Persecution of the Soul

sad woman to use

We have been protected in our country from the touch of persecution for decades.   At least the outward touch.  But I am coming to learn that there are different forms of persecution.  We have a dear brother and sister who are living the torments of a persecution that can be seen.  Saeed Abedini is imprisoned in one of the most notorious prison camps of the world, in Iran.  He is there for his faith….nothing else.   His wife has beautifully and painfully written of her/their journey over the last three plus years.  That is one example of fierce outward persecution.

We are seeing people lose their jobs for taking a stand for their faith, here in America.  Something, 30 or 40 years ago, we wouldn’t have dreamed would happen.

But there is another persecution that I believe is a sinister tool of satan.  I am convinced it haunts and oppresses us, especially Christians.   I call it persecution of the soul.   Some might call it depression.   It is unseen, yet can be deadly.  Completely misunderstood in our Christian circles, it holds a stigma for those of us who struggle with it; one we often carry for life.

Because of that stigma, we try to hide it….another tool of satan.  He does his best work in the dark, hidden corners of life.  But we are afraid to bring it out, because of the vilification of our faith by others.

Christians applaud and readily pray for those who take a stand and lose a job, but many times criticize and demonize individuals who fight battles in the depths of their inner beings, and are still able to stand,  because of Jesus.

I love what a brother, who struggles with depression and anxiety, recently wrote in his blog, “Read the Bible. It’s full of crazy people like us killing it for God.”   Unfortunately, we want to look at the victories in Scripture and not embrace the  broken people God used to fulfill those victories.

So here are some things we don’t need and others we do.  I believe I can firmly back these up with Scripture, by the way.

What We Don’t Need

We don’t need more faith.  Jesus told us that all we need is the faith of a mustard seed and we could move mountains.  Some days we do just that – just by getting out of bed, and especially by trying to be real, authentic Christians.   We have walked in the deepest of valleys and gone through the darkest of our hearts and minds, and we continue on – not just living, but using what we have learned for others.   Compassion has been honed to a perfection in us.

Because of that compassion I am able to stick with people longer.  I am able to listen and care at a deeper level.  Is it always easy?  No. Do I want to throw platitudes also?  Sometimes, but God quickly reminds me where I’ve been and I realize we are all in this journey together.

I am convinced that God uses people who have been in those valleys to reach and touch others more than He is able to use the pride of those who look down their noses at fragile Christians who struggle with emotional issues.

I put my faith into action, in spite of depression or anxiety, every time I take a breath.   Every time I return good for evil, each moment I go on living.

We don’t need scripture verses thrown at us….we have the ones that pertain to us (and our “disorder”) all memorized.  Ouch….she said she doesn’t want God’s Word!   This is a tactic satan also uses….twisting someones’ words.   Did you hear what I said?  We don’t need them thrown at us.  I am closer to God than I’ve ever been in my life; through prayer, His Word and meditation, and those long, dark nights.  Yet, I am also being more attacked than ever.  Coincidence?  I think not.  Satan knows our weaknesses and vulnerabilities and he will stop at nothing to bring us down!  And the closer we try to draw to God, the more He attacks.

We don’t need to pray more about it.  I have had people ask me if I have prayed about it.   After NOT throwing a bowl (or knife) at them, I calmly try to reassure them….THAT SEEMS TO BE ALL I GET DONE DOING!

We don’t need to be told to care about someone else.  For many of us – that’s all we do….care about others.   We burn ourselves up caring about people because we understand their pain and/or need.   I am constantly trying to look out and away from myself.  It’s such a slap in the face to have someone suggest I reach out to others, when I am continually trying to help, even sometimes while dying inside.  If you know me at all, or care to get to know me….if you look at what I’m doing, you know.  Enough said.  You know.

We don’t need rejection.  First of all…this goes so against the teachings of Jesus Christ, I can’t even fathom rejecting someone.   But also…your rejection can send us further into the depths of despair.  Is that what you want?  Why would you reject me?  I’m your sister in Christ, Who died for me.  You are commanded to love me and accept me, ask Christ loved the church.

What We DO Need

Love, mercy and compassion.  But you say, “I have to keep affirming my love, and I get tired of listening.”  And?  Your point would be? Isn’t that what we’re called to do?   Even the first characteristic which defines love in 1 Corinthians is patience.  I’m not seeing anywhere in Scripture where we’re told to care about someone one time and that should be enough.   I can’t find any place that tells us to judge if someone is deserving of that love.   I don’t see it.   I do see a God of compassion as one of His greatest attributes…and we are to strive to be more like Him!

Reassurance we are loved.  Yes, I believe I just talked about that.  But this is definitely one thing I can’t hear enough of.  I was rejected and abandoned as a child and teenager.  I know of some who are miraculously delivered from such upbringings, and even worse childhoods.  My husband, Tom, gave me the most precious words of comfort on this when he asked,  “Who is stronger…those who are miraculously delivered, or those who have to fight it every…single…day – and keep going….stronger in faith, stronger in Jesus Christ?”

We need looked out for!  Most people see us as strong, because we’re constantly posting Scripture on social media, or offering to pray, or listening, or caring.   But we need care also.  Not lectures, just care…and love.

WE NEED TO BE KNOWN!  Have you even tried to get to know me?  Do you know WHY I struggle with depression?  Do you know how much I pray about it?  Do you know what part of Scripture I’m currently studying?

And more – do you know me or do you care to know me?   What I like, don’t like, what makes me laugh, what makes me sad.  My favorite food, if I like to cook or not.  Do you know anything about my family? Have you listened to me talk for even 5 minutes?  Do you know my favorite vacation spot?  My fears, my victories?  My regrets?  My accomplishments?

So…can we please sit down over a cup of coffee, or tea, with some chocolate….and get to know one another, the way Christ would have us fellowship?   Loving one another, listening, caring, sharing His Word and praying together.

Maybe, just maybe, you’ll be the one God uses to help me face another day.