#9. What if I End Up Lost?
(Dealing with the Fear of Mental Breakdown)
Isaiah 41:10-14 KJV Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. 11 Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish. 12 Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, even them that contended with thee: they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought.13 For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. 14 Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.
This fear seems to manifest itself in three ways:
1. The Fear of Hopelessness - “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” - Dante’s inscription over the entrance to Hell
2. The Fear of Depression - The National Institute of Mental Health says the lifetime risk of developing depression is about 17% (2011).
3. The Fear of Dementia - seems to be skyrocketing as longevity increases.
I. Causes of emotional/mental issues
A. None of us are exempt.
1. Charles Spurgeon - “I have to speak today to myself; and whilst I shall be endeavoring to encourage those who are distressed and downhearted, I shall be preaching to myself also, for I need something which shall cheer my heart - Why I cannot tell, wherefore I do not know, but I have a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me; I feel as I had rather die than live; all that God hath done by me seems to be forgotten, and my spirit flags and my courage breaks down.”
2. Martin Luther - “For more than a week I was close to the gates of death and hell. I trembled in all my members. Christ was wholly lost. I was shaken by desperation and blasphemy of God.”
3. John Knox - “Lord Jesus receive my spirit and put an end to this miserable life.”
4. John Bunyan - “Sometimes I (am) assaulted with great discouragement…fearing that I should not be able to speak a word at all of edification…at which times I should have such a strange faintness and strengthlessness seize upon my body that my legs have scarce been able to carry.”
B. There are several possible causes.
1. Personality issues
2. Situational issues
3. Lack of “Life Rhythm”
4. Responsibility overload
a. Moses - Numbers 11:14-15 NIV I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. 15 If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.”
b. Elijah - 1 Kings 19:4 NIV while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”
5. Physical illnesses
6. Spiritual issues
7. Satanic attacks
II.Steps out of the deep valley
A. Be honest about your condition.
1. Seek medical help.
2. Seek Godly counsel.
3. Find a trust-worthy friend.
B. Don’t cave in to your condition.
C. Rededicate your life to God.
III.When the diagnosis is terminal
A. Do all the above.
B. Draw your family into the problem.
C. Draw your close friends in as well.
D. Look to God for healing.
E. Set appropriate parameters.
F. Do what you can do well.
G. Trust those closest to you.
H. Trust God.
Christian Life Lessons
Let Me Get Home Before Dark
By Robertson McQuilkin
It’s sundown, Lord. The shadows of my life stretch back into the dimness of the years long spent. I fear not death, for that grim foe betrays himself at last, thrusting me forever into life: life with You, unsoiled and free. But I do fear. I fear the dark specter may come too soon–or do I mean too late? I fear that before I finish I might stain Your honor, shame Your name, grieve Your loving heart.
Few, they tell me, finish well.
Lord, let me get home before dark.
Will my life show the darkness of a spirit grown mean and small, fruit shriveled on the vine, bitter to the taste of my companions, a burden to be borne by those brave few who love me still? No, Lord, let the fruit grow lush and sweet, a joy to all who taste, a Spirit-sign of God at work, stronger, fuller. Brighter at the end.
Lord, let me get home before dark.
Will it be the darkness of tattered gifts, rust-locked, half-spent, or ill-spent, a life that once was used of God now set aside? Grief for glories gone or fretting for a task God never gave? Mourning in the hollow chambers of memory, gazing on the faded banners of victories long gone? Cannot I run well until the end?
Lord, let me get home before dark.
The outer me decays–I do not fret or ask reprieve. The ebbing strength but weans me from mother earth and grows me up for heaven. I do not cling to shadows cast by mortality. I do not patch the scaffold lent to build the real, eternal me. I do not clutch about me my cocoon, vainly struggling to hold hostage a free spirit pressing to be born.
But will I reach the gate in lingering pain–body distorted, grotesque? Or will it be a mind wandering untethered among light phantasies or grim terrors?
Of Your grace, Father, I humbly ask…let me get home before dark.
The Epidemic Plaguing the Elderly
It’s a problem so big that some experts are calling it a public health concern. It impacts both a person’s emotional and physical wellbeing.
And while it can affect most anyone, this condition especially targets the elderly.
The problem I’m talking about?
Complicating the issue of loneliness is that there’s a stigma around it. Some people might think loneliness is due to a “social weakness, or an inability to stand on one’s own,” according to a recent New York Times article on the topic.
Yet for many of the older men and women in our communities, solitude isn’t exactly a choice.
People in their lifelong support network – their friends and even their spouses – might have died. Health and mobility problems might limit their ability to get out and meet new people, resulting in isolation. Some older people can become overwhelmed at recent life changes, like moving to a new town to be closer to family, or entering an assisted care facility.
People in this season of life will tell you it’s a shock to lose independence after a lifetime of autonomy.
Whatever the reason, the bottom line is many aging people are left vulnerable to the myriad of conditions researchers are finding are linked to loneliness. This includes “physical illness and functional and cognitive decline.” This decline might be influenced by the fact chronic loneliness can overstimulate the body’s stress response by increasing the levels of cortisol, which is a major stress hormone. That can “raise blood pressure, decrease blood flow to vital organs and impair the immune system’s ability to fight infection.”
How can we, as individual Christians and the Church, step in to help the elderly community deal with loneliness? Here are some thoughts pulled together with the help of Focus’ counseling team:
1.Check your motives.
It can be tempting to volunteer to visit an elderly person to check off a box in our list of things to do to be a “good Christian,” or to somehow feel better about ourselves.
Don’t be like that.
Reach out for the right reasons. Serving the elderly isn’t about us; it’s about them. It’s about loving as Jesus loves – sacrificially, unselfishly and faithfully. It’s about ministering to people for the simple reason that they’re created in the image of God and possess human dignity.
2.Be persistent in your pursuit of relationship.
Chronic loneliness can cause people to feel like they’re drowning in a sea of hopelessness – it seems like nothing will make it better. And because it takes energy to let someone in, many times lonely people will push others away.
This means that help must be substantive (who wants to let someone in who only offers simplistic solutions and empty platitudes?) and sincere. Be willing to roll up your sleeves and really minister to them. Keep at it, even if they don’t initially welcome your friendship. After all, God pursued us. He loved us while we were yet sinners.
3.Don’t be afraid to touch.
Despite touch being an essential human need – it’s one of the first ways we receive love as a baby – many elderly people go days or even weeks without a loving touch. So when you visit with someone who lives an otherwise solitary life, show appropriate affection. Put your arm around them. Hold hands. Give them a hug hello and goodbye.
4.Provide practical help.
Something as simple as changing a light bulb or refilling a water bottle shows you care and meets real needs. Ask what you can do to help.
5. Let them lead.
Don’t impose an agenda on the people you’re ministering to. Instead, get to know them. What are their interests? What do they like to talk about or do?
Many times, visiting with someone who is aging means letting them tell you stories. That can be especially true for those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
6. Cross-pollinate among church communities
Adults aren’t the only ones who can minister to the elderly. Cross-generational ministry benefits both parties: Children and younger people can bring joy to someone who is isolated while being enriched with the wisdom and experience of a previous generation. As the Church, we should encourage interaction and relationship between the young and old.
As we’ve long said here at Focus, being pro-life means honoring all human life. That’s why I encourage all of us as believers to seek out elderly men and women and offer company, friendship and practical help. What an opportunity to minister to people and show God’s love!
Jim Daly, Focus on the Family
IMMANUEL: THE PLEASURE & PAIN
In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, "Greetings favored woman! The Lord is with you!" Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. "Don't be afraid, Mary," the angel told her, "for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!" Mary asked the angel, "But how can this happen? I am a virgin." The angel replied, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What's more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. For the word of God will never fail." Mary responded, "I am the Lord's servant. May everything you have said about me come true." And then the angel left her. Luke 1:26-38
This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. "Joseph, son of David," the angel said, "do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a Son, and you are to name Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord's message through His prophet: "Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a Son, and they will call Him Immanuel, which means 'God is with us.'" When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her Son was born. Matthew 1:18-24
He took with him Mary (to Bethlehem), to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them. Luke 2:1-7
And Joseph named Him Jesus. Matthew 1:18-25
"God's method is men. The Church is looking for better methods. God is looking for better men." E.M. Bounds
THE PLEASURE and PAIN OF CHRISTMAS
1/ Joseph chose selflessness over selfishness.
2/ Joseph chose dignity over dishonor.
3/ Joseph and Mary chose purity over premature passion.
4/ Joseph and Mary chose obedience over objection.
They were obedient to the laws of the land.
They were obedient to God’s voice.
They were obedient to Scripture.
5/ Joseph and Mary chose courage over cowardice.
6/ Joseph and Mary chose faith over fear.
7/ Mary chose privately pondering over publicly proclaiming.
8/ Mary chose giving all over giving in.