Faithful in the Midst

Faith in The Midst of Struggle

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March 27, 2019
Tonya King

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Judging Harshly

I was having my prayer time with God the other day and I was talking to Him as I always do, and I brought up the fact that I am a bit judgmental.  I asked for forgiveness for that flaw and the Lord clearly impressed upon me this thought…

“the persons we judge most harshly are the people we need to pray for most fiercely and that person may be ourselves”.

Wow.  I had to sit and think about that for a few minutes. I do judge myself harshly and I do not pray for myself all that much.  I am in intercessor and I pray for those whom God places on my heart. I pray all the time.  I pray in the grocery store, in the car, in my kitchen, in my prayer room, basically everywhere. But the subject of my prayer is rarely myself.

This thought niggled at me all day.  Why do I judge myself so harshly?  One reason… I feel like a bit of a failure because I am unable to do simple things that others take for granted because of my illness.  I cannot work, I cannot handle a lot of stress, whether good or bad, I do not react well to time changes so that means I cannot travel.  There are many things that I just cannot do, and I judge myself based on these things, on the “cannot’s”.  Do you do the same thing?  I am sure you do. We all do.  And I found that people who do not have a mental illness judge themselves on the cannot’s of life as well.  So, what does God ask us to do? Pray.

We need to be praying for ourselves. We need to be praying for self-acceptance.  For the ability to stop looking at the “cannot’s” in our lives and focus on the “cans”.  We are able to do more than we give ourselves credit for.  We are special in the eyes of the Lord.  We are not “less than” to Jesus.  So why do we beat ourselves up?   I think part of it is the stigma associated with mental illness.  In society, we are already judged, regardless of who we are, but because of our illness.  Society says that we are not acceptable as we are. That somehow, we should change.

We listen to these false truths, which are nothing more than lies of the enemy, and we judge.  I think it is high time we start praying.  We need to call down the authority of God into our lives to dispatch the enemy from our minds. Prayer is powerful!  Prayer changes things! We need to be praying for ourselves and to stop judging ourselves so harshly. We are perfect in eyes.

We need to see ourselves as he sees us…beautiful, treasured, sacred, His.

March 21, 2019
Tonya King

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Set Apart

So many times, during the up’s and downs of my illness, I would say “I wish I was normal”.  Being normal (without symptoms, without stigma) was a goal I sought after.  I didn’t like feeling different from everyone else and I was ashamed that I had an illness that I could not control.  I didn’t want to tell anyone about my diagnosis because I didn’t want them to think about me differently.  But it was obvious to all around me that I was different.

Early on in my diagnosis, I would search Scripture on healing.  Being healed was my number one priority.  But, while searching the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit kept drawing me to verses that told of Jesus’s story and how he was different.  Jesus didn’t fall into the norm of His day.  He stuck out.  He did not try to conform to the world, He stayed separate.  He was in the world but not of the world.  So, if Jesus wasn’t “normal” why should I strive to be “normal” as defined by the world?

Well the answer is “I should not”.  I began to realize that Bipolar Disorder was my cross to bear.  I didn’t ask for it, but we all have something.  My illness set me apart from the world and yours does too.

We tend to view ourselves as “less than” but really, we’re special.  God allowed our illnesses to set us apart and to make a change in this world concerning mental illness.  We as Christians who suffer have a platform to bring about change as to how we are treated.  We can tell all that God is our strength and hope and that, like Jesus, we are not the norm because we are not supposed to be. Christians without mental illnesses are also set apart from this world, to be a light in the darkness.

So, on one hand, we are special because we are different, and on the other, we are special because we are like Jesus, made in His image! Set apart for a purpose.  I suppose you could say that we are fortunate because our illnesses send us to the feet of Jesus for strength to overcome. Maybe, having a mental illness is what brings us closer to God and for that we can be thankful.  I am not sure I would be as close to Jesus as I am without carrying this burden.  Being healed would be terrific but, as long as I have Bipolar, I will stop striving for normal and stay in the realm of special, just like Jesus!

 

March 17, 2019
Tonya King

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Worry and Worship

For most of my life, I’ve been a worrier.  I would worry about finances, my children’s health, my husband being far away in the military, and just about every other thing under the sun. I don’t know if my worry is a product of my illness or if I am just a worrier by nature.  Either way, it has caused me a great deal of anxiety and needless sleepless nights.

My worry really kicked into gear when the 911 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center occurred.  My husband was in the military at that time and he called and told me he was going to war and didn’t know anything else.  Oh my, what a day.  I had to pull myself together enough to tell our four children who were 12, 10, 7, and 4 at the time that we were at war and Daddy was going to fight. Try explaining to a four-year-old about war.  Not an easy nor enviable task.  This time frame ushered in a slew of symptoms I was not equipped to handle. My life became out of control.  My worry became a beast that colored my days.  Fear became a constant companion.

I was not serving the Lord at this time, which I can say only made the situation worse.  I didn’t know where to turn for help.  I was treated for depression which made the worry all the worse because it caused me to go manic. Now I was worried and manic.  It is a wonder I survived.

Fast forward to 2003.  My husband is home, my children are back to a normal life and my illness is raging!  My husband, poor guy, didn’t know what to think. He only knew I was not the same woman he left.  My worry was out of control.  I worried when he would go to the recruiting office for fear it would be bombed.  I worried when my children went out fearing they were somehow targets for enemy attack.  I worried about myself that I was going to implode at any time. This was the time I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.  That same time, the Lord met me in my deepest, darkest place.  He gently brought me out of my place of despair and filled me with a hope I had not had in decades.  He also spoke this to my heart… “worry and worship cannot exist in one heart. One has to go”.  I understood immediately that my worry habit was causing my heart to be divided. I needed to make a change.

I chose to worship.  And, you know what? My worry lessened. I was no longer controlled by my out of control emotions.  God was setting me upon a rock and my life was beginning to take shape in Him. It took years of prayer, medication, and therapy to get myself to a place where I no longer worried about things.  I realized I have no control over what happens, but God is in control, at all times, of all things.  Whew! What a relief to finally know and know for certain that my worry will not change things. It will only cause me anxiety and stress which fuels my illness.  The Lord has faithfully and methodically delivered me from worry.  It took some time, but I can honestly say, I no longer worry.  If I am concerned with a situation, I take it to God, leave it with Him and go about my business.  I have never been more at ease.

My husband and my family are ever so grateful to God for giving them back the wife and mother they once had. And I am so grateful that He has brought me through, stronger and He will do the same for you.  You need but ask.

February 28, 2019
Tonya King

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We Are Blessed to be A Blessing

We Are Blessed to be a Blessing

So many times, we forget that we are blessed.  Yes, we suffer from a mental illness but that does not negate God’s blessings on our lives.  Every day that we wake up and have the wherewithal to go through the day feeling well is a blessing. Each small victory we have is a blessing.  Each time we can touch another with our story is a blessing.  God is blessing us in so many ways that sometimes we can take that for granted.  We need to be more aware of the way God is blessing us, so we can be a blessing to others.

Being a blessing to others is not complicated.  We do not have to stretch ourselves too much to brighten someone’s day.  A simple smile and cheerful hello could be all that person needs to give them something to smile about.  Sending someone a card telling them you care and are praying for them would be a blessing to them.  It’s so easy and simple things can bring the biggest blessing.

But not only will doing things for others bring them blessings, these blessings get multiplied back to you.  You will never regret blessing someone.  A few weeks ago, I was asked to bring dinner to a family whose husband had a stroke.  The family lived quite a ways from me and taking them dinner was going to be a strain on my time.  I had to shop for the ingredients, assemble and bake the casserole, put it into a travel bag and drive the 45 minutes to their home.  All on a Friday night when my family was over and wanting dinner as well.  I obeyed God in this and I was thoroughly blessed when I saw the thankfulness on their faces.  It was a simple act of obedience on my part that brought me a huge blessing and I am so glad I obeyed.

See, simple things bring blessings.  We do not have to complicate this.  God blesses us, so we can bless others.  I know that sometimes the hardest thing we do in a day is getting out of bed.  Days are dark, tiring and anxiety that builds so much we are frozen in fear.  These are the times we need a blessing.  God says you reap what you sow.  If you have been a blessing to others, God will have others be a blessing to you right when you need it.  He will send blessings your way at just the right time.  Remember we are blessed so we can be a blessing and others will then be a blessing to us.

February 20, 2019
Tonya King

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The Lion of the Tribe of Judah

When I think of Jesus my mind tends to focus on His sacrifice as the “lamb of God”.  He is referred to the “Lamb of God” twice in the Old Testament, but many times in the New Testament – 29 times, primarily in Revelation.  But there is another name which Jesus is known as – “The Lion of the Tribe of Judah”.

Revelation 5:5 refers to Jesus as the “Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David who has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals”.  When I think of a lion, I picture a majestic, strong, fierce animal.  I also think of loyalty and royalty as well.  Can you see Jesus as a fierce, loyal lion?  Does the image of a lion, rippling with strength and might come to your mind or do you always imagine Jesus as the lamb?

There are days when I am hurting and in need of the strength of Jesus to pull me up and out of the pit.  In those times I picture Jesus as the lion who has come to save me from myself and the attacks against my mind.  In Revelation 19:11-16 Jesus is described as the rider of the white horse called “Faithful and True”. “His eyes were like a fiery flame and many crowns were on his head. He had a name written that no one knows except himself. He wore a robe dipped in blood and his name is called the Word of God” (CSB).  This description does not conjure up the image of a lamb in my mind.

Yes, Jesus was the lamb who took away the sins of the world and He was crucified and resurrected, but He is coming back as a lion who will destroy the enemy forever.  I need to focus on this aspect of Jesus because there are times when my illness requires the strength of a lion to overcome its debilitating effects and to set my feet back on the rock.  I am sure you feel this same despair at times, and you look to Jesus for your strength.  It is comforting to know that He is as fierce as a lion and ready to fight for you whenever you call on Him.  He is the source of our strength.  He is our comforter and healer and he is the lion who fights for us.

There are times when I love to think of Jesus as my shepherd, or the lamb of God especially when I am reading the Psalms. But the image of the lion imbibes me with strength.  I am a lioness and my Lord is the lion of the tribe of Judah and He will always defend and protect me and through all trials!

I have a picture of a white lion in my prayer room that is a constant reminder of the strength and loyalty of Jesus. It is a beautiful image and I look at and am in awe of who Jesus is to me.  The next time you are tempted to think there is no one on your side and that you are fighting this battle against your illness alone, remember that Jesus is the Lion who will fight your battle for you. You need only lay down at His feet and allow His power and fierceness to defeat your enemies. He is the “lamb of God” and He is also the “Lion of the Tribe of Judah” and whether you need a shepherd or a warrior, Jesus is both and all that you need.

January 29, 2019
Tonya King

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Seeking Refuge

This morning I was reading in Psalms 17 and verse 7 jumped out at me. It’s a Psalm of David asking God to protect him from his enemies.  During his prayer, he addressed Jesus as the “Savior of all who seek refuge”.  This spoke to me in a powerful way.

I’ve always known Jesus was my Savior, but I never really thought about the fact that, He is Savior to all who seek refuge in Him.  How many times have we tried to find refuge rom our illnesses and the complications these illnesses bring to our lives in our own power?  We think “I can do this.  I’m stronger than these symptoms and I can take care of this on my own”. I know that when I was first diagnosed in 2003, that is exactly how I thought.  I felt that the diagnosis was completely wrong and that I didn’t have Bipolar. I promptly went out to live my life proving to everyone that I was fine, and I did not need anyone to help me, because I wasn’t ill.  Well, that lasted about two weeks before it became very apparent that I, indeed, was quite ill.  But did I cry out to Jesus for refuge?  Nope. I went about acting as if I was the savior of my own life and I, alone, had control over everything.  As you can guess, that didn’t work very well either.

It wasn’t until I started seeking Jesus as my refuge that I started to turn the corner into wellness.  I am embarrassed to say that this revelation that I needed Jesus to bring healing and comfort to my exhausted mind took a few years. Yep…years!  But, as soon as I began to seek refuge in Him, everything changed.  I still had dark days. I still had manic episodes. But my perspective had changed.  I knew that without Jesus as my refuge, I would just be out there in the wind of my own mind, flailing. I couldn’t live that way.

The most wonderful part of this Psalm is that is says “all” who seek refuge.  This includes, well, all.  Jesus doesn’t bring some refuge or bring refuge to those most deserving. No, he said all.  This should bring great comfort to everyone who feels that they are unworthy of this kind of love.  I know we often feel, because of our illnesses, we are undeserving, discounted, and pushed to the fringes, and a lot of times, we convince ourselves this will never change.  But Jesus is faithful and if we seek refuge, He will give it.  How many of us just need a rest?  A break forms the endless struggle to gain a sense of normalcy in our lives.  Well, Jesus is inviting us to come and rest in Him.  He is our refuge. He loves us. He is for us. So, when we feel as if we cannot take one more step, we need to get on our knees and simply seek Him.  Our refuge lies in Him and Him alone.

January 17, 2019
Tonya King

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Can God be Trusted?

Have you ever felt that you cannot trust God with your illnesses?  I have.  When I was first diagnosed, I would question God as to why I had been the unlucky one to have Bipolar Disorder.  I felt it wasn’t fair and that if God allowed me to have this, clearly, He could not be trusted.  I think we all think something along these lines at one point or another.  How could I trust a God who would allow such a thing to darken my life and the lives of those I loved?  I felt fatalistic, as if I was never going to get better and the pain that I felt would never go away. I felt betrayed.  Why God why?  Was I ever going to be well enough to return to my normal life?

I was asking this question to everyone but God.  I would cry to my husband about how unfair having this illness was and how it ruined my life and at the time, I truly believed this.  I couldn’t see past the pain.  Everyone started treating me different.  All those who knew we well, knew that our relationships were going to change.  I even lost friends when they found out I had a mental illness.  It wasn’t until much later that I decided to have a sit down with God and hash all this out.

I got on my knees and I got very raw with God.  I yelled and I cried, and I told God just how I felt about Him allowing this illness into my life.  I told Him how everyone looked at me differently.  How I could no longer work and how dreams I had for my future were now dashed into pieces. I told Him how my family was affected.  How my kids were struggling to understand, how I was struggling to understand.  Once I stopped telling God about my victimization, He began talking to me.  I sensed in my spirit that God entrusted this illness to me because He could bring good out of it.  I knew He was going to use my illness to bring me closer to Him than I had ever been, and He was going to use my experiences to help others facing the same struggle.

Fast forward several years, many tears and much suffering and healing and we have today.  Now I am in, what I call, remission.  God has been faithful to bring me into a place of wholeness so that I can now help others.  That is why “Faithful in the Midst Ministries” exists.  To help those who suffer from mental illness to find their way to God and to seek His healing touch on their lives.  I hope, that as I blog, you feel free to send me an email and let me know how I can pray for you and help you find God in the midst of your suffering.  I am here for you.