Webmaster's introduction: This was written to a Christian missionary who was suffering depression and spiritual oppression.Dear One,
Greetings in Jesus' name. Thank you for writing and telling me so much about yourself.
I'm sorry to hear about all the troubles you've experienced, but I'm also very thankful that you love the Lord and are trying your best to serve Him. I'm sure that you are being a great help to others in your current ministry.
I pray that you will find a place of service where you can be content and feel fulfilled and satisfied with your tasks, however humble they may sometimes be. As the Psalmist declared, "I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness" (Psalm 84:10).
Thank you for explaining your recent struggles with negative thoughts, discouragement, and depression, as well as about the difficulties that sometimes arise in your interactions with others. Such problems can seem impossible to overcome - especially when you're in the midst of them - but nothing is too hard for the Lord.
The Lord has shown you much love and mercy and patience, but you need to realize that He's not the only one trying to get your attention or direct your thoughts. Not every thought that enters your mind is from the Lord, so you must learn to watch your thoughts and make sure you're on the Lord's channel. "Test the spirits" to make sure that what you're hearing in your mind or spirit is from the Lord (1 John 4:1).
If your thoughts are not according to God's Word or cause you to be discontent, bitter, dissatisfied, unhappy, or critical of others, they are not from the Lord but from the enemy of your soul, the Devil. You must call on Jesus for help and resist the Devil when he tempts you with these negative thoughts.
One of your best protections is to keep busy for God. Another is to fill your mind and heart with positive, encouraging, strengthening, and faith-building thoughts from His Word. Memorize Scriptures and quote them to yourself and even to the Enemy when he attacks you. Claim the promises of God constantly, and cling to His Word.
Some verses that have been a great blessing to me in times of distress, mental anguish, doubt, fear, and spiritual battle with the Enemy have been:
"God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7).
"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4:18).
"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee" (Isaiah 26:3).
"When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him" (Isaiah 59:19).
"Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7).
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls" (Hebrews 12:1-3).
"Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:1-2).
Psalm 23 has also always been a great comfort to me in time of need-to know that the Lord would never leave nor forsake me nor leave me comfortless.
Also remember that there is great power in united prayer. Whenever you feel oppressed, distressed, or attacked by the Enemy, it helps greatly to have someone else pray with you. One can chase a thousand, but two can put ten thousand to flight (Deuteronomy 32:30). Jesus said, "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20), and, "If two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in Heaven" (Matthew 18:19). So never be ashamed to ask for help or prayer when you need it. "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed" (James 5:16).
I am always convicted by that part in the Lord's Prayer: "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us" (Matthew 6:12), and what He said about forgiveness a few verses later: If we don't forgive others who wrong us, God can't forgive us (Matthew 6:15).
So we must ask Him in all humility to help us have mercy on others, knowing that we also must be forgiven for many sins. Remembering continually what sinners we are and how many mistakes we've made helps greatly to keep us humble, and that helps us to avoid a spirit of self-righteous pride that causes us to criticize and condemn others.
It helps to always remember we're all sinners and that we all make mistakes, and that we must forgive one another, even as God for Jesus' sake has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32). It is no longer you that live, but Christ that lives in you (Galatians 2:20), "for you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3).
When you feel so terribly discouraged or depressed, don't even think about taking your own life! God has already taken it! When you yielded your heart to Him and asked Him to take your life for His service, He did, and He's been trying to use it for His glory ever since-as much as you will let Him. So keep it that way: Your life is in His hands. You are His, and He loves you and is doing His best for you in trying to make you useful and happy in His service for others by bringing them the life and happiness you have found in Jesus.
Keep loving others, and they will love you. Keep serving Jesus and He'll serve you-well! Stay close to Him and He'll never fail you. He'll never forsake you. He'll never let you down. Even though He may not always answer your prayers just the way you'd like, keep trusting Him and He'll never fail.
Meanwhile, despise not "the day of small things" (Zechariah 4:10), or whatever humble tasks the Lord may call upon you to perform. The less responsibility you have, the less you will be held responsible for. And if you are faithful in the small things, the Lord will commit greater things to your care when you have proven that you can be trusted with them (Matthew 25:14-29, the parable of the talents).
"In everything give thanks" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Be thankful for your many blessings. In whatever state you find yourself, whether abounding or abasing, be content (Philippians 4:11-12). "Be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5). Continue to be faithful-full of faith and love in Jesus!
God bless and keep you and make you a blessing.Your servant in the Lord,
My name is James Arendt. I was raised in the Hegewisch neighborhood on the southeast side of Chicago, Illinois, served in the USAF from 1970 to 1974, and became a full-time missionary for Christ living 40 years in Japan, 3.5 years in Russia, and a few months in other countries such as Finland, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, South Korea, Taiwan and mainland China where I also served the King of Kings, Jesus, as an Ambassador for His Kingdom.
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