance—Acting superior to others
• Competitive—Assuming, I have to be the best
• Critical spirit—Being condescending toward others
• Defensive—Arguing with others for self-protection
• Dominant—Controlling others and situations to an excess
• Exaggeration—Bragging to impress others
• Hatred—Loathing (primarily directed toward yourself)
• Isolation—Becoming a loner as a means of self-protection
• Jealousy—Resenting suggestions and successes of others
• Legalism—Complying with rigid rules based on black-and-white thinking
• People pleasing—Trying too hard to please others
• Perfectionism—Feeling like a failure unless you do everything perfectly
• Performance-based acceptance—Believing your acceptance is based only on how well you perform
• Rebellion—Resisting the authority of others
• Subservient—Cowering in the presence of others
• Undisciplined—Lacking self-control and boundaries around others
• Vengeful—Getting even with others

WHAT ARE Thoughts, Feelings, and Vows?14
When you experienced painful rejection in the past, do you remember rehearsing repeated thoughts, feelings, and perhaps even “vows”? Unfortunately, these repetitious thoughts (I’m not accepted) and emotions (I feel unwanted) lead to an illogical conclusion (I vow that no one will hurt me again).
How we live our lives is based on what we believe. Therefore, if we believe we are rejected, we will live a life of rejection in our minds, our hearts, and our emotions, even when we are not outwardly rejected by others.

• Repeated Thoughts:

▆ “No one loves me.”
▆ “No one cares about me.”
▆ “I don’t really matter.”
▆ “I’m not good enough.”
▆ “I don’t fit in.”
▆ “I’m not accepted.”

• Repeated Feelings:

▆ “I feel empty inside.”
▆ “I feel all alone.”
▆ “I feel insignificant.”
▆ “I feel like I’m not worth anything.”
▆ “I feel unwanted.”
▆ “I feel excluded.”

• Repeated Vows:

▆ “I’m not going to get close to anyone again.”
▆ “I’m not going to let anyone be important to me again.”
▆ “No one will ever hurt me again.”

This progression demonstrates the importance of taking your thoughts captive, training your mind, telling yourself the truth. You are accepted by God; therefore, allow Him to heal your heart from the pain of the past. If you will cancel the vows that are contrary to God’s Word, you will experience perfect peace in your life.

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

———————————————————————————————————————–
Hunt, J. (2013). Rejection (june hunt hope for the heart). Torrance, CA: Aspire Press.

Forgiving the One Who Hurt Me

SOURCE:  Living Free

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” 

Ephesians 4:32 NIV

If you are divorced or have recently experienced a broken engagement or separation, you probably are having painful feelings of rejection.

The sense of loss felt in these situations can be overwhelming. You thought you were secure and now you suddenly find yourself on your own. You might even have children to care for and inadequate resources of time and money.

Even though you have been rejected by someone very close to you, your attitude toward that rejection is your choice. You may choose to allow the pain of rejection to dominate and define the rest of your life, causing bitterness, depression and self-pity. Or you may choose to forgive the one who has hurt you, to accept your singleness—at least until God leads you in a different direction—and to move on with your life … making the most of each day.

Even with positive choices, the pain won’t immediately disappear—but it will begin to heal. The time and money challenges will still be there, but you will be able to start dealing with them.

We live in a society of “quick fixes,” but recovering from this kind of hurt is a process. Learn to take one step at a time, trusting God to strengthen you and allowing him to love you.

Father, help me to forgive. You have forgiven me of so much, even though I didn’t deserve it. Help me to forgive and to begin rebuilding my life. I know I can only do that with your strength, your love and your guidance. Thank you for freely giving me all this and more. In Jesus’ name …

7 Suggestions for Processing Pain

SOURCE:  Ron Edmondson

What’s a great way to process (emotional) pain?

Here are 7 biblical ways:

Expect God to use pain for good – Genesis 50:20, Romans 8:28

Use it to comfort others with similar pain – 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Reconsider your perspective on the pain – Romans 8:18

Receive the honor of suffering pain – Philippians 1:29

Accept the normality of pain – 1 Peter 4:12

Celebrate His sufficiency during pain -2 Corinthians 12:8-9

Look for the reward in suffering through pain – 2 Timothy 4:7-8

How we respond to emotional pain is a choice we make.

The promises of God are real, even during our times of suffering. In the earliest days of any trial, we may not see any of these truths at work. That’s okay. We are frail people. The key is as we move forward, what we do with the pain in the days to come. Painful times are not going away in this earthly life. Jesus told us that. Learning to rest in Him is part of maturing as followers of Christ.

Suffering reminds us that His grace is sufficient for all our pain. In fact, though I don’t completely understand it, His power is perfect in our weakness, but only when I surrender the pain to Him.

We are not intended to handle pain alone. Thankfully, by His grace, we don’t have to.

Are you learning to “cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you”?

Hide the Pain, Suffer Longer

SOURCE: Adapted from  Stepping Stones/Lighthouse Network

Most of us are very selective about the parts of our lives we voluntarily bring into God’s presence.

We hesitate to bring traits that we consider shameful … partly because we actually believe He doesn’t see them, and partly because we are ashamed to even think about them again. Some of us are so used to living with pain, loneliness, guilt, fear, anxiety, and stress that it never occurs to us to ask God for help in dealing with various elements of these problems. We assume help is not available and that the pain is an unavoidable guaranteed sentence from which there is no relief.

You see, it’s as if we believe we can accumulate degree-of-difficulty points (like in diving) for overcoming hardship and pain, commonly called the martyr syndrome or victim mentality. Many times I notice people trying to one up each other by making their own path harder, then even bragging about it. “You think your life was hard, wait till you hear this” kind of mentality.

For many, pain of some kind has been such an integral part of growing up that, in a weird way, it is hard for them to navigate life without the pain, almost waiting for the other shoe to drop, feeling they don’t deserve any luck or good fortune. People like this seem to sabotage success, and even go out of their way to create problems. When  we are preoccupied with our struggles, we can even forget God is with us and will provide help.

God really desires to heal the hurting parts of your life.

However, some of the pain has been with you so long, it becomes part of your identity. Sometimes, we are so addicted to certain painful patterns that we find it difficult to break free from them. Only repeatedly exposing them to God’s healing presence and applying His instructions in the BIBLE will bring you long-term healing and freedom.

Today, turn to your Lord when you are hurting. He will share and reduce your pain.

Remember, the Bible is the book about suffering, especially spiritual suffering. The Bible tells how God loved us so much that He miraculously provided a way for ultimate healing. He also has many promises for the smaller daily sufferings we experience. Turn to your Lord when you are in pain and rejoice in these circumstances as you remember that He is with you. He has joy, peace, and comfort, as well as a message for you. He is communicating to you through your pain.

How you deal with pain is your decision, so choose well.

Dear Father God, I am so grateful to You, Lord, grateful that I can come to you no matter what condition I am in … just as I am. Thank You, Father. I am relieved that I don’t have to “clean up my act” before I come to You; You already know the worst about me. When I am hurting, I want to be with someone who understands me without condemning me. When I am happy, I delight in being with someone who loves me enough to celebrate with me. I pray that You help me bring more and more of myself to You. I pray this and all prayers in the name of the One who divides my pain and multiplies my joy, Jesus Christ;  – AMEN!

The Truth
The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. 

Psalm 126:3

 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus 

Romans 8:1

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 

1 Peter 5:6-10

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to set the captives free, and recover sight to the blind, and to set at liberty them that are bruised,  Luke 4:18

The Gift of Forgiveness

SOURCE:  Taken from an article by Leslie Vernick

Forgiveness is the oil that smoothes over the rough spots as two people struggle to love when it’s hard and become what God calls them to be. When we keep score on marital wrongs, love is impossible. Although some excellent books have been written on the subject of forgiveness, I still find in my counseling practice a common misunderstanding of what it is. When I asked one client how she will know she has forgiven her husband for his adultery she replied, “When I don’t hurt anymore.”

Getting past the emotional pain caused by someone who has hurt you is a reasonable goal, but not a prerequisite for forgiveness. In fact, it was while Jesus was in pain he forgave those who abused him saying, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Forgiveness doesn’t remove the hurt or the consequences that sin has inflicted upon the victim. Sometimes the life-long consequences are worse than the original sin.

For example. Susan wasn’t honest with her husband about how much debt they were in. She had started her own business just a few years earlier and the expenses were much greater than she had ever anticipated. Instead of sharing that burden with her husband, Susan kept it to herself and tried to resolve the household cash flow problems by taking cash advances on all the new credit card offers she received.

When the creditors finally started calling the house because of unpaid bills, Danny hit the roof. Although it wasn’t easy, eventually Dannydecided to forgive Susan for her deceit and pride even though he stillfelt hurt and angry. They had to file for bankruptcy. They lost their home and Susan’s business. If Danny waited until he felt no more anger or pain before he forgave Susan, their marriage may not have survived. The consequences of Susan’s deceit was devastating and would impact their lives for years.

Extending the gift of forgiveness doesn’t guarantee an absence of pain. Neither does it imply an automatic restoration of the relationship. Sometimes we confuse forgiveness and reconciliation. Forgiveness is something we can choose to offer because of who we are. God tells us we are required and empowered to forgive because we have been forgiven, not because the other person deserves our forgiveness or has even asked for it. In fact, it is often the person who has hurt us the most that never asks us for forgiveness. They are not sorry, or they simply don’t care.

Forgiveness is choosing not to hold onto our right for justice or vengeance. We cancel the debt they owe us. In order to be able to do this we must free our heart from the bitterness and resentment we often feel when someone has wounded us. Although love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 3:8), there are times that reconciliation of the relationship depends upon the genuine repentance of the one who has sinned. 

When we sin, God eagerly desires to forgive us, but our relationship with him is broken until we repent. In order to move back into right relationship with God, we must acknowledge our sin, turn away from it and seek his forgiveness. Like God, we too must extend the gift of forgiveness to those who have hurt us, but for true reconciliation to take place, repentance and forgiveness must work together.

Part of Susan’s repentance involved cutting up all credit cards, allowing Danny to handle the checkbook and being accountable for all expenditures. The restoration of their marriage relationship involved both Danny’s decision to forgive and Susan’srepentant heart and behaviors, leading to their eventual reconciliation.

As fallen human beings, forgiving someone is not something akin to our nature. Justice and revenge come more naturally. We can only truly forgive someone if we learn how to do it from the great forgiver himself—Jesus. Part of seeing what God is up to when our spouse acts wrong is understanding that God teaches us how to become more like Jesus through this process. For how do we ever learn how to forgive if no one ever hurts us?

There is wonderful freedom in knowing we do not have to react to a painful wrong either by shutting down or retaliating. As we grow in our relationship with Christ, we become a reflection of who he is in us rather than a reflection of what others have done to us. Gary Thomas author of Sacred Marriage writes, “We will be sinned against and we will be hurt. When that happens, we will have a choice to make: We can give in to our hurt, resentment, and bitterness, or we can grow as a Christian and learn yet another important lesson on how to forgive.”

**The gift of forgiveness as well as the other gifts are from chapter 9 of How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong (WaterBrook, 2001).

Why Endure a Pain-Filled Marriage?

Editors Note:  The author of this article states he was inspired by reading a review of three new books about Abraham Lincoln (Books and Culture, Sept./Oct., 1995, p. 6).

SOURCE:  Taken from an article by John Piper

Lincoln’s marriage was a mess, and accepting the pain brought deep strength in the long run.

I write this not because it is wrong to seek refuge from physical abuse, but because, short of that, millions of marriages end over the agony of heartbreaking disappointments and frustrations. They do not need to, and there is much gain in embracing the pain for Christ and his kingdom.

Our culture has made it acceptable (and therefore easier to justify) divorce on the basis of emotional pain.  Historically, the misery of painful emotions was not a sanction of divorce in most cultures.  Marriage durability—with or without emotional pain—was valued above emotional tranquility, for the sake of the children and the stability of society.  In Christianity such rugged, enduring marriage, through pain and heartache, is rooted in the marriage of God to his rebellious people whom he has never finally cast off.

“Your husband is your Maker … For the Lord has called you, like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, even like a wife of one’s youth when she is rejected,” says your God. “For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you” (Isaiah 54:5-7).

Lincoln brought debilities into his marriage to Mary Todd.  He was emotionally withdrawn and prized reason over passion.  She said that he “was not a demonstrative man … When he felt most deeply, he expressed the least.”  He was absent, emotionally or physically, most of the time.  Before his presidency, for years he spent four months each year away from home on the judicial circuit.  He was indulgent with the children and left their management almost entirely to his wife.

Mary often flew into rages.  “She pushed Lincoln relentlessly to seek high public office; she complained endlessly about poverty; she overran her budget shamelessly, both in Springfield and in the White House;  she abused servants as if they were slaves (and ragged on Lincoln when he tried to pay them extra on the side);  she assaulted him on more than one occasion (with firewood, with potatoes);  she probably once chased him with a knife through their backyard in Springfield;  and she treated his casual contacts with attractive females as a direct threat, while herself flirting constantly and dressing to kill.

A regular visitor to the White House wrote of Mrs. Lincoln that ‘she was vain, passionately fond of dress and wore her dresses shorter at the top and longer at the train than even fashions demanded.  She had great pride in her elegant neck and bust, and grieved the president greatly by her constant display of her person and her fine clothes.’”

It was a pain-filled marriage.  The familiar lines in his face and the somber countenance reveal more than the stress of civil war.  But the two stayed married.  They kept at least that part of their vows.  They embraced the pain, even if they could not or would not remove it.

What was the gain?  God will give the final answer.

But here are two historical assessments:

1) How was it that Lincoln, when president, could work so effectively with the rampant egos who filled his administration?  “The long years of dealing with his tempestuous wife helped prepare Lincoln for handling the difficult people he encountered as president.”  In other words, a whole nation benefited from his embracing the pain.

2) “Over the slow fires of misery that he learned to keep banked and under heavy pressure deep within him, his innate qualities of patience, tolerance, forbearance, and forgiveness were tempered and refined.” America can be glad that Abraham Lincoln did not run from the fires of misery in his marriage. There were resources for healing he did not know.   But when they fail, embracing the fire is better than escape.

Godly AND Depressed

Editor’s Note:  Too often, as Christians, we can be beset by a overwhelming spirit of depression as we cling to the presence and promises of God.  This article pinpoints the reality of this dilemma AND the truths of the God who is with us through these times.

SOURCE:  Taken from the article,   Though I Sit in Darkness:  One Man’s account of keeping the faith in the midst of depression.  Discipleship Journal

I stand with the rest of the congregation for a familiar hymn. My heart is sad and parched. Mouthing the words takes a Herculean effort. I feel out-of-place in the midst of so many people with smiles on their faces and praise on their lips. I can’t remember the last time I felt buoyant in spirit or put my heart into worship. Guilt badgers me, for I’m aware that joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.

I’m trying to muster enough resolve to keep a lunch appointment with a student and to teach an afternoon class at the university. The last thing I want is to be around people. As I walk to the campus cafeteria, my gait is slow and my spirit is lethargic.

I hope the student won’t show. The idea of listening to and feigning interest in another person creates pressure that I resent. There’s a high humidity in my heart that smothers motivation and saps energy for the daily routine.

I sit in my recliner, clutching a second handful of tear-soaked tissues. In stark contrast to the afternoon sun, my spirit is pitch-black. “Where are You when I need You?” I cry aloud to God as despair envelops me. “Don’t You care enough to help?”

My weeping becomes so violent that my body convulses. All the prayers I’ve uttered seem in vain.

The pain won’t ease up.

These vignettes from the past year depict my ongoing struggle with depression. When I’m caught in it, I’m either too numb to feel anything, or the pendulum swings to the opposite extreme and I collapse in a torrent of tears. Yet whether I’m void of emotion or hypersensitive, hopelessness taunts me. A battle rages in my spirit. The voice of despair insists that the darkness is inevitable, that the pain will never subside. The voice of faith offers a rebuttal, pointing me to God and asserting that hope will have the last word. Despite the severity of the symptoms I’ve experienced, I choose to believe the voice of faith. Hope can triumph over despondency.

I believe that the gospel is hopeful, that God is good, that any form of adversity can serve a redemptive purpose. So I refuse to wave a white flag when my spirit sags. I identify with the psalmist who—within a single verse—acknowledged despondency and told himself to focus on God as an object of trust:

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God. —Ps. 42:5

I can’t claim victory over the nemesis of depression. Yet I can share how I contend with it and avoid yielding to the foe of hopelessness. I can tell you what I’m learning about keeping faith when the feeling is gone.

Godly and Depressed

A myth persists among some Christians that if a person is right with the Lord, despondency won’t descend on him. A member of my church, aware of my depression, inquired about my devotional life. I assured her that days in which I’ve had unremitting emotional pain began with Bible study, fervent prayer, and confession of known sins. She walked away, apparently unconvinced.

I’ve learned that there is no direct correlation between the onset of depression and the quality of my relationship with the Lord. I’m not suggesting that time alone with God and His Word isn’t crucial in the fight against despondency. I am saying that neglect of spiritual disciplines isn’t a satisfactory explanation for the onset of my emotional lows. I can be in the vise-grip of depression when I’m in close fellowship with the Lord, or I can be lighthearted when I’m not so close to Him.

More than once, King David experienced life-sapping melancholy that was apparently not the result of sin or disobedience. According to Ps. 13:1–2, David felt sorrow in his heart and thought that God had abandoned him. On a different occasion, David asked the Lord to be responsive to his tears and expressed a desire to smile again (Ps. 39:12–13). The same man whom the Scriptures call a “man after God’s own heart,” who encouraged others to “taste and see that the Lord is good,” experienced bouts of discouragement that we would likely call depression today.

Medical experts agree that recurring depression, especially when it cannot be linked to a personal setback or external event, has a biological basis. That’s why medical intervention may be needed. Since 1990 I’ve been under a physician’s care. Through early 2002, prescription medications boosted my mental health and kept the depression in check.

Since then, however, the effectiveness of medicines has waned, and I’ve been depressed more often than not. This has forced me to rely more on my faith for sustenance. Though there’s not a cause-and-effect relationship between my devotional habits and the onset of melancholy, faith is still key in my fight against it. I’m discovering that even depression that has a physical cause must be fought with spiritual weapons, as well as with medications.

Promises, Promises

My first weapon in the battle against despondency remains the promises in God’s Word. I’ve discovered that memorizing selected verses keeps me from giving up and yielding to the despair. God’s promises fuel the faith that’s needed to counter my hopelessness.

In Future Grace, John Piper emphasizes,

Wherever despondency comes from, Satan paints it with a lie. The lie says, “You will never be happy again. You will never be strong again. You will never have vigor and determination again. Your life will never again be purposeful. There is no morning after this night. No joy after weeping. All is gathering gloom, darker and darker.”

When I’m bombarded with similar messages, I buttress my faith with verses such as Ps. 30:5, that combat Satan’s lies: “Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Another buoyant promise that keeps me from drowning in discouragement is Nah. 1:7:

The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.

No matter how I’m feeling, I strive to cling to a right view of God as depicted in Is. 30:18: “The Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion.” I cannot prevent most attacks of despondency by memorizing Scripture, but I can shorten their stay and minimize their effects by focusing on God: who He is, what He has done for me, and what He has pledged Himself to do.

The author of Psalm 73 also fought despair by riveting his attention on truth about God. He acknowledged weakness and despondency with these words: “My flesh and my heart may fail.” Yet he refused to yield to discouragement. He battled back by telling himself, “But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (v. 26).

One effect of depression on my work is my inability to sense God’s presence as I prepare for and teach classes. That’s when I choose to lock my mental lens on Is. 41:10:

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

I “preach to myself.” I remind myself that God is with me whether or not I feel His presence. I tell myself that God’s Word, which promises His presence, is far more reliable than my fickle feelings. The outcome is that I work with renewed confidence and vigor.

Gather Round

In addition to clinging to God’s promises, I desperately need the love and support of my friends and family. During one particularly rough week, my wife and closest friends thought I might be suicidal. A friend took me to breakfast and assured me of his love. Another showed up at my house the same day. “I’m sitting by your side for the next couple of hours,” he announced. “I didn’t come with advice, but I’m here in case you want to talk or pray. Even if you just read the paper or watch TV, I’m not leaving your side.”

Their actions affirmed and encouraged me. I was on the receiving end of two of the Apostle Paul’s relational commands to believers:

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

—Gal. 6:2

Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

—1 Thess. 5:11

The Greek verb translated “encourage” literally means “to come alongside.” Remember the last time your car had a dead battery? You asked someone to pull his car alongside yours. You used jumper cables to connect the good battery and the depleted one. The energy flowed into the weaker battery until it could function on its own. What a picture of the ministry of encouragement! It occurs when sensitive people pull alongside someone whose battery is low, who needs an infusion of strength, who can’t function without assistance. I thank God for the two friends who pulled alongside me that day and gave me a jump-start.

No one can help me bear the burden of depression, however, unless I’m willing to be transparent and admit my need. I have to swallow my pride and risk appearing less than victorious before I can receive strength from other believers. On my most downhearted days, I call close friends and ask them to pray with me over the phone. Once I drove to a friend’s house and knocked on the door. When his wife answered, I pleaded through tears, “Can I borrow David for a while?”

Anyone who is depressed needs the safe harbor of a friend or a small group where he can drop anchor and receive emotional support. In some cases, the help of a Christian counselor may also be needed.

With the support of Scripture and of those around me, I am better able to recognize and experience the spiritual benefits of my despondency.

A Softened Heart

Though emotional pain is not the direct result of sin on my part, depression pays dividends in my war against sin. It softens my heart and makes me open to the Holy Spirit’s work in my life. When I’m victimized by a flagging spirit, I’m in a more dependent state. I pray more—if only for relief. And when I’m in the presence of God more often, the Holy Spirit takes advantage of my brokenness to beam a light on areas of impurity. He can expose sin more readily because there’s less pride hindering the process.

For several weeks, I supplemented my prayers with meditation on Ps. 139:23–24. Along with pleas for help with melancholy, I started asking the Lord to search my heart.

 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Subtly, the focus of my prayers began to change. Before long, the tears I shed were a result of conviction, spawned by sensitivity to sin instead of by depression. I became increasingly conscious of a tendency to stretch the truth, of lustful thoughts that I’d rationalized as being inevitable for men, and of attitudes that kept me from greater intimacy with people close to me. Repentance wouldn’t have occurred if my heart had not first been crushed by depression.

I don’t know if God permits my despondency for the purpose of purifying me, but His cleansing work has been an outcome of it. A key factor has been persisting in prayer regardless of how I feel. Keeping the line of communication open with God prevents my heart from going cold and hard.

Pointing to God

Depression not only softens my heart, but I’ve discovered that it provides an opportunity for God to receive more glory through my life and ministry. We may think a person best glorifies God through devoted service or a demonstration of uncompromising character. No doubt we honor Him in those ways. But I’m convinced that God gets more glory when we’re needy, when we’re in a situation requiring His intervention.

The idea that God gets more glory through our weakness than through our strength is couched in Ps. 50:15: “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” When we’re compelled to pray due to the limits of our own resourcefulness, God answers our plea or displays His power in some manner. The consequence is that we praise Him and testify before others of His faithfulness. Or others who see our perseverance and the fruit of our ministry salute Him, rather than us, since they’re aware of our shortcomings. Second Corinthians 12:9 reinforces this. Referring to the limitation imposed by Paul’s thorn in the flesh, God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Realizing that my need provides an opportunity for God to be magnified motivates me to pray when I’m depressed. I believe He will hear my plea because my situation offers an occasion for Him to act. It’s the Giver, not the recipient, who gets the glory. I feel confident that God will use me in ministry despite my despondency, since it gives Him a chance to do what only He can do.

Charles Spurgeon is a prime example of a person who honored God despite debilitating weakness. His first bout with depression occurred when he was 24. “My spirits were sunken so low that I could weep like a child, yet I knew not what I wept for,” reported the eloquent British preacher. The melancholy returned repeatedly throughout his life, leading him to admit, “Causeless depression cannot be reasoned with; . . . as well fight with the mist as with this shapeless, indefinable, yet all-beclouding hopelessness.” Despite bouts with despondency, Spurgeon made a huge impact on his generation as a preacher and an author. He understood that human need magnifies the sufficiency of God. Spurgeon wrote, “We shall bring our Lord most glory if we get from Him much grace.”

Spurgeon’s remark resonates with me, because I’m a man who is receiving much grace from God. If my life glorifies Him as a result, then even my depression serves a redemptive purpose.

Though bouts of depression persist, a ray of light often penetrates the darkness. I see the light in the promises of Scripture, in the faces of supportive friends, in the purifying work of God’s Spirit, and in the realization that my plight provides a prime opportunity for God to receive glory. Thanks to these means of sustenance and perspective, Mic. 7:8 rings true in my life: “Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.”

The Basic Principles of “Healing Prayer”

SOURCE:  Adapted from Healing Life’s Hurts Through Theophostic Prayer by Edward Smith

Principle OneOur present situation is rarely the true cause of our ongoing emotional pain.

More often than not, the emotional pain we feel in the present tense has been triggered by lie-based thinking, which is rooted in memory.  Lie-based thinking is the false belief one holds in memory learned during a specific life event.  For example, a man raised by an alcoholic parent might believe the lie that he was somehow the cause for the chaos in his home and responsible to resolve it.  This might in turn play out by his being stressed, anxious and over-reactive to life situations in which there was perceived lack of order.  If we blame the present situation for the emotional pain coming from the earlier memory event, we will be trapped in an irresolvable cycle of emotional pain and defeat.  To believe that other people or circumstances are the cause of our emotional upheaval is to empower them to control us emotionally until they change.  When we find freedom from the lie-based thinking, we will no longer be triggered by it and can walk in peace, content in whatever circumstance we find ourselves (Phil. 4:11).

This is a common scenario in marital conflict.  Each partner in the relationship assumes that the pain he or she feels is being caused by the other.  When in reality, each one is merely triggering the other’s lie-based pain. It is difficult to admit that one’s mate is not the source of the pain and that he or she is only exposing what was already there.  It is easier to make someone else the cause than it is to choose to hold myself responsible for the emotional pain in my life.  This is not to say that what the other person may have done was inappropriate or justified, for it may not be.  However, our emotional response often goes much deeper than the current moment.  If what I am feeling is rooted in my own lie-based thinking and I blame another, then I am doomed to suffer in this pain until the other person changes.

Principle TwoEverything we presently know, feel or are mentally aware of has its roots in a first-time experience.

Everything in my brain got there at some point in time.  Therefore, anything that I access in the present tense from my thinking had a point of entry.  When we react negatively to a present situation, our mind is automatically transferring the negative feelings stored in the memory of the original experience to the present moment that is similar to the original experience.  This is a natural neurological process of association that is active during all thinking moments.  Our minds are continually networking and linking our present moment to the information learned in earlier places.  Our minds provide input as to how to respond to a current situation based upon how we have responded to similar situations in the past.  Actually, we respond to the present based upon what we have come to believe to be true within the past events.  This automatic superimposing of past emotional responses onto later similar situations will have great bearing on what behaviors we choose to act out.  We tend to act out the way we feel.  If we act out our present pain, we will likely manifest sinful behavior.  This is not to say that some people will deny the pain and choose to act rightly as opposed to acting out their pain. It is merely suggested that many people, much of the time, tend to act out of the pain that has surfaced.  For those who choose rightly, they just feel bad while doing the right think.  Both places feel pretty miserable.

Principle ThreeIf we try to resolve our present conflicts without resolving our historical lie-based woundedness, we will find only temporary relief for our emotional pain.  However, if we find healing for our past, we can redeem our present.

Some of today’s counseling and ministry methods typically try to change the present behavior of a person by providing new insight and steps of action to modify the behavior they are to carry out.  This is often only a stopgap measure and may not result in true and lasting victory if the underlying lies are not addressed.  This is not to say that discipleship and teaching are not important, for they are.  However, some have been led to believe that controlled behavior is equated with spiritual maturity when in fact many unbelievers are doing a good job of performing in this same arena.  True victory is a work of Christ in us.  “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20).

It is not based on my effort, determination or willpower but is a natural overflow of His work in me.  This does not negate obedience, repentance, discipline or effort on the part of the believer but rather puts all of these practices in a divine perspective.  Salvation is by faith and grace, and so is the walking it out. The apostle Paul declared that we should walk in Christ in the same manner that we have received Him (see Col. 2:6).  Self-control that is provided and maintained as a by-product or fruit of the Holy Spirit (see Gal. 5:23) is different from controlled behavior that is a fruit of man’s effort.  When I know the truth and reside in the peace that Christ gives, my “self” is under control as a work of God in me.  When I am walking in falsehood and experiencing emotional duress, I have to control myself to keep from acting out on the painful urges.  Controlled behavior is better than sinful choices, but self-control provided by the Holy Spirit is best.

Principle FourSince many of the negative emotions we currently feel are reflections of the past, they provide opportunities for the wounds of our lives to be exposed and thus for healing to occur.

It is difficult to address that which has not been identified.  God will either allow or orchestrate our surroundings to bring us under duress and testing in order to expose what is our true core belief system (see 1 Pet. 4:12-13).  It requires little effort to perform at a high level of “spirituality” when things are going well with us.  However, when the fire comes, our impurities are made evident and whatever is on the inside (our true belief system) is made evident.  These impurities, falsehoods that we believe, will express themselves through our emotional state and consequential behavior.  What we truly believe is made evident through our feelings.  As I have already stated, we will feel what we believe.  If we choose to follow the smoke trail of our stirred-up emotions back to their original memory source, we may discover the lie-based belief causing the emotional pain.  It is here we can find complete freedom from the emotional pain produced by these lies as we receive truth from the Spirit of Christ.

Principle FiveTo facilitate emotional healing, we need to identify the three basic elements in the healing process:  (1) the present emotional pain, (2) the original memory container and (3) the original lie(s) implanted in the memory container.

The present emotional pain is the feeling that surfaces in our current situation when a memory-based lie is triggered.  The original memory container is the original event in which the lie-based pain was implanted and stored.  The original lie is the belief that was implanted in the original painful memory causing the present pain.  Each of these three elements plays a part in our thinking, feeling, and behavioral responses to life.  The present emotional pain is an indicator that a lie-based belief is being exposed.  All lies have their original root in a memory source.  When the lies contained in these memory sources are identified and exposed to the light of Christ, freedom can follow.

Principle SixPeople are in emotional bondage due to two basic factors – belief and choice.  These two factors are rooted in the context of deception.

This is a very important concept.  Belief and choice are the foundation of everything about me.  Because I believe the things I do, I make choices.  These choices maintain the perpetual cycle of bondage in which I suffer.  However, freedom also involves these two primary factors.  As I come to know God’s truth (belief), I am able to make different choices.  Freedom occurs as I receive the truth from the Lord and then choose to walk in it.  The one additional element in this truth process is the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. For it is God who grants us new thoughts, leading tot he knowledge of His truth that allows us to come to our senses and escape the snare of the devil  (2 Tim. 2:25-26).

Principle SevenWhen we believe a lie, the outcome will often have much the same consequences as though it were true.

The power of a lie is such that if we believe it to be the truth, it will play itself out in our lives as though it were true.  Our belief dictates much of our present reality.  Therefore, as my thinking changes, so does my reality.  When the Spirit of Christ brings truth into my thinking, He replaces the lie with truth, and I find genuine release and peace where I once only knew pain.

It is common for a person to contain opposing beliefs at the same time.  I can believe that I am forgiven for a sin in my life (logical truth) and still feel shameful when I think about what I have done (experiential knowledge).  The belief producing the shame has the real power in my life and is also that which will produce the most consequence.  My emotional state will point you to my true belief system.  It does not matter that what I believe is false; it will have much the same outcomes as though it were true.

Principle EightTo be free of the lies we believe, we must identify and own the lies rather than suppress or deny we believe them before we can be free from them.

Our natural inclination is to deny that we believe lies and to bury the apparent pain they are producing.  If we do this, however, we will maintain a cycle of perpetual defeat in our lives.  As long as lies remain embedded in our minds, they will continue to surface as pain every time they are triggered by situations similar to their original implantation.  If I believe that I am worthless and this lie causes me to feel such, I may choose to deny this belief and perform with “confidence” and become an overachiever with notable success.  On the outside this appears to be a good thing, but the purpose of the behavior is to deny and bury what I rally hold to be true, thus keeping me in bondage.  Freedom requires that I acknowledge and take responsibility for what I believe and feel its corresponding emotional pain.  I must choose to lay down my feeble defenses and attempts to deny my pain or to project the pain onto others or onto life circumstances.  In this honest context, God is released (by my will) to free me.

Principle NineIn the midst of our “darkness,” we must come to realize how utterly bound we are to the lie and how helpless we are to overcome its debilitating grip on our lives apart from God’s divine intervention.

As we experience the emotional pain in the memories, we realize that we are helpless, we are trapped in our emotional bondage and we cannot make the pain go away.  This is the same place people in the New Testament were when Jesus healed them physically.  It is the same place Paul found himself when Jesus spoke truth into his painful circumstance when He said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.  Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me” (2 Cor. 12:9).

When we try to break free through self-effort and working hard, we will eventually fail.  We have no more ability in ourselves to overcome the sin and lies in our lives today than we did before the Cross.  Christ in us is our power to overcome, not self-effort.  Freedom is not a “you and me, God” process, but an “I am weak, but He is strong” realization.

Principle TenNo person, including ourselves, is capable of talking us out of the lies we believe.  We will be free only when we receive the truth from the One who is Truth (see John 16:12).

God is not limited in the ways he chooses to deliver His truth to us.  Inner Healing (Theophostic) Prayer Ministry is but one method He uses.  However, much of the training seminars and self-help books being written are based on the idea that if a person can be helped to see what is wrong in his or her thinking and be provided with truth, he or she can then choose to replace false thinking with the truth and change his or her life.  Cognitively receiving truth may have little or no impact on releasing a person from the lie-based emotional pain in his or her life unless it is delivered to the heart by the Holy Spirit. It is incorrect to assume that people can walk in victory by making right choices and trying hard.  Self-effort and controlled behavior can achieve moment-to-moment abstinence but not true victory. Such thinking lies at the heart of works-sanctification and is the basis for most other world religions.  The truth is, most people already logically know why they are in pain and logically hold the truth they need, yet they are still in emotional misery and still cannot find their way to freedom.  However, when the Holy Spirit is speaking to people who are listening, glorious things always happen.  Inner Healing (Theophostic) Prayer Ministry simply encourages people to listen as the Lord reveals His truth to their hearts and minds.

One of the clearest passages in the Bible that describes this process is 2 Timothy 2:24-26.  Here the Apostle Paul gives instruction on helping someone who is believing falsehood.  “A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, [if God perhaps will grant them repentance.  The original meaning of repentance being a change of thinking], so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”

Notice that we as ministers or “servants of the Lord” are called to teach and correct those who are in opposition (this is discipleship), but it is God who accomplishes the task of setting them free.  For until “God grants them repentance [change of thinking]” they cannot come to “know the truth.”  It is important to note that the word translated “repentance” here is not necessarily “turning from sin” as it is often understood but rather the changing of one’s thinking.  The Dictionary of Biblical Languages, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament and the Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon all define repentance as “change of mind which results in change of life (style).  The word “know” here means to embrace experientially as opposed to having just logical mental assent.  This is the same word that Mary, the mother of Jesus, used when she said to the angel that she had not “known” or had intercourse with any man.

We ministers have an important role in leading people to the place where they are willing to submit themselves unto God and receive from Him.  However, unless He grants them repentance or a change of thinking, they will never be free.  When God grants new thought, people come to “know the truth” and “come to their senses” and thereby “escape the snare of the devil” (the snare is the lie-based thinking).  The words translated “coming to their senses” can also be understood to mean to “sober up” or see clearly.  As the Lord grants “change of thinking” the raging swell of pain becomes a placid calm.

Principle ElevenWhen we know the truth experientially, having received truth from God in our memory experience, we can walk in genuine maintenance-free victory in these areas of our lives.

The areas of our minds that are renewed with truth will no longer be stirred up with lie-based pain.  Since our emotional pain is a primary motivator for our inappropriate behavior, we are able to walk in permanent and maintenance-free victory in these specific places where our lies and painful emotions are no longer present.  Knowing the truth experientially frees me to walk in my present righteousness so that I might experientially agree with the Apostle Paul who declared, “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; [which I tend to do when I am emotionally stirred and in pain] but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God [which is effortless when I am walking in the truth and peace of the Spirit]” (Rom. 6:12-13).  When I say maintenance-free victory I am referring to the fruits of the Holy Spirit that are produced not through my self-effort but as a natural by-product of the abiding truth of Christ and His residing peace.

Principle TwelveIn times of crisis or in emotionally charged life situations, our experiential knowledge tends to override our logical truth.

Experiential knowledge (not necessarily truth) is that which I have come to believe through experience.  This knowledge is primarily my interpretation of the experience more so that the details of the event.  For example, if I was abused as a child, my experiential knowledge may be that I believe that I am dirty and shameful.  Logical truth is that which is confirmed truth learned through cognitive processes such as personal study and biblical instruction.  The power the experiential knowledge holds over the logical truth is in the painful emotion, which is often attached to the knowledge learned in experience.  I can know logically that God loves me and has forgiven me of my sins and yet not be able to shake the bad feelings of worthlessness, rejection, self-hate or shame attached to the lie-based thinking in my experiential knowledge held in memory.  When these lies are triggered, I have no choice but to feel their pain.  Some suggest that we should just deny these feelings and walk in victory.  Although some practice this, most would confess that this approach is lacking joy and fulfillment.

It is difficult to appropriate logical biblical truth if what we have learned experientially is contrary to our logically held truth.  But as we go to the lie-based sources, discern the lie and receive the experiential truth God has for us, we can readily appropriate the logical truth of Scripture we comprehended only cognitively before.  It is easy to logically believe that we are loved and fully accepted by God when we experientially hear Him tell us “I love you” in our painful memory experiences.  This is not to say that we should not choose to obey the truth and do what is right even while in the midst of our emotional pain.  However, while obedience in the midst of lie-based pain has merit and is praiseworthy, it is better to be able to obey from the heart without having lie-based pain in our face.  This is effortless victory that comes when the knowledge of our experience lines up with what we already know logically.

Principle ThirteenLie-based pain can only be removed as the lies causing the pain are replaced with truth, whereas sin-based pain can only be dealt with through the Cross of Christ.

The only cure for sin is the Cross.  This pain is different from the pain one carries as a consequence of lie-based thinking.  Inner Healing (Theophostic) Prayer Ministry does not minimize the role sin plays in the life of a person.  If we sin, we will and should fee pain. However, it is not an either-or but a both situation.  The writer of Hebrews said that we must “lay aside every encumbrance [weighty things and lie-based pain] and [both] the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (12:1).

I am not suggesting that Inner Healing (Theophostic) Prayer Ministry is the only way to accomplish this.  But this is a systematic way of leading people to the place where God has always been.  He resides in truth and rewards those who seek Him.  This is nothing new in relation to what God has been doing within His people all along.  Inner Healing (Theophostic) Prayer Ministry is merely an avenue or process for effectively appropriating one aspect of God’s process of mind renewal and sanctification.

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