Have you ever felt like that? It seemed as if everyone was against you. Maybe everything was going wrong and you were feeling the dread of what was next.
Some of us fall into depression just thinking about, “Why?” We dwell in its place. It’s a place of worry. It’s a place of anxiety. It’s a place of fear. No one is healthy in these places. Maybe you know this place more than others.
Jehoshaphat did not dwell in the place of fear. He did have fear, but he immediately “set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. He did not go through this alone. All of Judah sought the Lord!
God answers prayer! He said, “you will not need to fight in this battle.”
This was God’s answer to their prayers: “Be still, and know that I am God;” Psalm 46:10 ~NKJV
Neither do you need to battle. Just pray!
After much prayer and fasting, the Spirit of the Lord spoke: “And he said, ‘Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. They will surely come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.’” 2 Chronicles 20:15-17 ~NKJV
Being full of heaven means to walk in the fullness of God’s blessings. Your heart cannot be full of heaven until you are emptied of hell.
Our hearts cannot be full of faith unless we are first emptied of fear, pride and sin. To receive of God’s fullness, we need to be emptied of all our self. Not I, but Christ be formed in me.
The young man was full of pride and could not empty himself for Christ. His heart was full of sorrow because he loved his wealth more than God.
But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. (Matthew 19:22)
Ananias and Sapphira’ hearts was filled with deceit and lies. Another victim(s) of loving money more than God, despite being in a time when great wonders were happening.
But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? (Acts 5:3)
Cain was full of jealousy and anger against Abel. When we are full of bitterness and anger, it shows. Evil natures cannot be suppressed when we give room for it in our hearts. It will eventually manifest.
But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell (Genesis 4:5).
When their hearts were full of sin, they ended up manifesting its effects.
What are you full of dear believer?
How can we be full of Heaven?
1. Fullness of the Father (Ephesians 3:19) 2. Be filled with the Spirit (Acts 4:8) 3. Walk in the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13) 4. Abound in the joy of the Lord (Psalms 16:11) 5. Fullness of faith (Acts 11:24)
Emptied of His glory, God became a man. To walk in earth in ridicule and shame. Jesus won the victory we needed; all we need is to stay faithful till the end. Maranatha, Praise God and Amen.
A look at today’s hot election season and the world events could have you ready to hide under the sheets until it is over. Fear of what could be the future could have you headed to the psychiatrist’s couch.
Its dark out and you’re home alone. The house is quiet other than the sound of the show you’re watching on TV. You see it and hear it at the same time: The front door is suddenly thrown against the door frame.
Your breathing speeds up, your our heart races, and your our muscles tighten.
A split second later, you know it’s the wind. No one is trying to get into your home.
For a split second, you were so afraid that you reacted as if your life were in danger, your body initiating the fight-or-flight response that is critical to any animal’s survival. But really, there was no danger at all. What happened to cause such an intense reaction? What exactly is fear? In this article, we’ll examine the psychological and physical properties of fear, find out what causes a fear response and look at some ways you can defeat it
Fear is a chain reaction in the brain that starts with a stressful stimulus and ends with the release of chemicals that cause a racing heart, fast breathing and energized muscles, among other things, also known as the fight-or-flight response. The stimulus could be a spider, a knife at your throat, an auditorium full of people waiting for you to speak or the sudden thud of your front door against the door frame.
The brain is a profoundly complex organ. More than 100 billion nerve cells comprise an intricate network of communications that is the starting point of everything we sense, think and do. Some of these communications lead to conscious thought and action, while others produce autonomic responses. The fear response is almost entirely autonomic: We don’t consciously trigger it or even know what’s going on until it has run its course.
Because cells in the brain are constantly transferring information and triggering responses, there are dozens of areas of the brain at least peripherally involved in fear.
Fear often manifests itself by the impulse to escape or run away. Various nuances of fear include dismay, anxiety, worry, shyness, fright, alarm, horror, terror, or panic-all forms of fear to one degree or another.
There are some basic causes of fear. Depending on our emotions and psychological makeup, we will react accordingly. These categories are broad, and many different situations may fit under each. A very helpful book for understanding the cause of fear is entitled, Discovering Ourselves, by Edward Strecker and John Appel, published by the Macmillan Company, New York, 1963.
What causes fear? Why do people often react differently when frightful situations arise? The answer has to do with human emotions. The better we understand our emotions, the more equipped we are to handle various circumstances that may arise. Many programs to the problem of handling fear have been suggested. Some people have been able to employ these programs successfully. Others have not. For many, these strategies seem to work temporarily, but eventually the problem of fear returns. All these programs overlook the most important thing of all-relying on God for His help. For the Christian there is a permanent solution to the problem of fear, a problem that may have to be faced many times during our lives.
There are three basic causes of fear. These are: the possibility of harm, the possibility of frustration (the failure to achieve), and the possibility of not surviving. Any of these fears may be caused by real or imagined threats.
Fear brings bondage. There is no getting around that fact. When a spirit of fear takes root in your life, you become a slave to that fear. Faith brings freedom, which is why the devil works so hard to keep Christians in fear and out of faith. If he cannot take a person to hell, he will at least try to keep that person bound up, paralyzed, and ineffective as a Christian witness. If any Christian ever gets hold of faith and the liberty faith brings, the devil knows he is in trouble!
Is there anything wrong with fear? The answer: It depends on the way one responds to fear. Fear is an integral part of man’s nature which serves as a protective device. It is a part of life. In many ways it can prevent us from suffering harm, but the reaction to fear varies greatly with individuals. Emotions were placed within the nature of man to add interest to our lives. Emotions give excitement, make life enjoyable, and produce a great deal of variety. They add zest and color. The right kind of fear enables us to handle the various problems in life and to insure our safety and mental comfort. Wrongly controlled they can be debilitating, harmful, paralyzing, and destructive. It has been said that many who have a medical condition of a mental illness suffer from uncontrolled emotions. Emotions, therefore, can either be good or bad.
IF your fear relates to what may or may not happen on November 6, 2012 then I suggest that you earnestly work to advancing your cause by actively working for your candidate and actually vote. I suggest you do the research to know your candidates past the sound bytes that are presented on the three old standby networks of ABC, CBS, and NBC. I would suggest the following link as a way of starting the discussion, you may agree or disagree with the content, however it should have you thinking about the content. http://reclaimourrepublic.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/the-movie-obamas-america-2016-a-must-see-at-this-link/ (dead link)
It has been on a constant loop: “If you see something, say something”. I don’t remember hearing there was any fine print or exceptions to that “rule”. We can see there clearly are.
With all the talk of what is essential; one item was left off the written list of the essential and non-essential items, and that is free speech.
In practice the drumbeat was “Thou Shall Not Contradict The Official Pronouncement”. No matter what your station in life, should you wander off the official script and have a different point of view, the hordes of Huns will be released to destroy you, your family, your employment or business and employees. Even if you should recant your ‘error’ of having a different point of view and grovel coast to coast, you will be destroyed, not welcomed back, and canceled. This does not fit any definition of free speech that I have seen.
Freedom of speech has become vital because, without freedom of speech, some people won’t be able to communicate effectively and even say a word when things are going wrong. Freedom of speech is essential because it can change the narrative of how people feel when they express themselves in public.
Freedom of speech is not a new concept. Freedom of speech can be found between the early 5th and 6th century. It was recognized by the Roman Republic which added freedom of speech and freedom of religion also. The fact that freedom of speech was essential at that time should tell you that freedom of speech is vital and very important even in these modern times.
Freedom of speech remain essential to us and our society, although the first amendment was instituted in 1791, the ideas of human rights that lead to freedom of speech is on paper in ancient human right documents.
The Founding Fathers of our Constitutional Republic saw Freedom of Speech as so essential to maintaining our Republic that they included it within the First Amendment.
When Freedom of Speech is fully operative:
It enables the dispersion of excellent and accurate information.
It enables media to present both sides of an issue accurately, eliminating Fake News.
People will get the impact of new ideas.
Freedom of speech is essential and ensures meaningful communication
If you can’t communicate you don’t have the liberty to express yourself freely.
Clarity of information depends on the extent to which freedom of expression of thought and freedom of speech is open in all the changes and processes taking place in society. It helps the community to stay in harmony, protects the business, and promotes foreign exchange. Free Speech gives individuals peace in running daily activities with people.
Without Free Speech we would live in a Socialist or Communist society where dissidents are punished brutally, perhaps purged to re-education or death camps. Socialists and Communists quickly silence, canceled, opposition.
Much of today’s media in cooperation of Big Tech parrots talking points of one point of view to which “Thou Shall Not Contradict”
In support I offer the following news story with a video:
Fox10 Top Rated News Anchor Resigns, “I don’t like the way the media is going
Fox10 News Anchor Kari Lake has reflected on the trend-line for U.S. media and decided she can no longer participate in an industry that has devolved to a system of narrative engineering. Ms. Lake speaks directly to the issue of manipulated news feed script and she is no longer willing to participate in this activity.
Kari Lake: “Journalism has changed a lot since I first stepped into a newsroom… I don’t like the direction it is going. …I’m sure there are other journalists out there who feel the same way.”
Let me ask you a question, and I’d like you to be honest with yourself about the answer…
What percent of the decisions you make on a daily basis are made out of fear?
If we’re honest, I think we’d all say the answer is a lot more than we’d like it to be. That’s because fear has a way of gripping us like no other emotion can. And it haunts us incessantly… prompting us to replay the worst-case scenarios over and over again in our minds.
But I love the acrostic the late Zig Ziglar gave us: F-E-A-R: False Evidence Appearing Real.
You see, fear, anxiety, and worry are results of listening to lies from the enemy. And Satan is a really good liar. But when we instead focus on God’s promises to take care of us, we begin to hear those lies for what they are, and the way we think about and handle our fears begins to change.
It’s interesting that the word worry comes from the old Anglo-Saxon word würgen, which means to “strangulate.” It paints a picture of a wolf at the throat of its prey.
Worry, anxiety, and fear will choke the life out of you. They cause you to assume a burden that God never intended for you to carry… and that burden can hinder you from accomplishing God’s work in your life.
But I love the promise found in 2 Timothy 1:7, “God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power.”
Maybe today, you’re tempted to run from something wonderful God has for you because of fear. Or perhaps you’re overwhelmed with worry about the current events of the world. Let me assure you, those feelings aren’t from God — they’re from Satan. And as a believer, you have the Holy Spirit power within you to defeat them for good!
“It was always fear in the house,” says Claudette. “Hiding in the closets, it’s just that we had a man that was very dark for me and my brothers and my mother.” The pain and fear she suffered when she was young at the hand of her stepfather still brings up strong emotions for Claudette. “He was a very strong alcoholic. My mom took the bulk of the beatings. And I would always run and hide in a closet. After all that torment and trauma, and you’re hearing your mother being beat down like a dog, and then she comes to the closet and she’s like ‘come out of here, everything is okay.’ You know, and I grew up thinking that that was okay.” She says.
The physical and mental abuse shaped her view of herself and of the world says Claudette, “My life wasn’t worth anything. And I thought the whole world was closed off from love even though I had this love in my heart for people.”
In her teens and 20s she clung to her boyfriend who convinced her they could make good money by selling drugs, Claudette remembers, “I guess because I loved him so much, I was going to accept—I accepted it. And it went from that to using and drinking. And the house turned into a party house. No sleep and it was a nightmare.” The relationship eventually ended but her addiction to drugs and alcohol continued. She now had three daughters that she dearly loved but knew she couldn’t take care of. She says, “I would cry and pray out to God and beg Him to help me, to help us, to stop this and to the point that I took my three daughters to my mother. And I told her that I couldn’t take care of them anymore.”
Years of alcoholism, abusive relationships and drug abuse left Claudette homeless and desperate. As she begged for money at a gas station a stranger offered to help. He asked her to follow him to a nearby house. She had no idea what would happen there. She says, “Something inside of me wanted out so bad. I wanted out and I had no idea what was here waiting for me.”
He took her to his Pastor’s house where they were having a small group Bible study. Dave and Treva Thompson welcomed her. Dave remembers, “We wanted to do our best to make her feel at home in our home. She was at a really low point and and just grasping for air, so to speak, and in need of what only God could do for her. And so we just did our best to put our arms around her and let her know that she’s in a safe place. She didn’t have to worry. Nobody wants anything from her.”
Treva says, “She didn’t have any money or anything to eat. She began to share with us that she struggled with addiction. And we began to share with her how much that Jesus loved her.”
“I don’t know all these people and they’re packing me up food and all this and she comes out of the room with $20 and she said ‘they said you needed something,’” Claudette remembers.
“It wasn’t long until she understood what we were trying to do for her was just what God had done for her on the cross,” says Dave.
Treva says, “She finally I think saw a love that she had not seen at any other time in her life. Not our love – she saw the love of Christ.”
They began to meet regularly. Claudette soon prayed to become a Christian and asked God to set her free from what she thought was a hopeless alcohol addiction. “I started crying and I was begging the Lord, begging him. I said, ‘Why won’t you deliver me? I’ve seen you deliver other people. Why won’t you deliver me Lord?’ and a voice said, ‘Walk in it!’ like somebody was standing over my shoulder and bent down and said ‘Walk in it!’ It was like something supernatural took over and I said, ‘I’ve been delivered all this time. I just wasn’t walking in it.’ He already delivered me,” she says.
From that moment, Claudette was completely set free from drugs and alcohol. She has been sober for over thirteen years. She says, “I am so grateful. I’m a changed person. God is great. I thought I was going to die that way. I thought that was it for me. That there was no other way out. There was no other option but to live my life like that.” She says.
“When she finally realized that the power of Christ could deliver her from this; oh the joy’s just unbelievable. Unbelievable. To see that realization in someone’s life,” says Treva.
Claudette reconciled with her daughters and says she finally found the love she always longed for in Jesus. “It was the love that I’ve been looking for all my life. It was real love, true love, God’s love. And there’s no greater love than that in this world and that’s the love that I was looking for. That’s the love that I was looking for. And I’m going to walk the life of God for the rest of my life. Yes, Amen.”
From the COVID crisis to financial burdens, and from fear and isolation to a divided nation, millions are lacking peace and rest. But I believe we can find rest if we look to the right source. As one theologian said, “Rest is desisting from exertion.”
Expending energy has a time and a very important place in our lives—we were created to work. But we were also created to rest. The problem for many is that they never stop and rest. They are always wound up, so to speak.
In a helpful article on the reasons spiritual leaders need rest (which all of us should read), author Cary Schmidt says, “Pastors and ministry leaders don’t ever really ‘clock out.’ It’s a part of the call. The needs are incessant. The only means of real survival is to pull away from the demands long enough to restore. Everyone must come up for air eventually or die.” Nowadays, most of us never “clock out.” Whether it’s running the kids back and forth seven days a week or working frantic hours, we are busier than ever because we often measure success by busyness. The busier I am, the more successful I am, so we think.
Schmidt adds, “The primary reason we struggle to rest is that our identity is tied to the things that keep us running at a breakneck pace. We have anchored our sense of self to what we do for God—therefore we can never do enough, and if we stop (even for a short time), we feel a loss of self and fear His disapproval.”
Could it be that God wants most of us to slow down? Absolutely. We are glued to screens, addicted to phones, and enslaved to sports and entertainment. We scurry around every day looking for the next thing to do, but we never find the rest we need. We go to bed exhausted and wake up exhausted. Something must change.
A SPIRITUAL RESET
What many need is a spiritual reset. Reset means to take something back to zero or to renew. Rest prevents burnout and breakdown and provides clarity and peace. Resting allows us to remove the competing voice of busyness and hear more clearly from God. I believe that the Sabbath was designed to keep Israel from working too much, and instead, focus solely on God. We would do well to follow that same model. Try turning your phone off and not going on the computer all day—take the day completely off and turn your attention to God. And just watch how quickly the stronghold of addiction tries to undermine it.
In the Hebrew language, rest means to be calm, wait patiently, lay down, and put aside. There is a clear ceasing of effort and a renewed focus on God that restores energy and enthusiasm. Schmidt made a great point here too: “A fatigued leader is discouraged, weary, and perhaps even angry or irritable. Rest restores emotional energy.” Parents, our kids need us to rest, and we need to model rest to them. Leaders, those you are leading will benefit greatly from your resting.
Isaiah reminds us that “even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for [rest in] the Lord shall renew their strength” (40:30-31). We wait for what we value. Waiting on the Lord, or resting, shows how much we value our relationship with God and hearing from Him. Like a desert that waits for the rain or a bride waiting for her groom, our longing must be for God. Prioritize times in your day to pray and build intimacy with God. It won’t happen on its own.
A PHYSICAL RESET
Most restlessness comes from two primary sources—mental and physical. What your mind dwells on will determine your level of peace and rest. A constant mental diet of negative news, mesmerizing media, and ungodly, dark entertainment will surely lead to fear and frustration. This is exactly why Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
What you read, watch, and listen to is either fostering peace or fueling fear. Take steps now to remove things that are hurting you mentally. Procrastination is the great enemy of accomplishment.
Another key aspect of peace and rest from a physical standpoint is our diet. Yes, you heard me correctly: what you consume is consuming you. Did you know that God-given food brings life to the body, and dead food depletes it? A poor diet, followed by inactivity and weight gain, forces us to run on only two or three cylinders. It hurts efficiency and productivity.
Healthy food (think fresh and whole, not something in a box) raises the levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in your brain. And guess what? This neurotransmitter is responsible for feelings of peace, wellness, and calmness. And then there are the damaging effects of sugar. Early Americans consumed nearly 10 times less sugar than we do today. Most of our bodies are in a very toxic state because we are consuming dead food and dangerous stimulants, so when we get sick, we struggle to fight it off. I believe that this is one reason why COVID was so deadly. Eating dead food hurts immunity—it doesn’t bring life to the body it brings demise.
Stimulants also play a huge role in anxiety and restlessness. If you’re gulping down coffee and stopping frequently for energy drinks, you’ll never find rest. But you may say, “I fall asleep just fine.” That’s because your body is exhausted and it crashes. Caffeine, (along with alcohol and opiates), is why you can’t get a good night’s sleep and why you can’t wake up refreshed.
Addiction often fuels angry temper tantrums and explosive outbursts, and fuels irritability and a quick temper. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders even lists caffeine-related disorders. Did you catch that? If we believe we can drink a high-powered stimulant (or take a depressant) day in and day out and not have it affect our rest and peace, we are gravely mistaken. When we feed the body what it needs, everything works better.
Depressants may provide temporary relief, but you’re robbing, plundering, and beating Peter just to pay Paul. People who are addicted never have true rest and peace. You must wean off with your physician’s help. You may go through hellish withdrawals, but rest and peace are just around the corner.
THE TRUE SOURCE OF PEACE
All of this, however, will not lead to true peace until you know the Prince of Peace and commit your life to Christ. Take this step today and repent; there is no Plan B: “Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest to your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).
Special note: Watch my sermon “How to Find Rest in Turbulent Times” or visit ShaneIdleman.com for my books on health and fitness. My book, HELP! I’m Addicted, is a good resource for those struggling with addiction. Free download links are available for all my books.
No matter what your view of COVID is, we can all agree that it is impacting all our lives. Since June I’ve been saying that when the cold, flu, and pneumonia season gets here, it’s going to get worse, but I also have a solution. I recently talked to nurses at each hospital in our area as well as in other cities, and they all said the same thing: many of the people crowding the hospitals don’t need to be there. So why are the hospitals so crowded? One word—FEAR.
Yes, the virus is real, and I am not suggesting that legitimately sick people should not seek medical assistance, but the reality is you will not find a cure for fear at the hospital. The media and most politicians are fueling fear rather than offering hope. There is zero mention of God and a lot of dire, dreadful, and grim talk. Given the nature of politics in our day, this is not surprising. But it’s also as if many Christians, some in political offices, are too embarrassed to mention the true source of hope—God. Is this perhaps because they themselves lack a vibrant relationship with Him?
What if instead of telling America that our situation is dire and hopeless and that we are all doomed, to instead say there is no hindrance too great, no battle too hard, and no power too strong for God? What if we completely turn to Him? What if we remind people often of Jeremiah 17:7, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord.” We must offset fear with hope—hope in God.
Many are scared because they don’t know God. That’s the painful truth. When you fear God, you don’t fear death. Romans 12:12 reminds us to “rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Again, we must spread hope, not fear. How are you doing in this area? If you need prayer and hope, email our church at email@example.com.
WHY AREN’T WE BUILDING IMMUNITY GOD’S WAY?
Let’s shift gears for a minute to something very important. Does the way you eat and take care of your body affect fear? Absolutely. Our diet affects key hormones such as serotonin for relaxation, dopamine for pleasure, glutamate for healthy thinking, and noradrenaline for handling stress. If we allow junk food and addictions to control our attitude and productivity, it can lead to emotional instability. Granted, there apmre those who, through no fault of their own, have a debilitating illness. I’m assuming the reader understands that I’m talking to those who can make changes.
Yes, wash your hands, distance yourself if you need to, and take commonsense precautions. But why aren’t many doctors helping people focus on healthy lifestyle changes to build emotional strength and their own immunity? Why are they silent on this? I can say with assurance that a vaccine is not the answer. I’m not against vaccines per se; I’m against what doesn’t work. If the immune system is already taxed because of poor health and bad eating habits, COVID will escalate problems, and no vaccine in the world can balance out poor lifestyle choices.
Most disease is related to dietary choices and a lack of key vitamins and minerals. You can mock it all you want, but that’s the truth. For example, one recent news story suggested that certain vitamins lower risk of severe cases of COVID-19.
I’m not suggesting that we bypass prayer, nor am I insinuating that we disregard the advice of physicians or that we don’t need medication. We must use wisdom, but I have found that God heals primarily through fixing the toxic state of the body. How can we pray, “Lord, please heal my heart disease”—or COVID—while driving to McDonald’s?
How Are You Still Standing?
People will ask, “How are you still standing in the midst of your unemployment?” or “How are you able to cope during all your health issues?” and we can answer, “Because God is with me and I know Him.” I’m still standing—as are many of you—because God is with us, and we can take great comfort in that. When you truly know God, you don’t fear death. But when you don’t know God, the fear of death surrounds you. This is exactly what we see happening across America. I address this topic and offer encouragement in my sermon, “Another in the Fire.”
I’d like to share a few key Scriptures, especially for those who do not have assurance that they truly have a relationship with God. Romans 5:8 declares, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. He died for us, took our spot, and paid the price of our sin. Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” You can take the promise in Romans 10:13 to the bank: “For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” That’s our only hope.
For those who need help in the area of health and fitness, Shane’s books are available as free downloads at WCFAV.org.
Below is a violent, firsthand account of child abuse — most particularly physical abuse.
Distressing accounts can be found for every category of abuse, whether physical, emotional, sexual, or neglect. Thousands of children are murdered worldwide before they can ever tell their harrowing stories.
The victims of child abuse prefer not to read such accounts. We have scars enough to attest to the reality of abuse.
But those who still think child abuse is an insignificant issue — a subject exaggerated by the press — should make a point of reading this account. Two things will stand out: the enormous courage of these children; and the enormous compassion of the author (“Melissa”), now an adult.
While “Melissa” did her very best to protect herself and her brothers against their father’s neglect and their mother’s rage, I cannot agree with her conclusion that abuse is simply a matter of mental illness.
Mental illness is real. Evil is, also, however, real. The distinction rests in the capacity to tell right from wrong. Mental illness involves a compromised understanding of the world and/or a compromised ability to control one’s actions.
Evil involves a deliberate choice.
“The way that the shadows played under the door, I could see that my favorite tree was gracefully dancing in the wind. The sunlight shot like a laser beam into the closet. ‘Hey, lets play shadow puppets.’ I whispered to my little brother. ‘Okay,’ he said.
This time, his lips only turned a small shade of blue. My brother faced his head towards me and I made myself look into his eyes, holding my own grief so I could contain his. I remember looking at my mother and wondering if this time was it, would she kill him? She would always stop -before she would suffocate him.
Mom had bad days. Her children were the face of every single person that day that had hurt her, that had let her down, a family member, an argument with my Dad. My brother and I never knew when our turn was going to be for mom to release her anger. I always wondered when it would begin. Would we be able to have the comfort of the closet, would we be able to see the closet this time around? That was always my hope. Mom would always begin with me. I would lay down on the sofa and she would put a pillow over my face. She would then sit on top of me and she proceeded to suffocate me. I always turned my head to the wall facing away because I knew that my little brother was there in the hallway. I never wanted him to see my face. I never wanted him to see the fear and sometimes even the hope – that maybe I would die…”
We’re still hoping we’ll wake up. We’re still hoping we’ll open a sleepy eye and think, What a horrible dream. How could this have happened?
Just a moment ago moms were packing school lunches. Just a moment ago chefs were planning the day’s menu. Just a moment ago arenas were noisy, brides were walking down the aisle, and neighbors were discussing the weather.
In just a moment, everything changed. A phantom disease invaded our peace, our plans, and our security. In a heartbeat our language and behaviors were upended. Even young children understand the term “social distancing,” “quarantine,” and “Covid-19.” Grandma isn’t allowed visitors in her nursing home. Workers are telecommuting, zooming and skyping in their baseball caps and slippers. Handshakes and hugs have been put on indefinite hold.
This strange season has introduced a level of fear we haven’t seen since 9/11. Fear of touching. Fear of exposure. Fear of what we can’t see.
We are anxious, Father. And so we come to you. We don’t ask you for help; we beg you for it. We don’t request; we implore. We know what you can do. We’ve read the accounts. We’ve pondered the stories and now we plead, “Do it again, Lord. Do it again.”
Remember Joseph? You rescued him from the pit. You can do the same for us. Do it again, Lord.
Remember the Hebrews in Egypt? You protected their children from the angel of death. We have children, too, Lord. Do it again.
And Sarah? Remember her prayers? You heard them. Joshua? Remember his fears? You inspired him. The women at the tomb? You resurrected their hope. The doubts of Thomas? You took them away. Do it again, Lord. Do it again.
You changed Daniel from a captive into a king’s counselor. You took Peter the fisherman and made him Peter an apostle. Because of you, David went from leading sheep to leading armies. Do it again, Lord, for we need counselors today, Lord. We need apostles. We need leaders. Do it again, dear Lord.
What we’re seeing on the news, you saw on that Friday so long ago. Innocence interrupted. Goodness suffering. Mothers weeping. Just as the darkness fell on your Son, we fear the darkness falling on our friends, our family, our world. Just as our world has been shaken by a phantom disease, our world was shaken the day the very child of Eternity was pierced.
You saw it. But you did not waver, O Lord. You did not waver. After your Son’s three days in a dark hole, you rolled the rock and rumbled the earth and turned the darkest Friday into the brightest Sunday. Do it again, Lord. Grant us another Easter.
We thank you, dear Father, for these hours of unity. Selfless acts of service and kindness warm our hearts. Strangers see opportunities to share with others. Our medical warriors are working together, at personal risk, to care for the rest of us. We thank you for their selfless commitment and these days of unity. And we see the world turning to you, Father. People encouraging people with scriptures and reminders of your sovereignty. We confess we have been anxious, but because of you, we have hope.
We ask, Father: let your mercy be upon all who suffer. Grant to those who lead us wisdom beyond their years and experience. Have mercy upon the souls who have been hurt by this disease. Give us grace to help each other and faith that we might believe.
And look kindly upon your church. For two thousand years you’ve used her to heal a hurting world.