Faithful in the Midst

Faith in The Midst of Struggle

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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.

July 18, 2018
Tonya King

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Building Walls

If you are like me, when you get hurt by someone you start to build a wall.  You think to yourself “that person will never hurt me again” and the wall goes up.  My question to you today is “is there a wall between your heart and God?”

Have you or do you feel like God has somehow wronged you?  Do you feel that suffering with your illness is unfair?  I used to feel that way.  I would spend hours in prayer asking God “why me?”  I was so absorbed in feeling like a victim I started to build a wall between my heart and God.  I felt betrayed by God because I felt betrayed by my own mind and had no sense of normalcy in my life.  Many ask how a good God can allow suffering?  We need to remember we live in a fallen world and suffering is part of the consequences of that fall.

But we need not get angry with God for the things that we go through that are difficult and trying.  We must remember that God is our hope and our wholeness.  Without Him we are alone with no hope.  The wall we begin to build to keep ourselves from hurting is the very thing keeping us from getting well.  If we separate ourselves from God and others, we only hurt ourselves and we leave ourselves open to attack from the enemy.  God is our shield and buckler and without His protection, we are vulnerable.  Especially those of us who suffer from a mental illness.  Our minds are our greatest weakness and Satan knows this.  If we come out from under the covering of God, we are unprotected behind enemy lines.

The walls we build for our protection are our greatest hinderances to living under the protective hand of God.  Creating barriers always leads to isolation.  Isolation can lead to depression which feeds into anxiety.  This leaves us open and out there for Satan to run amok in our lives.  We must tear down the walls we have built in order to get well and to regain our trust in our God who loves us and only has our best in mind.  Our illnesses are not punishments.  We do not suffer with them for no reason.  We are to use our sufferings to make others strong and to bring awareness to the difficulties that mental illness brings to a life.  We are also tasked with helping to break down the stigma attached to mental illness.  We cannot do any of this is we blame God and build walls.

Let’s tear down those walls and make a difference in the lives of others who suffer!

July 11, 2018
Tonya King

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Being Well While Being Ill

I have prayed for years for God to heal me of my Bipolar Disorder and although I have not been completely healed, at this point, I am well.  It is possible for someone who is ill to be well.  I know this sounds like an oxymoron, but I would like to unpack this a bit.  Wellness does not necessarily mean physical health. I am referring to wellness that penetrates deep into our souls. Wellness only a close relationship with God can bring.

I have learned over the years, that my being well is completely dependent on having a vibrant and deep relationship with God and being compliant with my medication and therapy.  My wellness is a 3-fold prescription.

In the early days of my diagnosis, I thought I didn’t need medication or therapy.  I felt that God would heal my supernaturally and I would never be bothered by Bipolar Disorder.  Oh, I was so wrong.  I started taking my medication and slowly got better but I questioned God constantly about when He was going to heal me.  I didn’t realize that I could be well without being healed.  My mental state improved, and I began therapy, all the while, still praying for healing.  Now, I am not saying there is anything wrong with praying for healing.  As a matter of fact, I encourage this, but healing is not the end all to end all.  Deepening our relationship with God through our illnesses is most important.

Over the years, I have went through many rough times with my illness.  Many times, I felt defeated and wanted to give up and not fight any longer, but I would always turn to God and get strengthened.  He was always with me.  When I needed to be in the mental hospital, He was there.  All the while making me stronger and healing my spirit.  When I was so depressed, I could not get out of bed, He was there bringing me hope through the Psalms.  When I was so manic that I went on thousand dollars spending sprees, He was there, giving me hope that my mood would level out and I would be well again.

I have been walking this tightrope since I was 17 but I did not turn to God for help until I was officially diagnosed in 2003.  Since then, I have been on a constant road to wellness. Each episode I would go through was painful and frightening, but I would always come out a bit stronger and a bit wiser.  My God has never let me down.  I will always suffer from this disorder.  I see no end and there is no cure, but I can always make the choice to trust God with it, and to know that each day I live symptom free is a gift.  I am well in the deepest part of me, the part that is so dependent on God that I know without Him, I would be dead.  No exaggerating.  I would have taken my own life by now.  But, strength, wholeness, and wellness, even without healing is possible.  It comes down to a choice.  A choice to trust God and to decide to be well despite being ill.