How To Tip the Scale of Depression

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The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble. – Proverbs 4:19 ESV

The recent spate of suicides by celebrities rendered me pensive that the world is getting darker, and darker… Many must had been in great emotional and mental turmoil that they could not overcome the lurking darkness that had gnawed relentlessly at their soul perpetually. How great must be that darkness! Indeed, even the bible warns that anxiety weighs down the heart (Proverbs 12:25) and hope deferred makes the heart sick (Proverbs 13:12). 

It is not unknown that the bible even recorded godly men have their fallen times and overtaken by darkness, one example can be found in Genesis 15:12, which reads, “Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him.”

I can empathise to a certain extent since I once wrestled with the onset of mild depression. Given a pessimistic nature as a result of an unhealthy upbringing during childhood, I could anticipate gloom and doom whenever my soul was down-casted. 

“But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! – Matthew 6:23

With no one at home to turn to nor able to share my struggles with whenever I needed help, I found it hard to trust people around me as I was taught that no one in the world was trustworthy. I was a loner, growing up with a belief system that if-no-one-can-help-me-only-I-can-help-myself. It was a sheer misery growing up that life in itself was meaningless. I painfully questioned my existence as I was lost in my own darkness and not knowing where I was heading… I could not recount the number of times I did contemplate (in my mind) to just end my miserable life, and that indelibly etched encounter with a speeding car which stopped on time at inches away from me, did jolt me up. It took me decades to surrender myself – I just need someone, whoever and whatever it was, to save me out of crises on all fronts- I was at the end of my tether then.

Thanks be to God, He drew me out of my deep water.

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, – Colossians 1:13

Can you imagine that I used to be a super anti-Chirst, who cursed the God who gave me a rotten life (at that time). Such was a cynical and critical soul I was that I blatantly refuted the bible indisputably. Yet lo and behold, just because I took the first step in surrendering myself, on my humble knees desperately crying that I needed help. And miracles happened- my life was never the same since. I must say my conversion was very dramatic.

I had to expose the deeds of darkness so that I would not be held captive by them:

(a) Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; – Ephesians 5:11 NASB

(b) But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. – Ephesians 5:13 NASB

And because I had exposed them, I let Jesus into my life:

(a) The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. – John 1:5 NASB

(b) When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12

(c) This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. – 1 John 1:5

It is definitely no easy feat to come to the end of oneself to the point of total surrender. We can all be deceived or misled into thinking we are doing alright. The bible warns in 1 Corinthians 10:12 NLT, “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.”Luke 11:35 also reads, “Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness.”

Fears can also keep us from moving forward:

(a) Everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come into the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. – John 3:20

(b) And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? – Matthew 16:26 NLT

(c) For even though they knew God, they did not honour Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. – Romans 1:21 NASB

The critical step is to first acknowledge we have a problem and need help, and want to be helped. God will then take care of the rest if we are willing. Let God has the driver’s seat, He is far much better in steering our course and in control than us. Here I am, very thankful to God that I did not lose any ounce of my sanity. All I did was to stop being stiff-necked to wallow in my own self-pities parties any longer. There is no way I can stop wrestling with darkness until I let a glimmer of light in. 

P.S. In addition, I actually could not find answers to the vicissitudes of life in other religion at that time until I picked up the bible where I found Hope, Love, assurance, comfort, strength, wisdom and direction. Thereupon, it lays the foundation of living in Freedom, Truth and Light.

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Why Waiting Is So So Hard……

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“God does everything just right and on time, but people can never completely understand what He is doing” – Ecclesiastes 3:11 NCV

Living in today’s fast-paced world where everything is a quick-fix, quick-gain, quick-grab, quick-bite, quick-sale, quick-fly, quick-quit and quick-confirm (a Singlish terminology), little wonder that people are a lot more impatient now than ever. Nobody likes to wait — except Singaporeans’ unflinching penchant for good food that long-long queue means die-die-must-try (speaking in Singlish again) — as waiting always challenge one’s patience, and is always the hardest and perhaps painful, especially when we are in a hurry.

And it hurts to know that God has never been in a hurry- He is never too early nor too late – His Timing is always perfect. But we are the problem – how do we hear His answer, nor know His Timing? 

Wait, wait and wait… Delay after delay… And yet God is still silent. We all have such seasons in our lifetime. But God has His reasons that we are not able to grasp His infinite incomprehensibleness.  

So when we are in a hurry, we are susceptible to commit the fallacy in taking matters into our own hands, thinking that God will still bless us if we think our decision is right. Little are we aware that impatience really means it is a lack of trust. When we are impatient, we are implying that we do not trust God enough to wait any longer, because time is running short and we reinforced our decision, thinking that God does not care enough to answer on time in our best interest, or perhaps, we think that God’s way is not the best. And here’s another pinch to our already bruised soul- God never reveal His Timetable nor His plans for us, ahead.

Sounds familiar? 

I had been there, and it took me donkey’s years to really learnt that trusting God’s timing is always a maturing of character and testing of faith, that I need to discern between hearing God says, “No.” and “Not yet.”. And delays are not necessarily His denial. (And yes, I often wish God can simply say, “Yes!” and make my life easier, but I guess I would not have learnt what it means to differentiate discernibly His Will in so doing.)

From time to time, I often have to remind myself how God had prepared Moses for 80 years, including 40 in the wilderness from a somebody (he was born a Prince) to a nobody (he became a refugee from murder) then to be somebody He had intended Moses for (leading the Isrealites to the Promised Land). I am sure, like Moses, we all have wondering and wandering times, struggling with “What is next, God?”, “When, God?”, “Is it time yet, God”, “What is this, God?”, “Are you there, God?”…… And God’s “Not Yet” took Moses 80 years in waiting… Woah, it is a-gulping-long-time…

God can do any thing any time, time is never a factor to Him. But He is far more concerned in our Character than our comfort; that we act in Faith than respond in fear; and that we preserver in Trust than we panic and tumble. Common to the adage that great souls are birthed through seasons of pain and suffering, our learning path will be shorter so long as we do not short-circuit our process of God’s refinements. Just as James advised, “Don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed” (James 1:4 MSG).

Just remember where we are standing now- how far we have come, we are not yet where we want to be, but at least we are not where we used to be. 

Here’s God’s golden rules:

Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act – Psalm 37:7 NLT

Also it is not good for a person to be without knowledge, And he who hurries his footsteps errs.- Proverbs 19:2

Last but not least, LEARN to be patient and WAIT in trust for God’s Best in His perfect Timing.

God Exists Beyond History

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… He gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began… – 2 Timothy 1:9

My strongest tertiary education subject was history. I ever did come across these two abbreviations ,”B.C.” and “A.D.” that I really wondered why history marked events ‘Before Christ’ and ‘After Death’. I was not a Christian then to totally grasp an understanding about such a dating system in history- why not other gods to be mentioned? 

Google search revealed that “A.D.” actually stands for the Latin phrase anno domini, which means “in the year of our Lord.” “B.C.” was “Before Christ,” and since His birth, we have been living “in the year of our Lord”.

It is interesting to observe that historians around the world recorded the events of ‘B.C.” and “A.D.” in the life and times of Jesus Christ, which was clear that the birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ are the “turning points” in the world history, and befitting to state that Jesus Christ is the separation of the “old” and “new” eras.

Isn’t it an irony that there are so many in the world who do not believe in God nor acknowledge His existence when these abbreviations actually evidenced His Presence. Although “B.C.” and “A.D” are not referenced in the bible, there are truths which can be gleaned from it which found in Genesis 1:1, which reads: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. That means, time itself is actually a created entity, and God is the Creator. And cross-referenced to Psalm 90:1-2, which reads, “Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”

And more……

For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world… – 1 Peter 1:20A

Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. – Isaiah 43:10B

Behold, God is exalted, and we do not know Him; The number of His years is unsearchable. – Job 36:26

Truly, clearly, God is real? Isn’t this truth strong enough to refute any tongues that disclaim His existence? Blessed are those who have not seen God yet believe in Him (John 20:29).

P.S. The bible recorded so many miracles Jesus had performed in His Time, and the media has reported God is still working in the world today, which I need not have to add anything further hereto.

Supernatural Outcome Comes From A Supernatural God

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Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said, “And we are coming with you.” So they went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing. As morning was breaking, Jesus [came and] stood on the beach; however, the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. So Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish [to eat along with your bread]?” They answered, “No.” And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat (starboard) and you will find some.” So they cast [the net], and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great catch of fish. Then that disciple (John) whom Jesus loved (esteemed) said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” – John 21:3-7 AMP

Our human nature have the tendency to confine God in the boundary of our finite thinking and understanding, that we believe only what we have experienced or witnessed in the physical realm. As a result of this limitation, we have shortchanged ourselves in believing what God can really do what we can’t do. But God is so much bigger, so much powerful and so much incomprehensible, the Mystery of all mysteries, and as a supreme knowable Unknown, miracles do not happen by what we can see or think imaginable.

As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. – Ecclesiastes 11:5

We will always be awestruck with wonders what God is going to do or can do, for no one can fathom His Ways- Supernatural outcomes come from the hands of a supernatural God. If we can do what we can do, it doesn’t require faith because it is natural; faith however is super-natural that is required when something is beyond us that we can’t do ourselves and that is why we need God in this equation. And a super-natural faith must come super-naturally, which come only by hearing the living Word of a supernatural God.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. – Romans 10:17

(Do you wonder by now why I add a hyphen between ’super’ and ‘natural’? Because we need to “supplement” something to the “natural” in order to have “supernatural” result. And that “supplement” requires us to input by “hearing” and “believing”… Read on below.)

There is no other way nor a shortcut In moments when we find ourselves in doubts, or weakened spiritually, chances are we are not in tune with the Word of God, which means we have been missing spending time feeding on His spiritual manna. The tragedy is, prolonged exposure in the world will cause us to live in the flesh, dull our spiritual senses, dim our understanding about God and quench our passion for the things that matter to Him.

And the tall order is, having faith alone is not enough. We need to also supplement it with believing God. It is only when the two are combined that God’s power is released and manifested in the physical realm.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. – Hebrews 11:6 ESV

Therefore, pray for God to open our supernatural eyes to see beyond the physical and believe God for a supernatural outcome as a result of a super-natural faith. In God’s Timing, we can then exclaimed like John did, “It is the Lord (who did such a miracle)!”

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, – Ephesians 3:20

“I Tell You The Truth…”

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I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.3 John 1:4 

Did it ever occur to you that some of Jesus’ words were affixed with “I tell you the truth…”? Nearly seventy times found in the Bible that Jesus is quoted as having said that famous liner. This revealed not only was Jesus concerned with the truth and to express what He had to say was the truth as it is, but to reinforce the importance of that truth in order to remind us to pay attention to it. 

We may all claim that “Of course, I know…”, but if we honestly examine our attitudes and actions, we had have to confess that we do not always measure up nor really act like we do. Sometimes the voices in the world can delude us into believing certain truths what our sinful nature likes and be deceived into endorsing them. We ended up feigning ignorance or take the truth with a pinch of salt and even dismiss it readily citing excuses on the weakness of human nature.

It is evident that nobody likes hard truth, much less to hear the truth being slapped to our face. Surely none of us like to be forced to accept certain truth as the Only Truth. But it remains a fact that as Children of Light, if we claim that we experience a shared life with Jesus and continue to stumble around in the dark, we are obviously lying through our teeth— we’re not living what we claim. (1 John 1:7A MSG)

The entire Bible is the Ultimate Truth, whether we like it or not. And that is the hard truth.

Here’s some of the stark truths that we may not like to hear but will stop us in our track to reflect over our walk with God:

  1. Is there a difference in our spiritual life now compared to where we were a spiritual baby? Do we experience true transformation since our first conversion? (Cross reference to Ephesians 4:20-24)

2. Judgement Day will bring to light our work and its quality will be tested with fire to reveal if it can withstand the heat. (Cross reference to 1 Corinthians 3:13). Do we have any thing to present to God when we come before Him one day? Will we be proven faithful to the things He entrusted us with or call us to do?

3. Not everyone who calls the Lord “Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of God gets to heaven (Cross reference to Matthew 7:21-23). Will God really know us when He separates His Sheeps and goats on the Final Day?

4. All our deeds, big and small, whether spoken or unspoken, done or devising, blatant and hidden, will be recorded in the books, and we will be judged accordingly. (Cross reference to Revelation 20:12). How would we stand before God?

5. We all find it nauseating to have distasteful lukewarm food, and in the same figure of speech found in Revelation 3:15-16 which used to express disgust that God had for those who are lukewarm, in other words, lacked spiritual zeal. Would we still continue to be complacent as bench-warmer with a folding-arm mentality in our walk with God?

6. Do we come to God only when in need and treat Him like some cosmic vending machine expecting Him to bless us when we have not been spending time with Him, choose to go to Abba’s House only as and when we like, we neglect our spiritual growth, we complain about the chores of carrying out God’s work, choose to be disobedient to His commandments etc.? (Cross reference to Deuteronomy 28)

The truth is this: We can be­lieve in God and sin, but we cannot walk in sin and enjoy God’s Presence at the same time. 1 John 3:9 (NLT) says, “Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God.” In addition, Romans 6:2 (NLT) says, “Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? In other words, we should not want to sin. And the closer we are to God, the more conscious we are of sin, and the less we will do it. Habakkuk 1:13 says, “God’s eyes are too pure to look on evil; he cannot toler­ate sin.” So if we walk with God, our eyes will be purified too to look on evil, and we will come to hate sin like God does, as the one who called us is holy, so we too should be holy in all we do (1 Peter 1:15).

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free. – John 8:32

Image courtesy from Richard Chan

A Victim into Victor: When You Can’t Trace God’s Hands, Trust His Heart

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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 5:10

Not so long ago, there was a continuous spate of events about the breakdown of our local train made me realised that humans grumbled a lot when they encountered the inconveniences of disruptions. Regarded in the same light, we are also quick and inclined to throw a fist at God for the one thing that caused us great disappointment or anger, yet we failed to count the times God has blessed us with so much more. Just one setback can discount everything else.

When things aren’t going in our favour, we are susceptible to strike a protest or stage a long-drawn  rebellion. And before long, we spiralled down to a spiritual “black-hole”. The truth of the matter is, there is always a cause and effect in everything – it all start with an incidence that provoke a thought to engender a decision which in turn evoke our emotion and lead us to an action. Don’t belittle even the little thing because it is often the little foxes that spoilt the vineyards (Song of Solomon 2:15). A small spark is capable to set an entire forest on fire. (James 3:5B)

I once was on a rampage why life was so unfair to me. I felt coerced having to accept my “ill fate” that I did not deserve. Broken dreams broke my heart, so much that I came to hate this God who claimed He was good and everything was in His control. I had been cussing vehemently, “What a joke! There is NO God.” I was so broken that God actually came in person- In a deliverance session of dealing with my deepest pain, I saw myself as a three year old lost, enshrouded in darkness and wailing away. At that instance, Jesus came smiling, held my hand to comfort me and led me out of that darkness. As the back view of the two silhouettes dimmed away, I found my heart touched in a very supernatural way in showing me how much I was loved that He came to lead me out of that black-hole. That was my personal encounter with a living God that I could not deny His existence. That was how God got my little fox- it was the aching void of rejection in the need to be loved.

We all had our past, our former way of life with old mindsets and belief systems. And life in the fallen nature has us on roller-coaster from time to time. Although we may have accepted Jesus into our lives which already marked a new beginning, but some of us are still living with foxes that are nestling in deep burrows. The quality of our lives now reveal traces of what had been once-upon-a-time.

Hollow out the little sly fox(es). Jesus is very near to the broken-hearted. When we can’t trace HIs Hands in whatever situation we are in, we can trust His Heart no matter how you feel. A victim by exigencies can become a Victor by overcoming.

P.S. Today is Good Friday, let’s look at the Cross, again, the horizontal beam demonstrates how wide is His Love and the vertical beam shows how deep is His Grace. And when the two beams intersect in the middle, God affirms that nothing can separate us from the Love of God, no matter how far and how deep we have wandered. Because of His Greatest Sacrifice sending Jesus nailed on the Cross, there is no redemption beyond the impossible. Jesus bore our transgressions, carried the cross for our shame and sting by painful rejection from His own Father, yet He was willing to lay down His Life for our sake, so that we can live. Shouldn’t that give you reasons enough to hand to Him what you can’t handle? Shouldn’t that teach us not to take His Grace for granted?

Trials into Triumphs: Fear to Faith

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My life is in your hands. Save me from enemies who hunt me down. – Psalm 31:15 CEV

I ever wondered why some of us do struggle with trusting our Heavenly Father with our lives when we can entrust our own mortality to pilots who take us across bottomless oceans and precipitous mountains. Those who love to travel have this unspoken assurance and faith that the planes they are in will arrive at their destinations safely. Such is an absolute trust in finite pilots behind the wheels, but yet we fall short in trusting God altogether who is infinite and in control of the entire universe.

I am one such traveller who is apprehensive about taking flight. I really do not like the idea of floating in mid-air for hours, I felt as if my heart may pop out of my mouth any time, hence, I never get to enjoy the flight with ease. However, I do love the destination. Regrettably, in order to get to the destination, we need to embark on the journey whether we like it or not, and the road ahead is often paved with uncertainties of what is yet to come.

And truth be told, life is never perfect nor free from trials and testings. Many a times we made zig-zag turns or even u-turns in life that mess up our lives. As a result, we unwittingly enter into the wilderness or even the Valley of Baka (weeping). During those times of testings, it is human nature for believers to struggle even in our faith. Trials can incapacitate us with fears physically, spiritually, emotionally, financially, relationally and mentally.

Yet the place of our greatest triumph is usually birthed from our greatest pain- God will use our greatest failure or deepest sorrow as a catalyst for a glorifying end in our lives and the lives of others. Our valley or pit becomes revived springs for ourselves and others, where we will go from strength to strength (Psalm 84:6). Only through ‘death’ can new springs come forth and a new strength emerges.

Recall Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane, pleading at the feet of the only One who can sustain him. How deep was His anguish that He even shed tears in blood. Even to death, Jesus submitted to His Father’s Will obediently (Hebrews 5:8). Ultimately, He overcame His testing, triumphed over His enemies and emerged victoriously.

It takes fear to confront Faith;

It takes Faith to conquer Fear.

Faith and fear cannot co-exist in the same plane.

Only through partnering God, can we be overcomer like Jesus did. (John 16:33) Take heart that in all things God works for good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28)