Is There Hope? Forgiveness (Decision 6)

Liz Cowen Furman:

Image: Sujin Jetkasettakorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: Sujin Jetkasettakorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Over a lifetime, anyone’s life, there are moments when one can feel desperate enough to even be thinking about suicide. There are so many things Satan uses to send a person to the brink of losing hope. And a life without hope is the one that may ponder suicide.

In the previous post of this Is There Hope? series, I promised to share with you the sixth decision a person can make to start getting their life back on track. If you recall I encouraged you to get Andy Andrew’s book, The Traveler’s Gift, which we are discussing in this series. In this book, decision number six is probably the most life changing of all:

I Will Greet This Day with a Forgiving Spirit.

Not forgiving people who have offended or hurt us doesn’t hurt them, it eats us alive from the inside out.

From page 138,  The Travelers Gift:

For too long, every ounce of forgiveness I owned was locked away, hidden from view, waiting for me to bestow its precious presence upon some worthy person. Alas, I found most people to be singularly unworthy of my valuable forgiveness and, since they never asked for any, I kept it all for myself. Now, the forgiveness that I hoarded has sprouted inside my heart like a crippled seed yielding bitter fruit.

No more! At this moment, my life has taken on new hope and assurance. Of all the world’s population, I am one of the few possessors of the secret to dissipating anger and resentment. I now understand that forgiveness only has value when it is given away. By the simple act of granting forgiveness, I release the demons of the past about which I can do nothing and create in myself a new heart, a new beginning.

 Forgiving someone who has hurt me doesn’t say that what they did isn’t wrong or didn’t hurt. What it does is release me from the responsibility of paying them back. It takes me out of bondage not them. And, oh how much power there is in those three little words; I FORGIVE YOU. Whether said aloud or just to myself, it lifts a huge burden. Sometimes the person we most need to forgive is our self.

More insights from Andy Andrews (Page 139-140 ):

I will greet this day with a forgiving spirit. I will forgive myself. For many years, my greatest enemy has been myself. Every mistake, every miscalculation, every stumble I made has been replayed over and over in my mind. Every broken promise, every day wasted, every goal not reached has compounded the disgust I feel for the lack of achievement in my life. My dismay has developed a paralyzing grip. When I disappoint myself, I respond with inaction and become more disappointed. 

 So until the next post resolve to forgive yourself and others and stop thinking about suicide. And have a listen to Andy Andrews on forgiveness. Don’t forget to read The Traveler’s Gift too.

 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32, NIV Bible)

Hope: Choosing Happiness (Decision 5)

By Liz Cowen Furman:

Is choosing happiness an option when depression is part of your life? Read and ponder this:

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Over a lifetime, anyone’s life, there are moments when one can feel desperate enough to even be thinking about suicide. There are so many things Satan uses to send a person to the brink of losing hope. And a life without hope is the one that may ponder suicide.

In the previous post of this series, I promised to share with you the fifth decision a person can make to start getting their life to a better place. If you recall I encouraged you to get Andy Andrew’s book  The Travelers Gift and to start reading it. ( It is also available at the library.)

Decision number five states; Today I Will Choose to be Happy.

Just like choosing to get dressed in the morning or to make dinner we can choose to be happy. Once I realized that was true, it changed everything. No longer is happiness something anyone can take away from me. No longer is it dependent on my circumstances.

Beginning this very moment, I am a happy person, for I now truly understand the concept of happiness. Few others before me have been able to grasp the truth of the physical law that enables one to live happily every day. I know now that happiness is not an emotional phantom floating in and out of my life.

Happiness is a choice.

Happiness is the end result of certain thoughts and activities, which actually bring about a chemical reaction in my body. This reaction results in a euphoria, which, while elusive to some, is totally under my control. (Page 108, The Traveler’s Gift)

One way of cultivating happiness is to have a grateful heart. Do I look at my broken car and be sad because it needs fixed, or do I remain happy because I own a car to have repaired?

Do I look at the pile of work ahead of me today and bemoan the fact that it is so much to do, or be grateful that I am employed?

The choice is mine every day. I can choose to be grateful for what I have or I can lament the things I don’t. When I choose to be grateful, my whole countenance changes. My entire outlook is redone.

Today I will choose to be happy. I am the possessor of a grateful spirit. In the past, I have found discouragement in particular situations, until I compared the condition of my life to others less fortunate.

Just as a fresh breeze cleans smoke from the air, so does a grateful spirit remove the cloud of despair. It is impossible for the seeds of depression to take root in a thankful heart.

My God has bestowed upon me many gifts, and for these I will remember to be grateful. Too many times, I have offered up the prayers of a beggar, always asking for more and forgetting my thanks. (Page 109, The Traveler’s Gift)

I encourage you to stop thinking about suicide and read that last posts in this series plus The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews. Also, why not listen to him describing the 5th decision, choosing happiness, himself:

Is There Any Hope for Me? (Decision 4)

By Liz Cowen Furman:

 Do you wonder, “Is there any hope for me?” Considering suicide? There IS hope.

 

Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In my previous post in The Traveler’s Gift series here on our site, about the  Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews, I promised to share with you the fourth decision a person can make to start getting their life to a place they want it to be.  (I encourage you to seek out that book as a resource.)

Although this passage pertains to being more successful in life, when you are feeling depressed and overwhelmed one of the most important “successful” things you can do right now will be to succeed in staying alive.

Instead of letting your troubles overwhelm you, lift them up to God, and ask Him to help change your way of thinking about them, because new thoughts lead to new actions and new hope. And remember, this article is only one part in our series on finding new hope, so do read the other articles in this series.

Decision number four relates to the passage in the book titled I Have a Decided Heart where the character makes this declaration with deliberate new choices:

I have a decided heart. I am passionate about my vision for the future. I will awaken every morning with an excitement about the new day and its opportunity for growth and change. My thoughts and actions will work in a forward motion, never sliding into the dark forest of doubt or the muddy quicksand of self-pity. I will freely give my vision for the future to others, and as they see the belief in my eyes, they will follow me. (Page 88, The Traveler’s Gift)

This may be one of those times when we have to “fake it ‘till we make it.” If you notice, it says I have a DECIDED heart. Meaning we can choose to decide to live with a new outlook. Listen to what the historical character of the book shares with our protagonist (main character).

I have a decided heart. I will not wait.

I know that the purpose of analysis is to come to a conclusion. I have tested the angles. I have measured the probabilities. And now I have made a decision with my heart. I am not timid. I will move now and not look back. What I put off until tomorrow, I will put off until the next day as well. I do not procrastinate. All my problems become smaller when I confront them. If I touch a thistle with caution, it will prick me, but if I grasp it boldly, its spines crumble into dust. I will not wait. I am passionate about my vision for the future. My course has been charted. My destiny is assured. (Page 89, The Traveler’s Gift)

 

I encourage you to take hold of these decisions, and others we have discussed in The Traveler’s Gift. Also, take a few minutes to listen to Andy Andrews description of the Decided Heart himself, in this video:

When you trust God with your future, it’s more than just about positive thinking–it’s about allowing your creator to lead you in new directions, before you give up hope.

Not sure how to find God? Visit GodTest.com.

Is There Hope? Take Action (Decision 3)

By Liz Cowen Furman:

Don’t give up: change your thinking and take action, one small step at a time.

From our Is There Hope? series (Click to see Decisions 1 & 2). Material from The Travelers Gift used by permission from Thomas Nelson and Andy Andrews as we hope to save lives–including yours.

Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Over a lifetime there are moments when one can feel desperate enough to even be thinking about suicide. There are so many things Satan uses to send a person to the brink of losing hope. And a life without hope is the one that may ponder suicide.

In the previous post of this series, I promised to share with you the third decision a person can make to start getting their life to a place they want it to be. If you recall I encouraged you to start reading (new, used or from your library) Andy Andrews’ book The Travelers Gift. 

Decision number 3 calls us to move. I Am a Person of Action. Here is the description by the character in the book:

Beginning today, I will create a new future by creating a new me. No longer will I dwell in a pit of despair, moaning over squandered time and lost opportunity. I can do nothing about the past. My future is immediate. I will grasp it in both hands and carry it with running feet. When I am faced with the choice of doing nothing or doing something, I will always choose to act! I seize this moment. I choose now.  I am a person of action. (Page 69, The Traveler’s Gift)

The rest of his advice is wonderful and completely encouraging. Here is how it ends:

I am a person of action. I am daring. I am courageous. Fear no longer has a place in my life. For too long, fear has outweighed my desire to make things better for my family. Never again! I have exposed fear as a vapor, an impostor who never had any power over me in the first place! I do not fear opinion, gossip, or the idle chatter of monkeys for all are the same to me. I do not fear failure, for in my life, failure is a myth. Failure only exists for the person who quits. I do not quit.

I am courageous. I am a leader. I seize this moment. I choose now. (Page 70, The Traveler’s Gift)

I understand that when a person feels despondent, depressed, scared this may sound like an impossible undertaking. Nevertheless, remember a voyage of a 1000 miles starts with a single step. Do what you can today, pray for help and agree to be committed to reading every post and the book to get you on a path away from thinking about suicide and begin embracing hope.  Look forward to post 5 to hear the next decision.

In the meantime, why not watch this You Tube clip of Andy Andrews describing becoming a person of action himself.

Is There Hope? Seeking Wisdom (Decision 2)

By Liz Cowen Furman:

Do you know that seeking wisdom can make a huge difference in how you see hope for the future?

Over a lifetime, anyone’s life, there are moments when one can feel desperate enough to even be thinking about suicide. There are so many things Satan uses to send a person to the brink of losing hope. And a life without hope is the one that may ponder suicide.

Liz's Bible

This is post is about Decision 2 in our series from The Traveler’s Gift. In the previous posts in this series, I promised to share with you the second decision a person can make to start getting their life to a place they want it to be. If you recall I encouraged you to get Andy Andrew’s book , The Traveler’s Gift and to start reading it.

If you are just now tuning in, here is a link where you can purchase the book on Amazon either new or used. It is also available at the library.

Decision number two for a person who wants their life to be of their choosing is:

I Will Seek Wisdom.

Are you seeking wisdom? There are many places to look for it. The most accurate place I have found wisdom is in the Bible. If you haven’t read it and even if you have, I cannot recommend it more profoundly. It changes my life nearly daily.

Listen to what the character in The Travelers Gift has to say about wisdom:

Knowing that wisdom waits to be gathered, I will actively search her out. My past can never be changed, but I can change the future by changing my actions today. I will change my actions today! I will train my eyes and ears to read and listen to books and recordings that bring about positive changes in my personal relationships and a greater understanding of my fellow man. No longer will I bombard my mind with materials that feed my doubts and fears. I will read and listen only to that which increases my belief in myself and my future. (Page 48, The Traveler’s Gift)

 

A person with courage recognizes that his future can be better and then takes steps to make that happen.

Courage is offered in Matthew 14 from Jesus himself. He says “take courage”. He offers it, but we must take Him up on His offer.

Another way to gather wisdom is to associate ourselves with people who are wise. Listen to another portion of this character’s explanation:

I will seek wisdom. I will choose my friends with care. I am who my friends are. I speak their language, and I wear their clothes. I share their opinions and their habits. From this moment forward, I will choose to associate with people whose lives and lifestyles I admire. If I associate with chickens, I will learn to scratch at the ground and squabble over crumbs. If I associate with eagles, I will learn to soar to great heights. I am an eagle. It is my destiny to fly. (Page 49, The Traveler’s Gift)

The decision to seek wisdom has several facets besides those mentioned here–be sure to see The Traveler’s Gift for more on how that can affect your future and hope.

See the video below to see and hear Mr. Andrews share a bit of his story, including recovering from homelessness and joblessness while also seeing God work through that. He focuses on how choices about the way you interact with others affects how they treat you and ultimately your future.

See our previous posts in our Is There Hope? series:

Is There Hope? Choosing New Beginnings

Is There Hope? The Buck Stops Here (Decision 1)

 

Long-term Depression and Thoughts of Suicide

By PeggySue Wells:

Do you struggle with long-term depression and at times feel insignificant?

God says you are significant AND valuable.

Stock Image by David Castillo / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Stock Image by David Castillo / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Having thoughts of suicide can be a temporary condition triggered by crisis in our lives. But for others, this dark night of the soul is a continuous condition, year after year. Here is how one person described this experience.

Many more people are silently suffering and depressed than ever before. We hear stories about great things coming around for everyone else but nothing is happening for us. We hear about weddings and new arrivals and again nothing for us.

What happens when our anxiety and depression is recognized and being treated but the medications and therapy is no longer working? Or is at a plateau? For our doctors, friends, and family it’s hard to talk about because they don’t know what to do about it either. It’s a scary place to be because there are some things in life that feel completely unfixable and when you’ve spent ten to fifteen years talking it out or taking anti-depressants or doing group therapy sessions – what now?  

As a generation of people who were diagnosed with depression and anxiety through suicidal thoughts, we have to start talking about how we are going to go through life once the meds stop working and the talk therapy is no longer helping. And of course, how we will pay for this is a whole other issue.

I know the pain of being consumed with thoughts of suicide in the middle of the night.

Are you having long-term thoughts of suicide? Have you experienced such a dark time and come through to brighter days?

Despite the struggle and the pain, you matter. You are important. Significant. When thoughts of despair plague, remember that the Lord is with you even in this.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

 

You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.

Psalm 139:1-18

 ©PeggySue Wells. Peggy writes about coping with difficult issues in books including What To Do When You’re Scared To Death, and Rediscovering Your Happily Ever After. www.PeggySueWells.com

Stopping Fear Syndrome

By Pat Ennis:

Fear is defined as “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined.”( Random House Webster’s College Dictionary, 2nd ed.)

We live in a fear dominated world—serious illness, weight gain, financial reversal, old age, death, rejection, and fear of man are all categories of fear that cause a focus away from God and toward circumstances.

Fear is real and it is not always negative—when you sense danger, fear usually stimulates you to fight or flee.  However, often the consequences are not positive—for example, fear can . . .

  • Hinder your relationship with others.
  • Stifle your ability to think rationally.
  • Rob you of joy.
  • Injure your relationship with God.
  • Create inner turmoil that can eventually lead to thoughts of suicide.

Since the presence of fear produces such detrimental results, it seems reasonable to locate an antidote to it. Scripture teaches that God’s Word is sufficient to override your fears.

  • The natural reaction to fear is panic. The antidote is to replace potential fear with trust in God (Psalm 56:3-4, 11).
  • Since God comforts you, why should you be afraid (Isaiah 51: 12-16)?
  • You can be content in every circumstance because God has promised to never leave or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5-6).

As you meditate upon the reality that Scripture constantly urges God’s children to trust rather than fear, consider this account that was shared by an African missionary about a herd of lions:

This particular story is about the old king.  You see a lion can only be the king as long as he is strong enough to hold his position— and there is always another lion trying to usurp it.  Usually by the time the old king is replaced he does not have any teeth and only a few claws.  His hair is matted, he has arthritis in the joints, and he no longer can fight to keep his position so a younger lion becomes the new king.

However, the old king is not entirely useless—he still has a role in the herd when the lions go on a hunt.  When the herd hunts, the old, mean-looking, ferocious lion stands on one side while the young hunter lions hide in the bushes on the opposite side.  When the prey appears, the former king looks at it and begins to roar; the roar scares the prey so badly that it runs to the opposite side—right into the waiting jaws of the hunter lions that attack and destroy it.  If the prey had run toward the roar, more than likely it would have been safe, since all the old lion had left was his roar.

The only positive fear recorded in scripture is the fear of God.  This fear is a reverence of God’s majesty, power, and greatness.  When you choose to “run to the roar” you will most likely find the influence of the fear dissolving.

How to Stop Discouragement

By Pat Ennis

Discouragement, extracted from the Greek word athumeo, means to be disheartened, dispirited, and discouraged.  It frequently occurs when expectations are unfulfillment by hoping for impractical outcomes or anticipating unrealistic relationships. The greater the gap between hope and fulfillment, the greater the potential for discouragement and anger. An analysis of the prophet Elijah’s life (1 Kings 19:1-22; 2 Kings 2:1-10) provides us with biblical guidelines that shows us how to stop discouragement.     

Elijah faced off with 450 false prophets of Baal and though he emerged a victor (1 Kings 18:18-46), Queen Jezebel did not share his enthusiasm.  In fact, she was furious (1 Kings 19:1-2)! Instead of surrendering, as Elijah had expected, she issued an ultimatum, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time” (1 Kings 19:3).

Elijah’s response is what I call the Elijah Effect:

  • Fear! (1 Kings 19:1-2).
  • Running away from his problems (1 Kings 19:3).
  • Thinking negative thoughts instead of meditating on God’s faithfulness (1 Kings 19:4).
  • Emotional and physical fatigue (1 Kings 19:5-9).
  • False expectations and unrealistic attitudes regarding the responsibilities God called him to assume (1 Kings 19:10).
  • And then the big one – self-pity (1 Kings 19:14).

If you find yourself caught in the downward spiral of Elijah Effect , try:

  • Resting and relaxing (1 Kings 19:5-9).
  • Focusing on communion with (talking to) God (1 Kings 19:9-13).
  • Using the Word of God as a sword to fight the source of discouragement, Satan (Ephesians 6:17).
  • After a season of rest, resume your activity so that you are  not ‘soaking and souring’ (1 Kings 19:15-18).
  • Allowing friends to minister to you (Proverbs 17:17).

As you consider Elijah’s life, you will see how to stop discouragement when faced with difficult circumstances so you can follow God into a brighter tomorrow.

If you need some encouragement, watch this video of Donnie McClurkin singing Days of Elijah: