Category Archives: Humanity

RECOVERING FROM A BROKEN HEART:

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The dictionary defines heartbreak as “crushing grief, anguish, or distress.” In today’s world, the term brokenhearted usually describes someone who has suffered a failed relationship or loss of a loved one. A search of the internet makes it appear as though almost all heartbreak comes from divorce or being dropped by a lover. But a broken heart may be brought on by a myriad of causes such as disappointment in a child’s lifestyle, loss of possession, loss of job, etc. Whatever the cause, the pain of a broken heart can be enormous.

The world would assert that hope lies in psychoanalysis and medication. Advice may include taking an antidepressant, writing an angry letter and tearing it up, going on a shopping spree, getting a makeover, etc. Some would advocate the power of positive thinking. The most common “cure” is time. The world’s focus is on feelings, but God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). While the non-Christian may sense a waning in intensity of heartbreak, only a Christian can experience complete recovery because only the Christian has access to the power of the Spirit of God who alone “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).

The events in Job’s life may be the earliest biblical record of heartbreak. In one day Job lost his children, almost all worldly possessions, his health, and his means of livelihood. What was Job’s response? “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD'” (Job 1:20-21). Job grieved. Yet, he worshiped God and remained faithful. Although he had doubts as to God’s goodness in these terrible events, through the trial he grew closer to God through God’s revelation of Himself (Job 42:1-5). Job learned what all believers can learn through heartbreak—God is faithful and good and trustworthy.

David, a man after God’s own heart, suffered many heartbreaking circumstances. Each time, he recovered and was an even stronger man of God. Psalm 34 gives an example of how David overcame heartbreak by calling on the Lord. Notice the first step: “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4). David knew “the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). Finally, he expressed a confidence in the love of God that every believer should have: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19).

One might ask in a moment of despair, “He may have helped David, but does God care about me?” The answer is He absolutely does! “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). What a comfort to know that God “will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). God is always near to comfort the believer. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). God, who cannot lie, has promised to go through our trials with us. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you” (Isaiah 43:2).

God never failed one of His people when they cried out to Him, and He will not fail the heartbroken Christian who cries out to Him today. He may not always answer exactly in the way we would like, but He answers according to His perfect will and timing and, while we are waiting for the answer, His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Finally, those who belong to Christ and are enduring heartbreak must know that God loves them and that His love is unconditional. Imagine the grief God the Father endured as He witnessed the crucifixion of His Son on the cross. What amazing love! That same God is there to comfort the brokenhearted and restore the joy of their salvation.

Prophet Nathan Emol

SELF HATRED:

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Anyone who is without Christ and without hope or who adopts the world’s values may come to view life as futile and hate living (Ecclesiastes 2:17-18). Thus, a secular worldview may result in self-hatred. Presumably, we who have obeyed the gospel and love the Lord do not hate life; we are not without hope in the world (1 Corinthians 15:19; Colossians 1:5; Psalm 16:8-11). Even though we are sojourners and look for a better place, we hate evil, not ourselves (even though we sometimes produce evil). Because Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us by faith, we are righteous and should be glad; we should exult before God and be jubilant with joy (Psalm 68:3)! Self-hatred is the cry of a tormented soul, not the new song of one whom God has saved with His strong arm and for whom He has done marvelous things. Yet, sadly, even redeemed saints can feel depressed and bereft of joy (see Psalm 51:8-12). Why is this? Certainly a repenting saint should have a broken spirit and contrite heart; but a saint should shun self-hatred as an inordinate earthly passion (Colossians 3:5) of the flesh (1 John 2:16-17).

According to Scripture, anyone who continually practices iniquity injures himself and shows that (in a practical sense) he despises or hates his own life (Proverbs 29:24; 8:36; 15:32). Saints do not continually practice iniquity or keep sinning in this way. Although self-hatred is not godly, Christians may experience something like it when they harbor unconfessed sin and feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit. However, both unbelievers (those who have not confessed they are lost in sin and trusted in Christ as their Lord and savior) and believers may fall victim to feelings of self-hatred to the degree that they submit to the world’s values regarding beauty, success, and similar “markers of value.”

A person may come to hate himself for being old or physically unattractive. Some may arrive at self-hatred because they consider themselves losers who lack certain talents or resources (intelligence, personal connections, money, and influence). Anyone who accepts the idealized standards of beauty, success, and power as portrayed in the mass media—and fails to live up to those standards—may arrive at the unreasonable conclusion that he or she is not worthy of love and begin to sink into self-hatred. God warns us not to hate our neighbors, and we must not make unreasonable demands upon ourselves and end up sinning against God by hating ourselves (Leviticus 19:17).

If you hate yourself because you do not “measure up” according to worldly standards, realize that in doing so you are showing hatred or anger toward God who made you as you are and placed you in your current circumstances. If you hurt yourself in an act of self-hatred, is this not truly an act of vengeance against God? We are to show thanks and honor to the sovereign God who made us and placed us in our circumstances, no matter what these might be.

Having a healthy sense of self does not mean we deny that we are sinners. Scripture records instances when human beings, having seen the King, the Lord of hosts, are immediately overwhelmed by a consciousness of their utter sinfulness. Witness the terror of the prophet Isaiah: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5). Was Isaiah guilty of self-hatred? No, but Isaiah was overwhelmed by a sense of his depravity when standing before a holy God. Our awareness of God’s holiness makes us feel appropriately wretched. But this sense of clarity regarding who we are and how we compare with an utterly holy God does not need to result in self-destructive hatred of ourselves. Rather, it should point us toward receiving the salvation and forgiveness that God offers us.

God, our savior and Lord, will ultimately deliver us from this body of death (Romans 7:23-24). As a result, we must forget the past and press on to what lies ahead—toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14; Luke 9:62; Hebrews 6:1). We must not get distracted while running the race or be discouraged by inordinate emotions or become warped and twisted by the corrupt values of the world around us. Instead of living on the basis of our emotions or trying to live up to worldly ideals, we must continually live by the word of God and seek to please Him.

We cannot trust our feelings in matters of love and hate, for our sentiments in these things are unreliable. Sorrow that leads to repentance is a good thing, but self-hatred is counter-productive. Just as an athlete must exercise self-control in all things, the saint must not let fleshly self-hatred or its opposite (pride) control him (1 Corinthians 9:24-25). Fleshly self-hatred is worldly, leading to death; but godly sorrow leads to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10). Repentance occurs when we turn away from our sin and toward God (Isaiah 55:6). As unworthy as we are of God’s grace toward us, we must believe Him when He tells us that He forgives our confessed and forsaken sins; indeed, He utterly forgets them (Psalm 103:9 and Isaiah 43:25)!

We must not allow ourselves or our fellows in Christ to be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow (2 Corinthians 2:7). We must quickly forgive ourselves and restore other repentant sinners. Having repented, we must trust God, who is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). We must hate sin, but not hate ourselves, for we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. To continue in a state of self-hatred after we have received the grace God offers us does not honor God and demonstrates a failure to understand the nature and value of the salvation Jesus purchased for us with His blood (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Prophet Nathan Emol

HOW TO AVOID FALSE GUILT:

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Scripture is clear that all humanity is guilty before a holy God. Romans 3 teaches us that there is no person who is righteous and that in the face of a perfect law, all mouths are shut and the whole world lies under judgment (verse 19). Furthermore, John tells us that if we try to say we aren’t guilty of sin, not only do we ourselves lie, but we make God out to be a liar. Guilt in and of itself is not a bad thing; it’s a fact of our fallen existence.

However, when it comes to feeling guilty, we must distinguish between false guilt and true guilt. It is normal to have feelings of guilt when we do something wrong—this is true guilt. But it is also possible to be innocent of something yet feel guilty about it—this is false guilt.

The major difference between false guilt and true guilt is their respective origins. False guilt has at least two possible points of origin: ourselves and the devil. One of the names of the devil in Scripture is “the accuser” (Revelation 12:10). It is a fitting name, as he can and does accuse us to our own minds and consciences. Satan will bring to mind our most horrible sins and cause us to focus on them rather than on God’s forgiveness.

Another possible source of false guilt is our own conscience. The Bible speaks of a “weak conscience” and defines it as a mistaken belief that something innocent is actually sinful (see 1 Corinthians 8:7-13). A weak conscience, then, is basically an uninformed conscience. A person who does not apprehend the freedom he has in Christ may consider things to be sinful which are not sinful at all, and his “weak” conscience can easily produce false guilt.

Then there are those who convince themselves that they’re somehow on permanent “probation” before God. They think that if they’re good enough—if they continually perform at a lofty standard—they’ll earn God’s grudging acceptance. It’s an easy pit to fall into. It can happen when we are more aware of our sin than we are of God’s grace.

True guilt, on the other hand, originates with the Holy Spirit. There are two places in Scripture where this is very clear. Hebrews 12 discusses the “chastisement” or “discipline” of the Lord. The true guilt a believer feels over his sin might be the chastisement of God on a child He loves. His love will not allow us to sin habitually, so He brings conviction. Then, in 2 Corinthians chapter 7, Paul writes about a previous letter he’d sent that apparently caused great distress. In verse 8, he says, “Even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it.” Paul recognized his letter caused the church “grief,” but he identifies their feelings as true guilt. They felt guilty because they were, in fact, guilty.

The cure for true guilt is not just a commitment to “do better.” As C. J. Mahaney says in his excellent little book, The Cross-Centered Life, “It’s impossible to resolve issues of yesterday by doing better tomorrow.” No, getting rid of true guilt requires godly sorrow leading to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10). Once the sin has been repented of, the result is a rejoicing in the grace of God.

False guilt can result in depression and spiritual paralysis. Someone suffering from false guilt may feel that God has given up on him and despair of ever being sanctified. False guilt tends to be very “me-centered,” rather than God-centered. The tendency is to think we’ll never be good enough and focus on our shortcomings.

The cure for false guilt is the gospel. If you’re a Christian, start by confessing any known sin. The promise of God in 1 John 1:9 is for believers: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Remember that, once a sin has been forgiven, it’s forgiven for good. God separates our sin from us “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12).

Also, focus on the grace of God. God’s grace is free, it’s based on Christ’s work on your behalf, and it’s greater than your sin (Romans 5:20). Meditate on Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Preach the gospel to yourself every day, spending time in passages such as Romans 3:19-26 (especially verse 24); Psalm 103:8-13; Romans 4:7-8; Ephesians 1:3-11; and Romans 5:6-11. Meditate on the cross and all it means to you; never think of your sin without also remembering the cross and the grace of God displayed in it.

Finally, in addition to Scripture, let these words from John Newton’s poem “In Evil Long I Took Delight” sink into your soul:

“Thus while His death my sin displays in all its blackest hue,
Such is the mystery of grace, it seals my pardon, too!
With pleasing grief and mournful joy my spirit now is filled,
That I should such a life destroy yet live by Him I killed.

 

Prophet Nathan Emol

OVERTHINKING:

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We overthink when we put too much time into thinking about or analyzing something in a way that is more harmful than helpful. We are overthinking when thoughts about problems, relational issues, and even plans dominate our waking hours. Everyone overthinks occasionally. When we are excited, afraid, worried, or elated, we tend to ruminate on conversations or actions we either participated in or wish we had. We may have seasons of overthinking when we are engaged in a major project, such as building a house or starting a company. The plethora of details that must be addressed consumes our thoughts for a time. Thinking is good, but overthinking can turn a simple matter into an overly complex one.

Certain emotions, such as dread, lead us to overthink more than others do. When an event looms on the horizon that promises to be painful or otherwise unpleasant, we tend to overthink it. Pregnant women sometimes overthink the upcoming labor and delivery experience. They mentally live through the anticipated agony and possible tragic outcomes as a way of “preparing” themselves for it. We can also overthink past events or conflicts, rehashing every syllable or action taken in an effort to process it. Of course, such overthinking does no good; what’s done is done. Introverts are more prone to overthinking than extroverts due to their natural tendency to live inside their own heads.

Our minds are always going. Many of us carry on running conversations inside our heads all day long. Thoughts about one situation overlap thoughts about another, and we return over and over again to the ones that elicit strong emotion. A few people, by design, can successfully compartmentalize their thoughts so that they do not overthink. But most of us will engage in overthinking at times. This is normal, but when it becomes a lifestyle of worry or anxiety, we need to change something.

One way to avoid overthinking a subject is to incorporate Scripture and prayer into one’s thoughts. The psalmists give us excellent examples of this. Psalm 94:19 says, “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.” Many of the psalms were written by overthinkers who were facing danger, emotional unrest, fear, or despair. They boldly wrote out their anxious thoughts and then turned them into the worship of God. Psalm 6 is one such prayer. Verse 6 describes the condition of many who overthink: “I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.” Yet the author, David, does not stop there. The psalm ends with these words: “The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer. All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish; they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame” (verses 9–10).

Satan capitalizes on our inclination to overthink by creating doubts and fears about spiritual things. Some Christians who overthink have difficulty resting in their salvation because they over-analyze their grace-based relationship with God rather than resting in “the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3, KJV). They fear that, if they haven’t thought of everything, God might reject them. This is unhealthy and an example of the fiery darts warned about in Ephesians 6:16. Spiritual overthinkers may scrutinize and dissect a Scripture passage until they convince themselves that they have found a new meaning, one that neither the apostles nor Christian leaders of the past have discovered. Cults and false religions have been founded by overthinking.

Overthinking can be transformed into a positive activity such as healthy meditation, prayer, or Scripture memorization. It is helpful to research specific verses that address overthinking and have them ready when the obsessive thoughts start. Quoting them aloud, purposefully transferring the issue to God, and telling ourselves, “No, I’m going to change my thoughts now,” are all ways we can resist the impulse to overthink. Giving our minds a constructive project also helps keep them away from harmful, obsessive thoughts. Many who struggle with overthinking have poured their energies into creative endeavors such as writing, music, and art and thereby bring beauty from otherwise damaging thinking patterns. Prayer, meditation, and productive outlets for expression can all help relieve the pressure that leads to overthinking.

Prophet Nathan Emol

FINDING PEACE OF MIND:

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Most people would define peace of mind as the absence of mental stress and anxiety. The expression “peace of mind” conjures up images of Buddha-like composure wherein calm, comfort, and composure are so prevalent that nothing can disturb the one who has peace of mind. An imperturbable, placid person is said to have peace of mind. The only time “peace of mind” is found in the Bible is the NIV translation of 2 Corinthians 2:13 where Paul says he found no “peace of mind” because he didn’t find Titus in Troas. The literal translation of this phrase is “rest of my spirit.”

The Bible uses the word peace in several different ways. Peace sometimes refers to a state of friendship between God and man. This peace between a holy God and sinful mankind has been effected by Christ’s sacrificial death, “having made peace through the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:20). In addition, as High Priest the Lord Jesus maintains that state of friendship on behalf of all who continue to “come to God by him, seeing he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). This state of friendship with God is a prerequisite for the second kind of peace, that which sometimes refers to a tranquil mind. It is only when “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1) that we can experience the true peace of mind that is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, in other words, His fruit exhibited in us (Galatians 5:22).

Isaiah 26:3 tells us that God will keep us in “perfect peace” if our minds are “stayed” on Him, meaning our minds lean on Him, center on Him, and trust in Him. Our tranquility of mind is “perfect” or imperfect to the degree that the “mind is stayed on” God rather than ourselves or on our problems. Peace is experienced as we believe what the Bible says about God’s nearness as in Psalm 139:1-12, and about His goodness and power, His mercy and love for His children, and His complete sovereignty over all of life’s circumstances. But we can’t trust someone we don’t know, and it is crucial, therefore, to come to know intimately the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.

Peace is experienced as a result of prayer. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

A peaceful mind and heart are experienced as a result of recognizing that an all-wise and loving Father has a purpose in our trials. “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

God can bring a variety of good things, including peace, from the afflictions that we experience. Even the discipline and chastening of the Lord will “yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness” in our lives (Hebrews 12:11). They provide a fresh opportunity for “hoping in God” and eventually “praising Him” (Psalm 43:5). They help us “comfort” others when they undergo similar trials (2 Corinthians 1:4), and they “achieve for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Peace of mind and the tranquility of spirit that accompanies it are only available when we have true peace with God through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross in payment of our sins. Those who attempt to find peace in worldly pursuits will find themselves sadly deceived. For Christians, however, peace of mind is available through the intimate knowledge of, and complete trust in, the God who meets “all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

Prophet Nathan Emol