Why Jesus is More Than the Light at the End of the Tunnel

Life is hard.

I don’t have to tell you twice. You might feel the weight of that sentence every single day. You’ve likely felt the pain of a breakup, job loss, move, loss of a loved one, abuse, difficult friendship, betrayal, financial insecurity, injury or sickness, or difficult transition.

You’ve likely felt lonely, depressed, frustrated, angry, irritated, worried, and scared at some point in your life. Perhaps you feel those things every single day, and maybe you can’t recall the last time you were truly happy.

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Why Suicide is NEVER the Answer

Each year 44,965 Americans die by suicide. (source)

So often these days we see people losing hope and making the terrible choice to take their own lives. Life is no longer valued like the gift it is. Suicide is portrayed as a GOOD thing and as an “escape” from life’s troubles. In the media, suicide is shown as something that is a good solution to depression and that has good results. This breaks my heart.

I don’t know if you have ever been affected by suicide – whether you’ve had a loved one commit suicide, or have thought about it yourself – but I want you to know something: suicide is NEVER the answer, and here are a few reasons why.

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Encouragement for Those Who Struggle with Depression

Depression. It turns even the happiest person into someone clouded over by darkness. It breaks my heart to think of all the precious people being deceived by depression today. So many people think that life is not worth living anymore because of this lie that has invaded their brains.
I personally have never been affected by severe anxiety or depression. However, I have had some anxiety, and it’s definitely not fun.
One thing I’ve noticed is how anxiety is always a false feeling. It comes in as a small thought or thoughts that then grow and become something I’m anxious about. None of it is even true, but it seems like something worth worrying about.
Depression can also be this way. It can start out as a small thought, such as “I’m not very pretty” and turn into “Nobody would ever love me, I might as well not be alive.” Obviously, it can come from worse thoughts, but that is just a simple example.
Depression can come from having a broken family, bullying, or just doubtful thoughts that have grown in your mind. Whatever it comes from, it’s always the same thing: a lie from the enemy. Here are some lies that depression feeds us.
Friend, I don’t know if you’ve ever faced depression or anxiety, but I’m writing this post today to tell you that these things are both lies from the enemy, the father of lies. DEPRESSION IS NOT FROM GOD. You weren’t meant to live held down by this- our God is a God who delivers and sets free! He has made you for more than this depression. He set you free and you are free indeed!
If you have depression, or even anxiety, AT ANY LEVEL, here are a few things to remember:

  • Talking it out is necessary and so beneficial

We were not meant to live this life alone, facing mountains by ourselves. Please, go and talk to someone about the things you are feeling – a trusted adult, especially a parent if that’s possible for you. This will help you SO MUCH to get the things you’re facing off your chest and talk through them.
I know it’s hard to go talk to someone about it, but believe me, it’s worth it. It will not be easy, but it will help. This is a huge step in getting better. You might not want to share this, and you might not want help, but we all need help sometimes and that is perfectly alright. Talking through your thoughts regularly with a parent or Godly counselor is so beneficial and needed.

  • Spend time in prayer and read the Word

Turning to Jesus whenever we are anxious or depressedd is SO FREEING. Friend, please go to the Father and lay your burdens upon His shoulders. HE KNOWS. HE CARES. & HE IS WAITING FOR YOU TO RUN INTO HIS ARMS AND FIND REST.
Share your troubles with Him and lay them all down. Ask Him for the grace to overcome what you face and to see the beauty in life. Find some verses on joy and hope and study them, meditate on them, focus on them. Put Truth into your mind and let it melt all the lies away. You might be facing a mountain, BUT YOU DONT FACE IT ALONE. Going to God daily and laying burdens down, and putting Truth in your mind, helps immensely.
Psalm 3:3-4 says: But you, Yahweh, are a shield around me, my glory, and the one who lifts up my head. I cry to Yahweh with my voice, and he answers me out of his holy hill.
Selah.
I’m here to tell you there IS a way to overcome depression. There IS a Light in that tunnel that you are in right now. Joy isn’t coming, IT IS HERE. Jesus came to this earth as part God, part human, and therefore, experienced much hardship. Come to Him.

  • Choose joy in the JOURNEY

God is your deliverer, but deliverance is definitely a process. Thoughts of anxiety and depression may still creep in from time to time, but what’s amazing is that the Father is with you in those times as well as every other moment. He is in the journey, going with you and strengthening you for all the mountains you face.
As you are in the valley and climbing up a mountain, you are gaining strength for the next mountain you face. Your test will soon become a beautiful testimony you can share with others. Choose joy in the beautiful journey He is orchestrating for you. Breathe in the beauty of each day, and enjoy the ride. He is with you, helping you and equipping you. Though it might feel long, keep trusting in Yahweh (God) and standing on Truth.
I am praying you find a way out of depression and anxiety. There is a Light. You do not have to live in this. Jesus is a fountain of abundant joy. Run to Him, friend.
To end this post, here is an amazing passage to meditate on when you feel depressed or anxious:
Psalm 40:1-5 // I waited patiently for Yahweh. He turned to me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay. He set my feet on a rock, and gave me a firm place to stand. He has put a new song in my mouth, even praise to our God. Many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in Yahweh. Blessed is the man who makes Yahweh his trust, and doesn’t respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies. Many, Yahweh, my God, are the wonderful works which you have done, and your thoughts which are toward us.
They can’t be declared back to you. If I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.

Other posts on depression/anxiety/finding hope in the Lord:

Dealing with Doubt

5 Ways to Overcome Fear, Doubt & Worry

3 Things to Remember When Someone Hurts You

Trusting God in All Times
// A post on suicide coming soon.
If you know someone with depression or anxiety, please share this post and/or some encouragement with them. Spread light, spread love.

How God Changed My Life Through One Person’s Obedience

I’ve been a Christian my entire life. When I was a baby, I was dedicated at my family’s church. Then, just a few years later, when I was old enough, I said the prayer and accepted Jesus into my heart.

I wasn’t quite a “church kid” who just went to church and lived like the world the rest of the week, yet I wasn’t a set-apart and dedicated servant of the Father either. I went to church with my family every week, and would read a devotional almost every day, most of the time at least. I knew who God was, and was more conservative than most, yet was lacking in discipline and devotion to Jesus, and a fervent love for the Father, a passion for His Name.

One day in 2015 I went to a girls’ Bible study. Honestly, I mainly went because my best friend was going who I hadn’t been able to see for a couple years. I did not think I had much time in my schedule for this, but when I heard she was going, I reconsidered and decided to go. However, I had no idea how this would change my life – in so many beautiful ways.

We took “chunks” of Scripture, as we liked to call them, and would take notes on them, discussing them in depth, and truly applying them to our lives. I actually felt challenged to go deeper in my walk with God. I was immediately challenged by the questions the girl who lead the Bible study asked – what was God teaching us? What were we studying in the Word? Our times of study were deep, refreshing, and new to me.

Towards the end of that year, the leader gave me a book on prayer. I had been praying a little before I went to sleep each night, but hadn’t really ever developed a consistent prayer time. I was spending my devotion time at night, before bed, and it was not very consistent. This book really encouraged me to start writing down prayer requests – for myself and others – and making time to pray each morning. I started to spend time with the Father in the morning and develop a relationship with Him.

I gained some sweet friends in this group as well, who I was able to study God’s Word with. It’s honestly really funny yet astounding to look at where I am now, and think back to that Bible study. Most of the friends I have and things I do have come from that, and I’m not kidding. Here are a few examples.

The reason I started this blog was because of two things: one was a blog assignment in a writing class I was in, that interested me in blogging. The second was because I wrote a couple articles for my friend’s (who lead the Bible study) encouraging email newsletter she sent to girls. That is one of the things that pushed me to start this blog.

My friend also introduced me to Girl Defined Ministries, which has encouraged me and also connected me to a friend I now have which is so amazing!

I got to go to an AMAAAZZIINNGG Set Apart Girl retreat/conference in the summer of 2016 that one of the Bible study girls ran, and I met some super sweet girls there as well! I learned so much about surrender and true radiance and it was such an amazing weekend I won’t forget.

I have made some lasting friendships with some sweet girls, I have learned so much about God and His Word, and most importantly, I have begun to have a real relationship with the One who loves my heart.

It’s so amazing to look back over these past 2 + 1/2 years since I met these girls, and see how I’ve changed. In fact, all the girls who have been in the study will tell you the same thing – it’s changed them.

And then I think, what if my friend who lead the Bible study, hadn’t listened to God’s calling on her life?

What if she hadn’t had that Bible study?

It’s really a crazy thought for me.

If she hadn’t stepped out to obey the Lord, the other girls and I probably would have never met. I might have never started this blog. I might have not developed a true and lasting relationship with God.

Friend, I want to encourage you today to live faithfully and walk in obedience to the Father. He is calling you to walk as Jesus walked, and lay down your life for His purposes. He wants to have a deep relationship with you, to love you and for you to love Him in a deep union. He wants to take you out of the darkness into the light. He wants to take you out of being lukewarm and take you into a passionate state where you are on fire for His Name. HE WANTS YOU.

There’s a big difference between being full of the Spirit and walking with God. When you walk with Yahweh (God) and seek Him daily, you will start to walk in tune with Him and His will for you. You will be guided and will know where to go because you are walking in His will. You will learn to walk in obedience, and even when it’s hard to step out, you will know the strength you have in Him.

Don’t neglect reaching out to others – the grocery store man, the lady that cuts your hair, anyone and everyone you see each day. Don’t neglect obeying the Father as He leads. Seek the Lord and strive to live in faithful obedience each day. It can have a huge impact in ways you never imagined.

// Replacing Temporal Happiness with Lasting Joy //

Happiness and joy. Is there really a difference between the happiness this world offers, and the joy found in Jesus? There is – a huge difference. I want to explore in this post the difference between the two and why the happiness of this world is merely a counterfeit of the joy Yahweh offers.

Happiness. We’re told that we’ll have it…if – if we buy the newest iPhone, lose 50 pounds, try this new diet, like certain things, watch certain movies, take some time for ourselves for “me time” and focus on ourselves above others…the list could go on for all eternity. Each day it seems that the world tells us that something else will make us happy. It’s sad and it is dangerous to put our joy in things of this world.

The problems lies in this: the world is constantly changing. Therefore, things such as social media, movies, television, music, and even friends and family, only bring a counterfeit, temporal joy. When it comes to the end of the day, those things never really made us happy – they only made us feel a little bit of what we thought was pure joy. They only made us happy and gratified us in the moment, but when that moment ended, we were left empty again. When it comes down to it, things of this world will never satisfy you.

Joy. The Word of God tells us that in His presence is fullness of joy, and that the joy of the Lord is our strength. Is this true? I believe that without a doubt, it is.

If we seek the Lord, we find a joy that is lasting. It doesn’t just come upon us in our devotional time and leave us for the rest of the day, but when we truly place our hope and our ultimate joy in Jesus alone, that joy lasts. It strengthens us. It brings a smile to our face, a skip to our step, a hope to our heart, and, my friends, it is like none other. It brings us a lasting satisfaction, a hope that lasts and that is un-explainable, because it comes from an unseen source -Yahweh our Father. We can know that God’s Word is true, because God never breaks His promises.

Psalm 89:34 // I will not break my covenant, nor alter what my lips have uttered.

Numbers 23:19 // God is not a man, that he should lie, nor the son of man, that he should repent. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not make it good?

All that God has said is true, and we can trust that His joy is real, because it’s talked about multiple times in His Word. Here are a few of my favorite passages on joy, comfort, and abundance from the Lord.

Nehemiah 8:10 // Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared; for today is holy to our Lord. Don’t be grieved; for the joy of Yahweh is your strength.”

Psalm 16:11 // You will show me the path of life. In your presence is fullness of joy. In your right hand there are pleasures forever more.

Psalm 23:5 // You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup runs over.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 // Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Joy is a mindset, and a choice. If we are continually focused on what we wish we could have, then we will never be joyful. If we focus on the storm, we will doubt His love. If we focus on this world and wish we could have what “they” have, then we will always feel discontent and empty. If we look at what’s going on in the natural, we will think it’ll never get better. HOWEVER, if we choose to focus on the blessings our Father has given us, His amazing promises and instructions in His Word, and just the goodness of a God who loves us so much more than we know, we WILL be happy. Because, it’s not really about what we look like to this world, or if we have everything it offers, or even the weight of the struggles that we go through- all that matters is God’s love. Joy isn’t something that can ever come from things – although God does often bless His children with some amazing things as we follow Him! Joy is knowing Jesus, and using our lives to share His goodness. Joy is denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and walking as Jesus walked. It’s quite the opposite of what the world describes to be “happiness.” Because as hard as they try, they can never create a happiness like God brings. Only God can overflow our cups with love.

I want to encourage you as you read this post, to not take what I shared today and forget about it. Whatever you’re facing today – whether it be comparison, discontentment, or just a rough season of life – choose to place your joy in Yeshua Jesus today. As James 1:2-3 says, count it ALL joy when you face various trials, because when your faith is tested, patience is produced in you. You do not walk alone, and you don’t have to live held down – joy is found in the One who died to save you, and oh how He loves you. //

 

 

// Complaining – How it Will Ruin You //

Complaining. It’s something we do a lot, but probably not something we want to talk about, or admit to. But, nevertheless, it’s an important topic- one that’s been on my heart lately, and something that consumed a lot of my thoughts last year.

As Christians, we’re supposed to have the joy of the Lord, right? We should literally be the happiest people on earth. But I think we can all agree that, sometimes, it’s really hard to live like that. After all, life is hard! It’s tough, we stumble, we get knocked to the ground, people let us down, and things don’t go the way we planned.

I, specifically, had a lot going on in my church last year (and it still hasn’t been completely resolved, but I’m trying to face it with a new attitude). It resulted in a lot of complaining.

It got to the point where it wasn’t just me complaining, but my family was on board, and so was another family in our church. And you know what thought struck me out of the blue one day? I caught myself thinking negatively- not unordinary, because sadly, I’d become accustomed to it- and this thought came to my mind: “Do you not have anything to be joyful about? It doesn’t seem like it. Are you really that discontent?”

Ouch. *clears throat* Conviction. That thought had to have come from God, you guys. And it just struck me. Was I so far down in the dumps that I couldn’t think of a single, good thing? I couldn’t think of one reason to be joyful?

Friends, here’s what you need to know about complaining:

  • Complaining robs us of our joy. When we complain, we’re letting our minds focus on the bad. We’re letting our thought patterns drift to everything that’s wrong with our lives. Allowing complaining to invade our lives replaces joy with thoughts of discontentment, hurt, and even anger.
  • Complaining hurts our witness. One of the best ways we can show our love and commitment to Christ is through the way we live. Our love for others, giving our best efforts, being joyful. People can see something is different when we’re living a life overflowing with joy because of Christ. But if all the complaining has smothered that joy, what kind of a witness do we have? What kind of an example are we setting for the lost?
  • Complaining affects those around us. Just as complaining can steal our own joy, it can just as easily rob others of their joy. Nobody wants to hang around someone who is constantly stating everything wrong with their life. In my case, I shared the same complaints with a close friend, and we were both sucked into the pit this way. You’re hurting other people by complaining.

Complaining is wrong. The Bible actually commands us not to complain, but rather, to rejoice. Here are a few passages from God’s word about complaining:

Philippians 2:14 // Do all things without complaining and disputing,

James 5:9a // Do not grumble against one another…

Ephesians 4:29 // Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

Even in the midst of hardship and trouble, we have so much to be thankful for, so many reasons to have joy! Our Father, the God of this universe, sent His only Son as a lowly baby, to die on a cross, so that we wouldn’t have to be separated from God, and we could live with Him for all eternity. Jesus was literally separated from the Father for us. I was at a youth conference recently, and our speaker said something I thought was really cool. Jesus prayed to God “let this cup pass from me.” He cried out “Why have you forsaken me?” My speaker said this: God said no to Jesus so that He could say yes to us. That right there is reason enough for us to have joy! We can’t allow complaining to steal it from us.

Philippians 4:4 // Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

1 Thessalonians 5:16 // Rejoice always.

So, we’ve established that complaining ruins our lives and the lives of others. We understand that we’re commanded not to complain. But how exactly do we stop complaining? Well, here are a few practical ways:

  • Trust in the Lord. Ultimately, when we’re complaining, we’re not giving our problems to God. We’re not trusting Him to take care of them, but rather, we’re choosing to dwell on them. We have to lay our complaints down at His feet and say, “Lord, I’m trusting you with this. Do with it what you will.” Proverbs 16:20 says, “Whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he.” Trust God with whatever that thing is that you’re complaining about. A family situation, a problem you’re facing, something you’re worried about- whatever it is! Trust Him.
  • Consider it joy. “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials…” You know what, we weren’t promised an easy life! We weren’t even promised a safe life. But God’s word says to count it joy when we face trials. Rather than complain about them, look for ways to grow from them; search for what God is trying to teach you. Everything happens for a reason, and I don’t believe that God lets us go through trials without a reason behind them. Consider it joy!
  • Focus on God, and what He has done. “You have put joy in my heart, more than in the season that their grain and wine increased.” Psalm 4:7 I’m sure everyone can agree with me when I say this: God has done so much for us. So much. Just like complaining forces you to focus on negative thoughts, taking a moment to count your blessing and remind yourself of all God has done for you can bring us joyful thoughts. He has put joy in our hearts! I don’t believe for one second that it glorifies God when we sit around and complain or grumble. Focus on what He has done for you! Your focus will determine your thought pattern, so what are you going to choose to focus on?
  • Choose an accountability partner. So, that same friend that I would complain about things with? Well, we decided that, anytime either of us started to complain, tell the other to zip their lips. This is just something I’ve found helps. Yes, we’re still human, and no, we don’t always succeed with this, but I think it’s a good idea to have someone to give you a reminder when you do start complaining.

I would encourage you to take some time today and really think about what’s caused complaining in your life. Ask yourself, what’s been stealing my joy & what course of action am I going to take to stop it?

Let’s Talk! What’s been stealing your joy? What are you going to do to stop it? Is there any way I can pray for you?

Today’s post was by Riley Rawls! Thank you so much Riley for writing this encouraging and challenging post! You all should go check out her awesome blog!


About the author:

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Riley Rawls is the author of Daisy: The Homeschool Kids, her debut novella. She has been writing for three years, and plans to release more in the series in upcoming years. The 16-year-old, Christian author’s main goal in her writing is to make an impact in people’s lives and glorify God through it. She has been homeschooled for most of her life, and juggles writing meaningful stories, playing her beloved instruments, keeping up with her studies, reading dystopian novels, and playing basketball. She’s a Star Wars fanatic, a fan of Casting Crowns, and a lover of all things blue.

Photo credit: Stock Snap (edit by me)

// Thursday Thankful Things //

This Thursday I’m thankful for…

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Beautiful sunsets 2 nights in a row

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My thankfulness journal 🙂 (each night I write down 10 things I’m thankful for from the day)

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Getting back into journaling this week

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SNOOOWWW :):):)

Letters from friends💕

Studying the Bible + discovering amazing things!

What are YOU thankful for today?

Romans 1:16-17 // For I am not ashamed of the Good News of Christ, for it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes; for the Jew first, and also for the Greek. For in it is revealed God’s righteousness from faith to faith. As it is written, “But the righteous shall live by faith.”

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