Worry Wart…

By Sharon Deisinger, Board Member

Have you felt your days are filled with worry? A financial problem, someone’s circumstance, and the fate of the world consume you. Your worry can become your idol, thinking about it all the time.  Worries pop up like little whack-a-moles, wanting attention, keeping us up at night, causing us physical pain and unhappiness. We can’t do anything about most things, and it steals our joy, our time and our trust in God and His plans. If we worry, we are not believing God is in control. That’s what we all struggle with, isn’t it?

As I think about the day ahead of me, I settle on the worries, but God wants me to break free from this bondage of worry. Proverbs 3:5-6 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” In this passage I can imagine Trust is a staff I lean on as I journey uphill with the Lord. The staff will bear as much of the weight as needed. I hear Him telling me each day to give the worries over to Him. It’s a struggle I go through.

He also tells us in Psalms 112:7 “He will not fear evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” I’m not saying I have it all figured out. There are times when I lie awake at night mulling over one thing or another. My husband Mark and I get started on a topic of concern and spend way too much time bringing up things to worry about. On the other hand, I also believe we shouldn’t be oblivious to the issues in our lives. So God wants me to take them to him in prayer, so HE can do the things that He does best!

We all struggle with worry in one way or another, and it seems God knows it. Find a scripture that speaks to your heart and put it on your bathroom mirror. Spend time with Him each morning and give him your troubles, He can take it, believe me.  Because when you let go of the worry, your heart will be light knowing God is above all things, even your problems!

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Pain, Depression, and Where Jesus Is

By: Brett Carey, Worship Leader

One of the shortest passages in the entire Bible is also one of my favorites. It is a fairly well-known passage found in the Gospel of John. The single verse is simply, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35) This passage was always jokingly my favorite passage due to its length and content, but lately it has revealed an entire new reality for me.

I never understood depression until a few years ago. There wasn’t a specific day where I felt like the depression train hit me, but maybe the train was going a lot slower than I realized. Maybe it was the day that I woke up and decided that sleep was better than going to class. Maybe it was the day that I decided I must be a worthless human being. Maybe it was the day that I decided pain was enjoyable. Maybe it was the day I decided I deserved hell. Or, just maybe it was the day I realized that I was experiencing hell. My entire world was starting to crumble before me.

Growing up, there was a mindset instilled in me that pain is a bad thing, and either you are on your deathbed or everything in your life is fine. This message didn’t only come from parents, but even the church as well. “Everything is great, with Jesus!” “You can’t be sad, because God has everything taken care of!” Who would have guessed that forcing oneself to not allow pain is pain in and of itself?

Anytime I felt sad about something, I would immediately go to, “well I have all of these things so I can’t be sad.” There could be a person who has lived the same exact life as me, felt the same exact pain as me, yet was born with only one eyebrow, to which I would say, “Well he experiences real pain and I don’t, because I have both of my eyebrows, so I shouldn’t feel bad.” Experiencing depression like this creates a truly twisted kind of circulatory-thinking: “I am sad, but I have nothing to be sad about because my life is so great, so I need to experience real pain to actually be sad, but now that I’ve experienced that pain I am still sad, but I can’t be sad because my life is so great.” Goodness, that is mentally tiring.

Unfortunately a lot of Christians actually believe that they have to be happy all of the time, that pain means that you aren’t experiencing the fullness of Joy from God, and so to feel pain is a bad thing. Oh my goodness. Let that reality sink in.

On top of that, we live in a culture where people actually believe that busyness makes you a more important human being. That not having time for friends or family is a good thing. Being in the moment is a lost art.

So here I am, finally willing to admit that I am depressed. I went to see a counselor and I started ranting about how I was frustrated with our culture. I talked about how I felt that I shouldn’t feel pain. Needless to say, I was becoming angry. Until the counselor said something that took my breath away. Call it a God moment, if you will. “Jesus wept.”

Jesus was hanging out with His disciples and said to them, “Lazarus is sleeping and we need to wake him up.” So, Jesus and His men made the journey to visit Lazarus and his family. Once they arrived, Jesus was approached by one of Lazarus’ sisters. As one would expect, she started asking Jesus why He wasn’t there for Lazarus, because Jesus could have prevented this death from happening. Jesus’ spirit was broken at her sadness, and asked where they had laid Lazarus’ body so He could see it for Himself. After they showed Jesus where Lazarus had been laid, Jesus wept.

Now there is a lot that is going into that moment of Jesus weeping. Jesus entered this situation by already knowing that He would raise Lazarus from the dead. It’s like watching It’s A Wonderful Life for the second time. You aren’t as concerned for characters because you know that in the end, the Angel will always get its wings. But we also have to keep in mind that Jesus descended to earth to be an emotional human being. What this means is that in spite of knowing that Lazarus would be alive within a few minutes, Jesus allowed Himself to be in the moment and feel pain.

We spend our days busying ourselves so we don’t have to focus on the pain in our lives. I believe this often happens in church, where the ones who are most active and busy are often considered the most “God-honoring”. There were nights when I would fear sleep, because I would dream about the pain that I spent all of my time trying to not think about. Pain is scary, and Christians don’t want to admit that they have pain while receiving the Love of God. Yet, we have a God who is willing to experience pain Himself. Jesus was so in the moment that He allowed Himself to weep.

Maybe, if we allowed ourselves to be more honest and open, we could start dealing with the pain that we feel. Maybe, if we allowed ourselves to be broken people, we could allow God to fix our brokenness.

After Jesus wept for His dear friend, the people around Him said to one another, “Look how He loved him.” Jesus has such an incredible love for you that He went through the worst pain possible. It wasn’t just being on the cross, but allowing every sin to be cast upon Him, so much so that God Himself abandoned Jesus, because God and sin cannot have their presences exist together.

Once we open up about pain, we can start to allow God’s love to fill us in new ways. I cannot say that my depression is “cured.” I still have days where existence is a struggle. But, what I can say is that I have never felt more loved by God, knowing that He is right there with me in my pain.

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By: Darcy Mears, Children’s Ministry Coordinator

Church is all about the camaraderie and connection for me. I notice I spend a good amount of time finding the common friend or experience for everyone. Bringing together those around me through shared or even similar trivial history satisfies me and then I begin digging for the slice of my life that may connect even more.

I realize this may not be the typical response to social situations. I also recognize this tendency has morphed over the years as I’ve ‘grown up’. When I was young, it met my desire to belong to someone or somewhere in the family, in school and in my circle of friends. When I was a little older, it helped me find a steady and loving place in the infancy of adulthood. When I was blessed with healthy and beautiful children, it appeased my need for knowledge and affirmation from moms before me, moms I knew and moms I only read about.

These days as I nurture my faith with prayer and study, I realize the families at enCompass encourage me in a fresh new way. The commonalities we share are clearly evident and concrete.  We are all undeniably afforded God’s grace, we are connected to His family, and we receive the ultimate gift of life along with others who share our beliefs. It happens to be a delightful starting place for the question ‘How do we all belong?”

Regardless of age, maturity or amount of time spent worshipping at enCompass, I pray for all of us to find a deeper connection to God and to each other. I sincerely hope the journey to discover the ways we truly belong will bring joy to our hearts and enduring faith into our lives. All God's People