Thank God for the joy of worship and fellowship

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Thank God for the joy of going to church today to worship God and to have fellowship with my church friends. It is spiritually very refreshing to me and it lifts up my spirit to continue to seek God and walk with Him and serve Him in the coming week.

This is a privilege which I can't enjoy very much whenever I go through relapses of severe depression. Whenever I go through severe depression, I will be so slowed down and miserable that I could hardly function. I have no energy nor will to do anything. From the moment I wake up in the morning until the time I go to bed, I will be extremely miserable. This often can go on for about 3 to 6 months, or longer. I dragged myself through each day, incapable of feeling any pleasure or joy. The most painful of all was the sad fact that I lost my joy in the Lord too at such times. This is because the chemical in my brain is not functioning properly or sending the appropriate messages. I was not able to think or feel aright generally. So I often mistakenly thought that either God has forsaken me or I was not a true Christian. Sometimes I wondered whether I was a hypocrite destined for eternal damnation. Life seems so meaningless to me without God. What is the point of going on?

I cannot imagine how I could have survived the 10 or so dark and painful depression episodes without God’s preservation and mercies. During those years, I didn’t know that my condition is an illness and that there is actually a pattern to it. After several months of normal or high (hypomania), a relapse of clinical depression will follow for another few months. In the recent years, my relapses have become more closer and more difficult to cope. With every severe depressive episodes, there is the tendency to have suicidal thoughts as life seems so meaningless without God and the ability to enjoy anything or do anything. The seemed no light at the end of the tunnel.

Thank God that even though I was not able to feel His presence or love for me during a relapse of severe depression, He has never leave me nor forsake me. In fact, it is He that is sustaining me. Underneath me is His everlasting arms! What a mercy!

"The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: ...." Deuteronomy 33:27a

It is a mercy that I can have opportunities to worship God in a Church that love God and love me. I thank God for His love for me in leading me to know Himself in 1990, some 18 years ago, and how He has sustained me through so many challenges in my life. Even now in this bipolar disorder, He is continuing to enable me to know more of His love and faithfulness.

I thank God for my family, my Pastor, my church elders and deacons, church friends and other friends, for all their prayers and encouragements, and kindness in so many ways. These are tokens of God's love for me and they strengthen my heart as I seek to walk with the Lord Jesus Christ and serve Him. It gives me courage to continue on despite my condition. Though I know that there is always the possibility that I might have to go through severe depression again though on medication and with other help (as this is the nature of the illness), but I find much joy and courage in the Lord daily as I look to Him for strength and grace to live for Him. I know that He will continue to take care of me even as I strive to take care of myself so that I can continue to seek and serve Him. And I can look forward to the day when my tasks on this earth is completed, and the Lord takes me home to be with Himself, to my eternal rest, to enjoy His love, to worship Him and to spend eternity with Him. What a blessed hope!



My brother, Arthur, took this lovely photo at Muriwai Beach, West Auckland, New Zealand.



"...for he hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee."
Hebrews 13:5

John 14
1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.

13 Kind thoughts:

Dream Writer said...

It is a great feeling when one goes to church, huh? I know I feel different when I go and then leave. My son makes communion this May and it will be a special event.

Looking forward to it :)

My Life with Bipolar Disorder said...

Thanks, Dream. It is truly a great blessing to go to church and I am always strengthened by the sermons, prayers, singing and fellowship. What a joy to know that your son will join the communion this May! May God bless and keep you and family in His love daily. Take care :)

marja said...

Thank you for this, Nancie. It's true that even we who love God will almost surely be visited by depression again when we battle a disorder like bipolar. But we can trust that God WILL always be with us, even when it doesn't feel like He is. It's a blessing to have a church family who will remind us that He's there, friends who will have faith for us and who will show God's love to us through their care. We should be thankful we have them and we need to nurture those friendships. I'm also so very very grateful to my brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Aaron said...

Hi Nancy,

I am extremely blessed to be planted in such a wonderful and healthy church. It is a challenge for me at times when I miss church or other events that I have committed to because of the illness we struggle with. It can be very discouraging as well trying to then explain to your close friends where you have been when they wonder why you kind of "dropped out." And try to convince them that you're not a flake. In fact, I have to say that is the hardest thing I deal with right now with my friends at church. I am a commissioned leader, and am so torn up when I am not able to keep a commitment - especially when there is a higher level of expectation on you.

But I do agree with you, when I am able to get out of my funk, and make it to church, and worship Him for who He is because He is worthy of all my praise. Receive a good message from my pastor that feeds my spirit for the week. And spend that invaluable time in fellowship with other believers. That connectedness to is so important for anyone but ESPECIALLY for those that struggle with bi-polar who have a tenancy to isolate when they have cycled into a depressive episode and "disappear" from life altogether.

I just found your blog tonight after googling bi-polar literature. I'm researching Christian perspectives right now on bi-polar because I'm looking into starting a Men's Bi-Polar Support Group through my church.

Thanks Nancie - Your blog is awesome!

Aaron

My Life with Bipolar Disorder said...

Thank God for blessing you with a church and brothers and sisters in Christ who love God and love you, Marja. Truly, we must cherish these previous brethren in the Lord and seek to nurture our friendship with them. May God make us a blessing to them too. Take care.

My Life with Bipolar Disorder said...

Hi Aaron,

Thanks for your sharing. And welcome to my blog. Thank God that you have found my blog useful. Praise God for giving me the joy to serve Him through this blog, and the many oversea friends and penpals I have acquainted through it.

It is encouraging to know that God has provided you with a wonderful church. This is a token of God's love and mercy to us. But it is indeed not easy to explain to others about our condition. Most people will not understand unless they have been through it themselves. It takes a lot of patience and grace to educate them so that they may understand our "disappearing act" every now and then. My doctor suggested to me recently that I should tell my friends that I am like a bear and I hibernate at certain time of the year :-)

Thankful to God for laying upon your heart the burden to start a Men's Bi-Polar Support Group through your church. This is a good cause. You may wish to visit Marja Bergen's blog "Roller Coaster" and her "Living Room: Faith-based mood disorder support" blog. Marja started Living Room in her church as a support group to people with mood disorder. It is an awesome ministry and a great help to many people who are hurting. It also gives her a lot of joy and purpose in life, to be able to serve our Lord even in her depression.

Her 2 blogs are:

Roller Coaster:
http://marjabergen.blogspot.com/

Living Room:
http://www.livingroomsupport.org/

May God continue to preserve and strengthen you as you walk with Him and serve Him. It is a great comfort that God is with us, and He never leave us nor forsake us, through all the changing scenes of life. Take care.

In God's mercies,
Nancie

Aaron said...

Hi Nancie,

Thank you for the links from Marja's Living Room. I found many helpful tips and ideas for starting a small group here in my city of Seattle.

I am 36, and have been struggling with suicidal thoughts since the age of 5. I was diagnosed with bi-polar at age 15. It has been a very long road, but I'm learning just recently the value of embracing bi-polar - instead of fighting against it - and using what has happened in my life to help others who are suffering.

It is very encouraging to me to know that there are other Christians in this blog that I can talk to about bi-polar. In the short 5 years that I've been a Christian I have found there is a stigma in the Body of Christ regarding mental illness. It is refreshing to find a place where we can talk about the illness, and how we overcome each day with the strength and grace that only comes from our relationship with Jesus, and letting Him love us through other people.

Blessings,
Aaron

My Life with Bipolar Disorder said...

Hi Aaron,

Thank God that you have found helpful tips and ideas for starting a small support group. May God bless and guide you and others involve in this endeavour to help His suffering children. I am keeping you in my prayers.

It must have been a very difficult journey for you to have experience suicidal thoughts at the tender age of 5. And for a 15 year old boy to be diagnosed with bipolar must have been difficult. Thank God for preserving you.

Like Marja and some others, I am also learning that the most important part of our recovery lies in accepting our condition and learning thereon to manage it so that we can continue to serve God despite our limitations that come with this condition.

As a Christian, I found comfort in the knowledge that God loves me. He is sovereignly in control even in allowing me to have this bipolar disorder. In fact, Marja and I, found that by God's mercies, we were able to find many blessings in our bipolar disorder. I have posted a post on my blog under "Blessings in bipolar".

We found that it has drawn us nearer to know and love God as we experience His love through the people around us and His faithfulness in sustaining and restoring us. We also found that through our own pains and struggles, God developed a certain compassionate heart in us so that we are able to sympathize with others who suffer and able to comfort them with the same comfort He is comforting us.

Thank God that you know Him as your God. There is indeed still such a terrible stigma associated with mental illnesses, even among Christians. We need to pray for our church and brethren, and try to share with them when there is opportunities so that others can come forward and seek help, as many could be suffering in silent.

I am glad that you have found me, Marja and others on the Blog who can share and testify of God's goodness and mercies! So welcome to our online Support Group - online Living Room! May God continue to enable us to continue to pray and encourage one another as we seek to walk with Him and serve Him even in this bipolar condition. May God's purposes be accomplished in and through us and His glory manifested and known, to the salvation of sinners and edification of saints.

Glad to be acquainted with you. I look forward to read your blog when it is up. Take care and God bless.

Remembering you in prayers,
Nancie

marja said...

A note to Aaron from Marja. Please email me if there is anything I can do to help you with your plans to start a support group. I love to dialogue with people who have the same passions I do. My email address is marja@livingroomsupport.org
(Hope you read this)

Aaron said...

Hi Nancie and Marja,

I want to thank you both for your prayers and support towards me, for your ministries to those in the Body of Christ who are suffering with mental illness, and for your missions to reach the lost who do not know the Lord and are struggling with this difficult condition. You are both in my prayers.

Honestly, I don't know how anyone could fight this illness alone. I remember 5 years ago when I did not have a relationship with God and I was pulling my hair out trying to figure out why my life was such a struggle just to exist. Then the Lord radically saved me and pulled me out from the dark grave where I lived, and for the first time I saw myself as He sees me - a beloved child of God who has a purpose and destiny on this planet. And I have to tell you as I begin preparing for this small group, I am just now beginning to visualize really what that purpose is.

May God bless you both richly.

Aaron

My Life with Bipolar Disorder said...

Thanks, Aaron. It is encouraging to hear of what the Lord has done for you and is doing for you now, and how He is using you to help others to know Him and His love. To know God's love and purpose for us is very liberating. In Him alone, we can find comfort and hope through all the changing scenes of life. Thanks for your prayers. May God keep you near to Him and make you a blessing to others.

And thanks too, Marja. May God also keep you near to Him and bless your endeavours for Him.

May the Lord enable us to continue to know His mercies and faithfulness as we strive to seek and serve Him wherever He places us. May God use our testimonies of His goodness to us in our bipolar condition to bring glory to Himself and draw people to know Him and His love too.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life." John 3:16

To God be the glory.

Marissa Miller said...

This post was very encouraging. I began blogging because I felt there was a void I needed to fill but it looks like the pool of Christians with bipolar disorder blogging has widened! Your blog is definitely an encouragement and I hope to be reading it more in the future.

Best to you, Marissa

my life with bipolar disorder said...

Hi Marissa,

Thanks for your kind comment. And welcome to my blog. Glad you find the posts encouraging.

It's my joy to serve God through sharing His goodness to me and also to share some hope and resources with fellow sufferer of this condition. It is a comfort that depression and bipolar are treatable. It's a joy to share my discoveries with others just as I am learning so much from others through their blogs, and also through the resources on the internet.

I had a quick look at your blog. Will return to read more.

Take care.

Kind regards,
Nancie

 

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