Saturday, July 7, 2007

Rediscovering God

Where do we place God in our lives? Do we place Him at the very center of our existence? Or do we put Him at the farthest corners of our hearts and minds? Some sort of a spare tire to be used when the need arises?

When we are in distress, when fear and anxiety beset us, when tons of problems seem to overwhelm us, when we feel that we could not possibly cope with the stressful situation confronting us, who do we seek? Our doctor? Our psychiatrist? Our closest friend? Our spouse? Our parents or any relative we hold near and dear? When do we turn to God for relief? When things start to fall apart and when we completely lose control of the situation? Then afterwards , we blame God for the disaster that befell us, forgetting that it was caused by us in the first place.

The answers to these questions determine how we relate to God. To most of us, God is a far away and distant despot who does not care about us, leave us to our fate and circumstances, who disturbs our peace when we sin and who demands an accounting from us all the time. But when the chips are down, He is nowhere to be found and do not give an iota of concern whatever happens to us. In fact, God is an ever reliable scapegoat for all our troubles and misfortunes in life. But is He?

God said, "Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. They will say of me, 'In the Lord alone are righteousness and strength." (Isaiah 45:22-24a)

He further added, "I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please....What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that will I do." (Isaiah 46:9b-10, 11b)

God is not affected by how we perceived Him to be. He is not changed nor affected by our puny perceptions. He is sovereign. He do as He please. The good news is, He is everything that we could ever think of as good and positive. And He could not contradict His own nature. The bad news (or good news, depending on one's perception) is, He created us with our own free will, and that we have the choice to accept or reject Him. He will never force Himself on us.

There lies the problem. We know that there is a God, but we limit His power over us by our inability to perceive Him as He really is. So we make do with a counterfeit "God" who is capricious, whimsical, moody, revengeful, catankerous, self seeking and avaricious; who expropriates everything for His own glory alone. Pity the people who looks at God this way.

Hosea 4:6a says, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." Wrong perception of God may lead us to our own destruction, and greatly tie up God's hands to help us out of our predicament. The only solution is to know the real God through His words in the Bible.

Jesus Christ shows us the way to the Father. "Jesus answered, I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me." (John 14:6) Also, "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12) You want to know the real GOD? Read your Bible.

Posted by Mel Avila Alarilla

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Hope and Prayers (Are They Antidotes to Depression and Despair?)

This post is dedicated to Amateur Dancer, Marie Coppla, Venice of Unsound Slumber and to all those who are suffering from Bipolar disorders. THERE IS ALWAYS LIGHT AT THE END OF THE DARK TUNNEL.

Yes, we are depressed. Yes, we are desperate. Are there any remedies to these conditions? I wrote this post to tackle the problems of depression and despair among sufferers of bipolar disorders. I do not claim any iota of expertise on this subject matter. In fact, before I came across the term bipolar as I surfed the net, I was blissfully ignorant of it.

Whether depression is a state of the mind or a result of a chemical imbalance of the brain is not the issue here. I leave that to the experts. What I'm after is, how we can alleviate the pain and misery that depression brings to its untold number of victims.

The effects of prolonged depression is catastrophic to the psyche of its victims. It leaves behind a lingering sense of hopelessness and despair that may even trigger a violent tendency towards self destruction. It's like entering a dark tunnel without any hope of ever coming out of darkness into the light. People loses their sense of right or wrong. They are bewildered, totally disoriented and seemingly helpless.

Can hope and prayers overcome depression and despair? With due respect to the medical experts, I say yes. Hope is like seeing a flicker of light in the all pervading darkness of a tunnel.
It gives us a sense of anticipation that finally, as we reach the end of the tunnel, we shall finally see the light of day.

And who gives us this hope? Only God can and will. And we can fan the flames of hope through prayers. "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40:31)

How do you think those early Christians were able to face death with calm and equanimity as they were crucified, mauled by lions and bears, or defenselessly butchered by battle scarred gladiators? They sang songs of praise and worship and even uttered prayers of forgiveness for their tormentors. They were clinging to that glorious hope of a blissful afterlife. "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him." (1Corinthians 2:9) Surely depression, outright insanity and total helplessness would have set in to those who have no hope whatsoever if faced with the same situations.

Today, situations may vary but the results will still be the same. Those who have hope and diligently nurtures it with regular and intense prayers are those who will be able to overcome any obstacles and trials in life, whether they be depression or despair. Unflinching hope and
intense prayers usher us to the very presence of God, where we can pour out all the pains and sorrows welling in our hearts. Did not the Lord admonished us to, "Cast all your anxiety on Him for He cares for you." (1Peter 5:7)

When depression sets in, we must never give it a foothold by lingering on it. We can counteract its effects by claiming the promises of the Lord and through His triumphant Spirit. "Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty." (Zechariah 4:6b) If we persist in prayers, our hopes will be rekindled like a blazing torch that will illuminate the total darkness surrounding us. In God's time, we will receive our most cherished healing and deliverance. PRAY! IT WORKS!

"Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts" (Hebrews 4:7b)


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