5 Things To Help You Overcome Depression

Mental Health Awareness Month takes place the entire month of May, and the theme this year is “You are not alone.”

For those who struggle with depression, overcoming it is not as simple as others might think.

There are those who might say, “Everyone gets depressed. Just get over it,” or, “If you really wanted to be happy, then you would be,” but they don’t realize that overcoming depression does not come so easily as simply wishing for it to happen. As someone who has struggled with forms of depression and who has many family members who have as well, I’ve seen and experienced the difficulty in trying to force yourself to “be happy” even though you feel sad, heartbroken, abandoned, and alone. It often results in burying emotions that need to be worked through and addressed only for them to rise again later and leave you more broken and shattered than before. Forced healing is not lasting healing.

Because May is mental health awareness month, I’ve decided to share with you and those who are struggling five things that have helped me in the process of overcoming feelings of depression. Of course, this post may not be entirely applicable to those who are suffering from severe or clinical depression. If you or someone you know is suffering from clinical depression, please know that there is no shame in reaching out for help, receiving support from a psychiatrist, or asking for prayer. Depression is nothing to be ashamed of because, yes, many people do suffer from various forms of depression and feelings of sadness to varying degrees.

“Forced healing is not lasting healing.”

Instead of trying to ignore or bury those feelings, here are five things you might try to help you begin the process of overcoming it:

1. Listen to music.

Now, some of these tips may seem basic, but just hear me out. When I’ve struggled with depression, almost every single time, I’ve managed to find comfort and feel God’s presence through new Gospel songs I found. One song in particular that spoke to me when I was struggling was “Defender” by Francesca Battistelli.

Listening to music, or music therapy, has proven calming effects that can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. When one listens to music, be it instrumental or soothing music, it can help that person experience his or her emotions on a deeper, more visceral level. It may even help clear the mind and make one’s emotions easier to understand.

Just any music doesn’t prove helpful to me, however, which is why I encourage listening to Christian music. As Christians, we understand that our help comes from God, but when we’re struggling with caring for our mental and emotional health, it sometimes becomes necessary to plug into other avenues that help us connect better to His presence. Don’t just listen to the music, but meditate on it. Find new songs that speak to what you’re going through and let yourself praise Him as you listen.

2. Listen to sermons.

We listen to messages over the pulpit every week, but sometimes, it helps to search for an extra word from God throughout the week when we’re feeling overwhelmed with sadness or anxiety. God can minister to us today even through an old message posted to YouTube five or more years ago. One such sermon that I heard when I was struggling and that I’ve returned to often is Victor Jackson’s message at General Conference 2019 called “The Forgotten Anointing.” For those who are weary and full of grief, this message may just be the word from God that will help you begin to heal.

Whether you search for sermons based on what you’re going through or by a preacher you’re familiar with, consider taking notes while listening to the sermon. Write down how God might be speaking to you through the message and ways you can apply it to your life moving forward.

3. Do focused Bible studying.

This one might seem like another no-brainer to those who study the Word consistently, but doing some focused Bible studying is a great way to work through what you’re experiencing by researching it in the Scriptures.

When I found myself in a dark place once, I realized the one thing that might help me get through it was if I could just feel the comfort of God again. So, I began doing a word search for “comfort” in my phone’s Bible app that contains the Strong’s Concordance. As I read verse after verse and studied the original Hebrew meanings of “comfort,” I immediately felt God’s presence. By the next morning, the heavy burden of grief and sorrow that had weighed me down had lifted immensely.

Doing some focused Bible studying on key terms or events in the Bible can help you understand the biblical approach to what you’re experiencing and will take you closer to the presence of God.

4. Get (and stay) involved in church.

It’s natural to want to take a step back from responsibilities at church or even not to want to attend a service or two when you’re struggling with depression, but it’s when you’re struggling that you need that foundation and consistency in your life the most.

Find new ways to get involved in ministry or new ways to use the gifts God has given you for His Kingdom. Go to every service. Continue worshipping God in the worship service and at the altar call. Attend special events or services. Keep in touch with your pastor and church family.

Although it may be difficult and you may feel at times as though you have to put on a smile and pretend you’re okay, the consistency of fellowshipping with the people of God and serving in His Kingdom is one of the most important steps in overcoming depression. The consistency and strong foundation that come with being involved in church bring much needed comfort and peace when you’re going through turbulent times or spiritually dry periods.

5. Do fun things.

Depression can make you feel as though you’re barely surviving and are unable to enjoy even the simplest parts of life, but don’t stop trying to find positive and uplifting things that can make you feel a little less sad for a little while.

Listen to music as we already explored above, or go out to breakfast or lunch with family or friends. Go for a walk at a park. Read a book. (If you need some reading inspiration, stay tuned for next week’s post when I’ll share some book ideas for your summer reading list!) Take a short trip on a day off and go to the lake or hiking or for a simple country drive. Write down your thoughts in a journal.

Whatever you do, do something that takes your mind off your stress and grief and pain if only for a moment and bask in that moment of relief. Every little moment of peace adds up, and eventually, you might find yourself going from feeling sad to being just okay to finally realizing that you are and can be happy in your life in spite of what you’ve gone through.

Overcoming depression is not an easy process and does not look the same for everyone. If you find yourself struggling harder with overcoming depression, try the above tips that have helped me.

Remember that our God is a God of peace. We can find the comfort we need in His presence and in the presence of our church family. Even though you may feel alone, you are not alone. You can overcome depression and be stronger than you were before.

“And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.”

Deuteronomy 31:8 (KJV)

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Hebrews 4:16 (KJV)

How to Overcome Self-Condemnation: Appealing to the Mercy of God

A man seeks God's forgiveness in prayer.

Sometimes when you make a mistake, the hardest part of forgiveness is forgiving yourself. If you’re like me, you might tend to beat yourself up for mistakes you’ve made, mulling over them at night and asking yourself how you could be so stupid. Self-condemnation completely hinders the process of forgiveness.

When we make a mistake, we must ask God for his mercy and strive to resist temptation and live according to His Word, but sometimes our own thoughts can make it much harder to feel forgiven when we imprison ourselves in our own guilt. What we forget in those moments is how much God truly loves us. In order for us to move forward with peace and in confidence, knowing that He has forgiven us, we must recognize His love for us and that His mercy has no end.

Two examples in His Word show us what it means to appeal to God’s mercy.

When Lot and his family escaped Sodom and Gomorrah, he asked God to save a nearby city so that they might flee to it and be saved.

“Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die: Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live. And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken. Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.”

Genesis 19:19-22 (KJV)

One of the first things Lot said to God was a reminder that God had granted Lot grace and that He had “magnified [His] mercy” by saving Lot’s life. When Abraham went to God to try to convince Him not to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, he appealed to God’s justice, asking if God would destroy the “righteous with the wicked” (see Genesis 18:23). Abraham did not succeed in his intercession for Sodom and Gomorrah, but Lot succeeded in his intercession for Zoar by appealing first to the grace and mercy of God when he was in danger and needed to be saved.

In the New Testament, Jesus told a parable of humility and mercy when comparing the Pharisee to the publican.

“Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican…. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.”

Luke 18:10-11, 13 (KJV)

In this parable, the publican acknowledged his sinfulness and asked that God would show him mercy. He showed humility and an understanding of his own faults and need for a Savior.

These examples remind us to appeal to God’s mercy when we are facing difficulties and when we need forgiveness. Lot appealed to God’s mercy when he needed salvation from circumstances. The publican appealed to God’s mercy when he needed salvation from sin. Neither Lot nor the publican were perfect men, but in Lot’s case and in the parable of the publican, both men were sincere in their appeals, and God showed them His mercy. When we make a mistake and ask for forgiveness, we’re stating that we cannot make it on our own. Our appeal to God’s mercy becomes a declaration that we need Him.

Messing up again and again is human nature. God knows this. Of course, our human nature is not an excuse to sin, but rather it is a reminder that we need Him in order to resist temptation and receive forgiveness.

God is just and faithful to forgive of us our sins as His Word says in 1 John 1:9.

What these accounts remind me of is how much He wants to forgive us. Our God longs for us to surrender to Him and serve Him in righteousness and sincerity, and when we do, then He will forgive us of our sins. We need not walk in guilt and self-condemnation because He already paid the price for our sins and freed us from guilt and shame.

We can overcome guilt and self-condemnation by appealing to God’s mercy, by recognizing our flaws and inadequacies, and by understanding that it is only through the grace, love, and mercy of our Savior that we move forward and walk in confidence with Him. Self-condemnation will keep us from accepting His forgiveness, but the self-realization of our weaknesses and His great love for us keeps us under His blood and walking in newness of life.

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Post Schedule Announcement:

Lots of things are coming up as my schedule will be getting busier over the upcoming weeks, so posts will be on Fridays only until further notice.

I’ve seen there are some newer readers and subscribers to Breathe Pray Repeat, so I also want to say “welcome,” and I pray these posts bless you and encourage you to get closer to God as you seek Him more and study His Word.

If you have any post or Bible study requests, don’t hesitate to comment below or send me a message and let me know! God Bless!

5 Scriptures for When You’re Hurting

A woman dealing with grief

When you’re in pain, sometimes there are no words that can adequately describe what you’re going through.

Whether it’s a physical pain or emotional pain, that feeling of hurt can reach so deeply that it stretches far past the limits of your vocabulary.

People may ask, “How are you feeling?”

And you don’t know what to say. You may not even be exactly sure how you feel.

But we have a Savior who knows our hurt better than anyone. We have a God who experienced physical and emotional pain and who understands grief, hurt, anger, and suffering. We have a Comforter whose words are the only ones that can stretch past the limits of our vocabulary, reach into the deepest trenches of our anguish, and ease the burden of pain and sadness.

If you’re struggling with hurt, here are five Scriptures from His Word that offer an encouraging perspective:

“My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.”

Psalms 73:26 (KJV)

“He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.”

Psalms 147:3 (KJV)

“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”

Matthew 5:4 (KJV)

“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

1 Peter 5:7 (KJV)

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

Revelation 21:4 (KJV)

God is our strength when our heart fails and our body cannot carry us any further.

He is the Healer of our heart and the Mender of our brokenness.

We are blessed even in our mourning. For when we are in pain and sorrow, He comforts us.

When it’s too much for us to bear, we can surrender all our grief and despair to Him because our God truly cares for us. If it matters to us, it matters to the Master! He knows the pain we’re feeling even when we can’t put it into words or understand it ourselves.

And when our pain seems to overwhelm us, He reminds us of the promise that one day, our God Himself will wipe all tears of sorrow from our eyes, and we will no longer feel any more sadness, grief, or pain.

Just a little bit longer, and we’ll be with our King in eternal joy and freedom forever!

“There’ll be no sorrow there, no more burdens to bear, no more sickness, no more pain, no more parting over there; And forever I will be, with the One who died for me, what a day, glorious day that will be.”

“What a Day That Will Be” by Jim Hill

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Schedule Update: There will be no blog post this Friday.

If you’d like to read more about Scriptures on comfort, check out this post from my series on studying comfort in the Bible.

2 Reminders For When You’re Dealing with Stress or Imposter Syndrome

Matthew 19:26 in the King James Bible.
Matthew 19:26 reminds us that all things are possible with God!

Do you ever feel as though you’re the camel carrying the basket of straw about to burst and that the straw that will break your back is only moments away?

I am not enough.

You might say this silently to yourself or to God in prayer as you wearily reflect on all the things you have to do and your limited abilities.

I can’t do this.

It’s true.

You are not enough…on your own. You can’t do this alone.

When I’m struggling with imposter syndrome, worrying people may realize how inadequate I am, or when the stress of life weighs me down, here are 2 reminders that give me strength to carry on:

1. Everything I do I must do for Jesus to the best of my ability.

“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.”

Colossians 3:23-24 (KJV)

Imposter syndrome causes a person to feel like a fraud, doubting his or her own abilities or accomplishments. I’ve struggled with this often, but each time I do, God reminds me that it doesn’t matter what others may think of what I can or can’t do or of what I have or have not accomplished. What matters is that no matter what I do, I must do it wholeheartedly for His glory.

Whether it’s your work or ministry, as long as you keep your focus on God and direct your efforts and attention toward Him, then you will be able to overcome feelings of doubt and inadequacy.

2. All things are possible with God.

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

Philippians 4:13 (KJV)

When you have a heavier load than usual, it can seem impossible to get everything done. On our own, we cannot fulfill each of our duties and maintain peace of mind, but with God, we can do all things because He is our strength.

Sometimes, life presents us with seemingly impossible tasks. But God has equipped us with all we need to do all He’s called us to do.

God has given us everything we need to live in this world according to His Word—Himself.

When we become worried about failure or inadequacies, we must put our focus on Him.

Redirecting our focus to Jesus reminds us what this is all for and why we’re here. It’s for Him. We work, go to school, and survive in this world to support the Kingdom and become stronger members of the Kingdom. He gave each of us unique abilities and placed us in specific locations to serve Him and His Kingdom.

We are enough to our God!

When we serve God and give ourselves and abilities to Him, He makes up the difference in our lives. We may have the weight of the world on our shoulders, but He’s got the whole wide world in His hands.

3 Scriptures to Speak Over Anxiety

Anxiety

What will the future hold?

That’s a question we often ask ourselves when life seems more uncertain than usual.

Bills pile up. We’re saving for trips, home maintenance, or a new home or car. We’ve got work and school responsibilities, or we’re in need of a job or financial blessing. It seems we often waste our days away in nervous expectancy for what won’t or could happen. But that’s not what God wants for us.

Anxiety can absolutely consume our thoughts and affect our physical health. I sometimes get more stressed just thinking about stress, and then I try to put away all those things causing me anxiety, which causes me more stress because I know they’re still out there.

For those who struggle with anxiety, overcoming our worries often involves a process of reminding ourselves throughout each day that God knows what we’re going through and has a plan for us. He is our Provider and Comfort.

If you’re battling anxiety, here are 3 passages of scripture to study and speak over your fears so that the Lord can calm the troubled thoughts within your busy mind and speak peace over the storm in your life:

(8) I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.
(9) Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.
(10) Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about.
~Psalms 32:8-10 (KJV)

(3) Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
(4) Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:
~Isaiah 26:3-4 (KJV)

(6) Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
(7) And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
~Philippians 4:6-7 (KJV)

Our God has a plan for each of us. He is faithful, and He never fails.

No matter what you’re facing, rest assured that He is right there with you.

He will guide you.

He will keep you.

He will give you peace.

Comfort in The New Testament Part Two: A Brief Analysis

When I drive through Springfield, Missouri, I see a sign on East Sunshine that says, “Love God, love people—on purpose.”

Two basic commands in life are to love God and to love our fellow man. We love God because He first loved us, and with the love of God in us, we are able to love others. I believe this applies to other acts of love, such as comfort.

Last week, we covered how “comfort” in the New Testament relates to the theme that we have hope in Jesus because He calls us near to Him. This theme continues throughout the New Testament. 2 Corinthians 7:6 says, “Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus.” “Comforteth” comes from the Greek word parakaleō, which as you may recall from last week’s post means “to call near.” “Cast down” translates from the Greek word tapeinos (pronounced “tap-i-nos’”), which means “depressed, humiliated (in circumstances or disposition), of low degree (estate), lowly.” We know we are an unworthy and lowly people, and we are often in despair, but God calls the lowly near to Him.

Romans 15:4-5 (KJV)

4 “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus.”

Paul is telling the Christians of the church of Rome that the Word of God was written to teach and instruct us in the doctrine. Here, “learning” in Greek is didaskalia, which means “instruction, doctrine, or teaching.” In fact, he says the endurance and constancy (which is from hupomonē, the Greek word for patience in this verse) and the comfort of the Scriptures gives us hope or confidence (according to the translation of hope in the Greek, which is elpis). In the next verse, Paul calls God the “God of patience and consolation.” Since God is the Word and the Word is with and is God, both He and His Word literally are our source of comfort and hope. And that source of comfort and hope endures forever. No matter what we may go through, we are never without the comfort of God and hope within His Word. But the comfort of God and the hope we have because of His comfort is not the only theme that accompanies this word in the New Testament.

Just as the love of God helps us love others, God comforts us so that we can comfort others.

2 Corinthians 1:3-6 (KJV)

3 “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;

4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth in Christ.

6 And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.”

God is our Father Who comforts us in every troublesome situation. Here, “comforteth” again means “to call near.” When burdens, trials, and afflictions persecute us, God calls us near to Him. However, He comforts us so that we might be able to receive strength from and confidence in Him as well as comfort others. We may suffer for striving to live righteously, but God gives us an excess of consolation. “Abound” and “aboundeth” here come from the Greek perisseuo, which means “to be in excess, abundance, to increase, and to remain.” Paul and the early church suffered greatly for serving Christ. My Apostolic Study Bible says this about this passage: “Paul and the church at Corinth had shared in Christ’s sufferings. God’s merciful deliverance of Paul from his tribulation served as an encouragement to the Corinthians that He would deliver them also.” When we suffer, we do so for the cause of Christ. Though our sufferings are in abundance, so is God’s comfort and mercy. He delivered Paul from difficulty to encourage others in the same way that He still delivers us today to encourage others. We experience difficulty and the comfort of the Lord so that we can learn how to be a comfort to others in their time of difficulty. So, not only do we receive comfort from God, but we receive comfort from one another.

On numerous occasions, the Lord commands His people through the apostles to comfort each other. In 1 Thessalonians chapter 4, the apostle Paul instructs the church at Thessalonica to comfort each other with the promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ:

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 (KJV)

16 “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

Again, “comfort” here comes from parakaleō. Another meaning of this word is “to exhort,” which means to encourage someone. In the Apostolic Study Bible, the notes for these verses discuss the church’s responsibility to “offer encouragement and comfort to those who are grieving,” for “the return of Christ means we do not need to grieve as those who are hopeless.” The next chapter contains two more commands to comfort:

1 Thessalonians 5:11, 14 (KJV)

11 “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.”

We comfort one another by building up each other. “Edify” from the Greek word oikodomeō (pronounced “oy-kod-om-eh’-o”) means “to construct or (figuratively) confirm, build (up), embolden.” In verse 14, “comfort” comes from the Greek word paramutheomai (“par-am-oo-theh’-om-ahee”), which means “to relate near, that is (by implication), encourage, console.” These verses and the verses that follow contain several practical instructions (such as “pray without ceasing” in verse 17) to believers on how to live righteously and ethically so that we can make it to Heaven. Among these instructions is the command to encourage the “feebleminded,” that is the “little spirited” or “faint hearted” according to the translation of the original Greek word oligopsuchos (“ol-ig-op’-soo-khos”). We must support and give encouragement to those who are weary among us because God has done the same for us. We are nothing without God, and in the midst of trials, we cannot rely on ourselves for strength. God is our strength and comfort. If He does this all for us, then we should offer the same for others.

Some of the last messages about comfort in the New Testament speak of the church comforting each other. In the face of trials and persecution, the church stands united so long as we comfort and give strength to one another. As we well know, a house divided against itself cannot stand. In this time that the church is facing its fiercest opposition, we cannot afford to allow ourselves to become prejudiced toward each other and fail in our responsibility to lift our brothers and sisters up to God in prayer. The early church faced persecution from the enemy, and so Paul instructed them to encourage each other. Likewise, in these last days, the church is again facing persecution and opposition all over the world, but we still have that same command to be a comfort to each other. Our end goal—our ultimate goal is Heaven, and we work daily to live righteously so that we can all make it there.

As the children of God, we are never alone in our difficulties. As the Word teaches us about comfort, from the Old Testament to the New, we receive our strength and comfort from two places: from God and from the church. He comforts the weary so that we can comfort our weary fellow believers. He consoles the broken hearted so that the church can give consolation to the broken hearted. He calls us near to Him so that we can bind together with each other and lift up the depressed and hurting in our communities. His strength is our strength, His comfort is our hope, and our responsibility is to comfort each other with the news of eternal life through Him.

“You’re my brother, you’re my sister

So take me by the hand

Together we will work until He comes

There’s no foe that can defeat us

When we’re walking side by side

As long as there is love, we will stand.”

Comfort in The New Testament Part One: A Brief Analysis

“2020 has been consistent,” a friend of mine recently said.

It began crazy, became wild, and is wrapping up in a confusing maelstrom of insanity. This past week has proven just that.

As my family and I went into election week, COVID hit us and many we know. At first, it felt like things were collapsing. There’s a picture somewhere on the internet of a room on fire and a person standing numbly in the midst of it, unable to stop the chaos and practically accustomed to it. That’s where I was at the beginning of the week. I had planned on writing more posts for BPR by Sunday, but COVID upended my plans.

And now insanity has upended the US election. And here I sat, trying to catch up on posts that I was already supposed to have finished and posted for everyone to read so I could move into the next post series I’ve been preparing. But everything has a purpose. I began to wonder. What if I wasn’t supposed to finish these posts by earlier this week? What if, in the middle of all the craziness of post-election day, someone somewhere needs this reminder of God’s comfort now instead? What if the crazy things that happen in our life are orchestrated by God with a purpose? If God is the orchestrator of our life, and He is, then nothing happens that God does not know about and allow for a divine reason. This means He is in control. This means He hasn’t left us alone. This means that no matter what else happens, Jesus is our only hope.

We may be stressed to tears over struggling to do the things God has called us to do in this pandemic-obsessed and divided nation. We may be saddened over the loss of loved ones due to COVID or the news of loved ones infected with the virus, but our circumstances do not place us at a disadvantage.

“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” ~Matthew 5:4 (KJV)

Despite our sadness and struggles, we are blessed. “Blessed” translates to makarios in the original Greek translation of this verse, which means “supremely blest, fortunate, well off, happy (-ier).” We are a fortunate people even though we mourn. “Mourn” comes from the Greek entheō (pronounced “pen-theh’-o”) and means “to grieve (the feeling or the act); bewail/wail.” We may be grieving and wailing in our grief, but we are still well off. Why? Because God calls us near to Him. “Comforted” in this verse comes from the Greek word parakaleō, which means “to call near, that is, invite; invoke by imploration, hortation, or consolation; beseech, call for; be of good comfort; give exhortation; intreat.” In other words, those who grieve are blessed because God shall give them comfort and consolation. Even though we grieve and mourn, we are still fortunate because in those moments of grief, God calls us near to Him and comforts us. Therefore, even in the midst of our grief, we can find joy in knowing God will invite us closer to Him. We have hope in Jesus. That He is our Hope is not the only lesson I discovered when studying comfort in the New Testament.

[16] “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

[18] I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” ~John 14:16, 18 (KJV)

God, our Comforter, does not only draw us to him, but He comes to us! In John 14:16, “Comforter” translates in the Greek to paraklētos, meaning “intercessor, consoler, advocate.” “Comfortless” in verse 18 comes from the Greek word orphanos, which means “bereaved (orphan), that is, parentless, fatherless.” Jesus is speaking in these verses, telling His disciples that He would send an intercessor or advocate to dwell with them forever. He said again that He would not forsake them or leave them without comfort or a Father but that He would come to them. My Apostolic Study Bible says the following about these verses: “While Jesus would soon leave His disciples physically, this “Spirit of truth,” which was now with them and was invisible to the world, would dwell within them…. The Spirit that indwelt Jesus was the Comforter. He would not forsake them, leaving them…as ‘orphans,’ but would ‘come to’ them.” In verse 18, “I will come” is from the Greek word erchomai that is only used in the present and imperfect tense, meaning that Jesus wasn’t just telling the disciples then that He wouldn’t leave them but that this still applies to us today. Through the Presence of God’s Spirit, He comes to us and dwells with us. We find comfort in the Presence of God, which in turn gives us strength.

“Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.” ~Acts 9:31 (KJV)

Here, through Barnabas’ testimony, God calmed the disciples and helped them trust Saul (who had been persecuting them before his conversion). Now that their persecutor was one of them and was preaching the Gospel, they had some rest because God’s Spirit, the Comforter, gave them rest and edified them. In the comfort of the Spirit, they boldly served God and grew. “Rest” in Greek is eirēnē (pronounced “i-rah’-nay). This means “peace, prosperity, quietness.” We translate “edified” from the Greek word oikodomeō (pronounced “oy-kod-om-eh’-o”), which means “to be a house builder, that is, construct or confirm, build up, embolden.” The comfort of the Holy Ghost, God’s Spirit, gives us peace and prosperity, literally enabling us to build each other up, grow His Kingdom, and walk boldly in serving the Lord. Serving Him comes with a process, however, on which Matthew 9:20-22 sheds some light:

[20] “And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment:

[21] For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.

[22] But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.”

The woman with the issue of blood teaches us a little about finding comfort in the process of serving God. According to the Greek translation, “issue of blood” (aihmorrheō, which is pronounced “hahee-mor-hreh’-o”) means “to flow blood, that is, have a haemorrhage.” For years, this woman suffered some form of bleeding, possibly internal, but she didn’t let her issue keep her down. “Came” in verse 20 translates to the Greek word proserchomai (pros-er’-khom-ahee), which means “to approach, that is, (literally) come near, visit, or (figuratively) worship.” “Touched” in the Greek haptomai (hap’-tom-ahee) means “to attach oneself to, that is, to touch.” She approached Jesus and attached herself to the hem, or border, of his robe because she believed that if she did so, that alone would heal and deliver her. We know that Jesus immediately turned around and, seeing her, declared that she could have courage (“comfort” in verse 22 is from the Greek word tharseō and means “to have courage, be of good cheer”). Why? Well, “faith” in verse 22 means “persuasion, that is, credence; moral conviction (of religious truth or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher) especially reliance upon Christ for salvation; assurance, belief” according to the Greek translation. This woman’s moral conviction, reliance on Jesus for healing, assurance in Him, and belief made her whole. She was completely healed and delivered that same hour. Her story teaches us that we can have comfort and courage knowing that if we worship God, draw near and attach ourselves to Him, rely on Him for assurance, and believe that He can do anything, then He will deliver us, protect us, preserve us, and save us.

There is comfort in the process. Isn’t it interesting that the Greek translation for “came” also means to worship? Imagine what would happen if we didn’t just come to Jesus but if we always came to Him in worship and praise! Living for God is often difficult when we let our flesh get in the way and when we let life’s disappointments discourage us, but we can find comfort in the process—we worship Him, we draw near to Him and push other things away, we rely on Him daily, and this brings us comfort. This makes us whole.

Comfort in The Old Testament Part Two: A Brief Analysis

It’s 31 degrees Fahrenheit outside, and you’re sitting in your favorite comfy chair right in front of a warm fire. You’ve got fuzzy socks on, a thick blanket wrapped around you, and you’re holding a cup of fresh hot cocoa. There’s no noise, save for maybe the rustling of fall leaves in your front yard and the turn of pages in the book you’re reading. It’s the picture of comfort.

We think of comfort in many ways. For some, it’s the above scenario. Others might think of a fun dinner gathering with family and friends. I like lists—schedules, grocery lists, prayer lists, goal lists, etcetera. Lists give me a sense of security and comfort. If I see what I need to accomplish in writing, then it becomes more feasible to me. It helps me grasp a task and see its completion. But there are often moments when the need for comfort goes far beyond feeling cozy on a cold evening, having a fun chat with family, or planning out a task. When the homework or bills pile high or we’re in a dry wilderness that no one else understands, what we need goes beyond the physical, tangible world. When our spirit needs comforting, we must go to the Word of God.

“This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.” ~Psalms 119:50

Psalm 119 discusses meditation on the law of the Lord, or Scripture, and when we meditate on His Word, we learn to trust and find comfort in Him. The Hebrew word for “affliction” in verse 50 is ‛ŏnîy (pronounced “on-ee’”) and means “depression, misery, or trouble.” “Quickened” in Hebrew is châyâh (khaw-yaw’), meaning “to revive, nourish up, preserve, recover, restore to life, save alive, surely be whole.” Now, remember from the first word study post in this series that “comfort” in the Hebrew often translates to “consolation.” Here, the word for comfort in Hebrew is nechâmâh, similar to nâcham, which means “to console” in Isaiah 49:13. The psalmist in the above verse was depressed and troubled, but his misery did not consume him. Why? Because the Word of the Lord revived him, nourished him, restored him, and made him whole. This is our consolation when we have an overdue water bill, student loans piling up, groceries to buy, and a broken water heater to fix. This is our consolation when we have multiple essays and projects due while studying for exams. This is our consolation when we seem to crawl through the barren wilderness, enduring unexplainable grief and hopelessness. God’s Word declares He is with us, He will never forsake us, and that He will provide our every need. Our comfort during miserable circumstances is the hope we find in His Word. Even when we’re depressed, His Word pulls us out of that depression and nourishes and restores us. His Word gives us life and the strength to go on and endure.

“I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass;

“But I am the LORD thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared: The LORD of hosts is his name.” ~Isaiah 51:12, 15

God is the Comforter of His people. The note for Isaiah 51:12 in my Apostolic Study Bible states that “the Israelites should no longer fear Babylon because it will fade away.” In fact, the headline for chapter 51 is “Jerusalem’s Comfort.” In this chapter, God reminds His people that His righteousness and salvation are forever. We should not be afraid of mankind or things on earth because the moth and worm “shall eat them up,” and the earth will “wax old like a garment” (see Is. 51:6-8). There truly is a season to everything as Ecclesiastes chapter 3 says. In Isaiah 51:12, God tells His people that He is the One Who comforts and eases us and asks how anyone could be afraid of a mortal man who will die or of mankind who is brought forth as mere grass. In verse 15, He reminds us just Who He is. He is Jehovah Who is THE God Who literally split apart the sea when the people of Israel fled Egypt. “Hosts” translated from the Hebrew tsâbâ’ tsebâ’âh means “a mass of persons especially regularly organized for war, an army, and soldiers waiting upon war.” He is the LORD of an army! Man is nothing compared to God, and nothing compares to His greatness and strength and His mighty hand in battle!

When our needs go beyond the physical world and life weighs us down, God will provide us with strength, restore us, and lead an army against our enemy to fight our battles for us. Jesus is the true picture of comfort for the weary and troubled soul.

The next post in this series will be studying how the word “comfort” appears in the New Testament and what it means. Be sure to subscribe to receive a notification when “Comfort in the New Testament Part One: A Brief Analysis” goes live! I pray this word study of “comfort” in the Old Testament has blessed you and perhaps even compelled you to conduct “word” studies in the Word and dive deeper into Bible studying. In the meantime, here’s a beautiful song about God’s blessings (which Numbers 6:24-27 inspired) to help you find comfort in His Presence:

“The Lord bless you and keep you

Make His face shine upon you

And be gracious to you

The Lord turn His face toward you

And give you peace.”

~The Blessing (Gospel Revamp)

Comfort in The Old Testament Part One: A Brief Analysis

When trial after trial hits, each trial compounding on the previous one, it becomes very easy for a whirlwind of anxiety, frustration, and depression to sweep you away. In the midst of all the chaos, you realize what you long for is comfort—to feel a calm to the storm within and around you if even for a moment long enough to reassure you that somehow everything will be okay.

Again and again throughout Scripture and still today, God comforts His people. In the Greek and Hebrew languages, the word “comfort” takes on various meanings from compassion to consolation and ease. In the Old Testament, “comfort” appears when His people are feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or afraid.

“In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.” ~Psalm 94:19

God comforts us and gives us support, encouragement, and mercy when our thoughts and circumstances seem to consume us. In Psalm 94:19, the Hebrew word for “multitude” is “rôb,” meaning “abundance.” The Hebrew word for “comforts” is “tanchûm tanchûm tanchûmâh” and means “compassion, solace, and consolation.” “Delight” translates into “shâ‛a‛,” or shaw-ah’,” which means “in good acceptation; to look upon with complacency, please, or amuse.” As a person who tends to overthink, it is far too easy for negative thoughts to overwhelm me, but as the psalmist said, in the middle of all my fear and doubt and anxiety, His compassion pleases my soul.

Three verses later, the psalmist declared in Psalm 94:22, “But the LORD is my defence; and my God is the rock of my refuge.” “Defence” here comes from the Hebrew word “miώgâb,” or “mis-gawb’,” which means “a refuge or a place in Moab that was a high fort or tower,” and “rock” comes from the Hebrew “tsûr tsûr,” or “tsoor tsoor,” which indicates a rock or defense that is sharp, mighty, and strong. “Refuge” comes from the Hebrew “machăseh machseh,” or “makh-as-eh’ makh-seh’,” and means “shelter, hope, place of refuge, and trust.” God is literally our strong and mighty tower—the place of refuge where we find hope, shelter, and trust. With both of these verses in account, not only does God comfort us and give us encouragement and mercy when we war with the thoughts in our mind, but He also goes to war for us and gives us a place in His Presence where we can find shelter from the overwhelming battle and where we can find hope and learn to trust in Him.

Looking at the chapters before and after Psalm 94 helps us understand the context of this chapter’s message. The heading for Psalm 94 in my Apostolic Study Bible says, “God avenges His people.” Psalm 93 discusses the “supremacy of the Lord” and how He is clothed with majesty and strength. The three psalms immediately following Psalm 94 express praise, worship, and celebration of God as our Great King and Creator Who eternally reigns over all the universe. If we look at these chapters collectively, we understand that we must praise God for His greatness and majesty because of who He is—He is everlasting and mighty, and He fights for us and is merciful to us as the Judge of the earth. He is our Creator, after all. It is comforting to know and understand that our Creator truly cares and has compassion for us.

God’s Word associates comfort with praise again in Isaiah 49:13:

“Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.”

The prophet Isaiah is instructing God’s creation to sing for joy and triumph because God consoles His people and gives mercy to those who are depressed and poor. “Sing” here comes from the Hebrew word “rânan,” which means “to shout or cry aloud for joy or to rejoice for triumph.” “Comforted” is from the Hebrew word “nâcham,” meaning “to console or to ease,” and “afflicted” comes from the Hebrew “‛ânîy,” or “aw-nee’,” which means “depressed in mind or circumstances, lowly, needy, or poor.” Here, we see again how great our God is and that He is always there to comfort us and care for our needs, showing us mercy and compassion and love. But it is not enough to merely give this instruction once or remind God’s people only one time of His comfort and mercy. In Isaiah 52:9, we see yet another command to praise:

“Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the LORD hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.”

We often have good reason behind our despair, for life often comes with an abundance of pain, loss, and suffering. But Isaiah understood that God’s people should praise Him even when we’re in those low places of sorrow. We sing praises to Him, and He comforts and redeems us. We may be desolate waste places, but God has bought us with His Blood and delivered us from all sin and sorrow. Our world is unfair and filled with strife and darkness, but God has overcome the world and given us His Presence and Word to be our comfort.

I hope this brief analysis of comfort in the Old Testament has blessed you. Stay tuned for part two on studying comfort in the Old Testament in which we’ll cover more of Psalms and Isaiah and how we can find comfort in God’s strength and provision. For an encouraging song to remind you of the Lord’s greatness and comfort in the meantime, check out “The Isaiah Song” by The Urshan College Choir.

“Sing, sing! O barren land,

Water is coming to the thirsty.

Though you are empty, I am the Well.

Draw from me; I will provide.”

~The Isaiah Song

Seasons of Change

God is a poet—really. His Word is chock full of the most poetic verses ever written, and some of the most beautiful poetry exists in my favorite passage of Scripture below.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

(1) “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

(2) A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

(3) A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

(4) A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

(5) A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

(6) A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

(7) A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

(8) A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

I can’t pick one favorite verse from the Bible because, quite frankly, there are too many poignant verses from which to choose! But the first eight verses of Ecclesiastes chapter three is my favorite passage for its poetic beauty and the message it carries. No matter what season of life you’re in, there’s a new season coming that will bring birth, growth, healing, and laughter.

Yes, there are bad seasons in life—far too many it seems—but every bad season has an end (looking at you, 2020). Unfortunately, even some good seasons come to an end, a fact which yours truly does not appreciate because change is hard. When things are great, I want them to stay that way, but then life happens, and my happy, great little life gets uprooted and everything is different. That’s why I take comfort in Ecclesiastes chapter three.

There may be death, but there’s also birth.

There may be a season of uprooting things, but there’s also a season of planting and growth.

There may be times when we can’t hold back the tears, but joy comes in the morning!

With the change of seasons comes the promise and hope of new growth and life. It may be an unsettling time right now, but we can rest in the hope of new life in Jesus and peace in His Presence.