Tag Archive | support

Standing Together

stand.togthr

I had selfish reasons for asking my friend the question. “Is your daughter still dealing with depression?” Truly, I wanted to know if her daughter’s medication was helping her deal with the demands of life. I had been praying for her. But, I also needed to hear how my friend was dealing with her daughter’s mental illness (MI). If she could hang onto her faith, then I’d find renewed confidence in my own faith. An encouraging word from my friend would remind me that God is able to help us in the midst of a very dark time.

Happily, I found that the new medication was helping. What’s more, my friend expressed unwavering faith. Her strong trust in the Lord bolstered my faith.

If she can keep her eyes on the Lord through this trial, I can do likewise.

Godly friends can show us the way to handle great sorrow. When the enemy tries to saturate our soul with fears, they serve as living examples of how it’s possible to rely on God’s peace.

It reminds me of Paul’s inner struggle when he wanted to see his fellow believers in Thessalonica. Satan had been hindering Paul from going to them.

“For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way” (1 Thessalonians 2:18).

Has your child’s MI made you feel like Satan is blocking your way, keeping you from moving on?

How did Paul respond?

“So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them. In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter had tempted you and that our labors might have been in vain” (1 Thessalonians 3:1-5).

He got to the point where he couldn’t bear it any longer.

We can relate to that, can’t we?

What did Paul do? He sent Timothy to go to Thessalonica. He needed to know if his fellow believers had been under similar temptations. He needed to know that their faith remained strong.

Timothy’s encouraging report comforted Paul.

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord (1 Thessalonians 3:7-8).

We gain strength from each other when we stand firm in the Lord. It’s uplifting to hear that a fellow believer has remained strong in the midst of dark trials.

Those of us who have lived many years supporting a child with MI can encourage others who are new in their journey. We can share how God revealed Himself in the midst of trials. And those starting their journey can be encouraged to persevere.

We can relate stories about how God has been true to His promises. And bolster a fellow mom in her faith walk.

We can tell about God’s faithfulness, and others will gain strength to carry on.

We can endure our own trials when we know others are finding strength in the Lord. Because we share the same living God. Who cares for us, helps us, strengthens us, provides for us, protects our children, and comforts us.

We’re connected in raising children with MI. And we’re connected in our faith. We can carry on by encouraging each other in our unwavering faith.

Remember, Paul needed to reach out to fellow believers. And so do we.

Advertisements

Support

Support.W.verse

I’m used to swallowing corn, not vice versa. That’s what it felt like when my feet got sucked into the corn box. We were visiting Port Farms in Waterford, PA with our granddaughter. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to frolic in the corn box with her. The sea of kernels felt like quick sand. As I struggled to stand up, I got pulled deeper into the corn. My eighty-seven year old mother leaned over the rail and helped me stand.

Corn box at Port Farms in Waterford, PA http://www.portfarms.com/

Corn box at Port Farms in Waterford, PA
http://www.portfarms.com/

We all need support from time to time. Moms raising children with mental illness (MI) could use support. But the stigma prevents us from seeking assistance. We’re hesitant to reach out because we fear someone wouldn’t understand. Or worse, we worry we’ll be judged. And then be given unsolicited advice.

Yet, we certainly could use support. Logistically, financial, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Help tending to chores would be appreciated. Advice from someone who truly understands could be useful in making decisions (regarding treatment or mental health care providers). Assistance navigating health benefits would be a relief. Certainly a sympathetic shoulder to cry on would comfort our broken heart.

In thinking about the word ‘support’ I considered Moses. He faced a daunting task leading more than 600,000 people to the Promised Land (Numbers 11:21). He endured years of struggles because his journey continued for decades.  He learned that marathon misery can only be transformed to victory with God’s intervention. Moses witnessed God’s power, longsuffering, and faithfulness.

We can relate to a trial that seems to continue forever. We can identify with Moses’ role in managing everything. Moses was so busy tending to everyone’s needs that he didn’t realize it would lead to burn out. His father-in-law had to point out the obvious. Jethro asked Moses, “‘What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?’

“Moses answered him, ‘Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.’

“Moses’ father-in-law replied, ‘What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone (Exodus 18:14-18).’”

Sound familiar? Your family members come to you with a need and you fill it. “The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone”: did those words hit you like a sledge hammer?

Me? Not able to handle everything alone?

Jethro offered advice. He instructed Moses to, “Select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you (Exodus 18:21-22).”

That wasn’t the only time Moses needed support. When Moses faced the Amelekites, things didn’t go as planned.

Initially, all seemed to go well. Moses disclosed his plan, ordering Joshua to, “‘Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.’

“So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill (Exodus 17:9-10).”

Moses lifted God’s staff for his army to see. But, like many of us, Moses got weary. His arm dropped. That presented a HUGE problem.

“As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning (Exodus 17:11).”

Are you tempted to wonder what would happen if you dropped your heavy load? There’s no shame in needing support.

Moses received support from friends.

“When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword (Exodus 17:12-13).”

Sometimes God uses reliable friends to help us overcome our challenges.

Did you ever notice that you can manage everything until someone complains? That’s the last straw. It was for Moses.

Imagine Moses leading a multitude of people in the wilderness. Think of the logistics. Now picture tons of people lined up at Moses’ tent weeping and complaining. Hear them saying, “We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna (Numbers 11:5-6)!”

That was their version of what we hear from our kids: “We never have any food in the fridge!”

So Moses complained to God asking, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their ancestors? Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin (Numbers 11:11-15).”

Moses was at his wit’s end. He saw no way out and didn’t want to witness his own ruin. The Lord knew Moses needed others to share his burden. So He instructed Moses to, “Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the tent of meeting, that they may stand there with you. I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take some of the power of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them. They will share the burden of the people with you so that you will not have to carry it alone (Numbers 11:16-17).”

Ask God to ease your burden and provide support. What is it you need from Him?

 

 

Need Support

flying buttress
Do you feel like you’re ready to collapse? Like you need to be supported by flying buttresses to remain standing.

Life that includes a loved one with serious mental illness (MI) can knock you off your feet. You regain your balance and resume your walk through mundane tasks. Then, BAM! Some bazaar behavior or unexpected comment hits you. Once again, the wind is knocked out of you. Time of prayer restores the pep to your step.

Along comes another whack. This time, it’s a diagnosis (or MISdiagnosis) or a blunt recommendation made by a specialist (who seems to have no clue what you’re going through). Blindsiding you. Like you’ve been demolished by a Mack Truck. Making you an emotional wreck. As if your feelings got churned up a meat grinder.

Weary from it all, it gets harder and harder to stand on your own two feet. Does that describe your life?

How can we go on when life hits us from all directions? When we’re too worn out to even stand.

Last week, President Obama spoke about getting knocked down. On April 18, 2013 he gave a message at the interfaith memorial service in Boston. He said, “Like Bill Iffrig, 78 years old — the runner in the orange tank top who we all saw get knocked down by the blast — we may be momentarily knocked off our feet, but we’ll pick ourselves up. We’ll keep going. We will finish the race.”

Pick yourself up. Just keep going. Sounds easy enough. Not so!

Moms who have a child with MI may need support. We need human buttresses—people to come along side us. Loved ones who will keep us from crumbling under the pressure.

Years ago, I worked as a Bible instructor at a Christian camp for handicapped children. One adolescent camper, Bruce, was huge in stature. His large physique was exceeded only by his big smile. The joy of the Lord lit up his face.

His mental retardation didn’t prevent him from memorizing hymns—every verse and chorus. His beautiful voice drew you into his world…a world where intellectual abilities are irrelevant. A world where rejoicing reigns supreme. Anyone who joined Bruce in his world of praise experienced his heavenly serenity.

Yes, Bruce could sing. But, he couldn’t roller skate. He needed support to stay erect on skates. The first year, it took six strong camp counselors to hold him up. He crept along like a floating tree powered by human training wheels. Skating ever so slowly. Inch by inch.

The next year, he needed only five supporters. The third year, it took only four. Eventually, he was down to only one helper. Then, it came. That moment of victory. The helper let go. Bruce stood on his own!

That’s a picture of what God will do for you. He’ll send human buttresses. His people to support you. As many as you need. For as long as you need them. Until you can stand on your own.

Or, He alone will miraculously help you move forward. He promises you, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:10, 13

Sometimes, it’s in the power of Christ alone that we can stand. Let those words minister to you as you listen to “In Christ Alone.”