Thursday, February 28, 2013

It is Well with my Soul

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.

                                                     Psalm 46:1-3

At the last Living Room meeting in Burnaby, someone mentioned the remarkable story of Horatio Spafford, the person who wrote the words to the well-known hymn, It is Well with my Soul. My friend told us how much that hymn has meant to her when she faced hard times. How she would quietly sing it to herself and get encouragement from it.

Spafford wrote this hymn during a time of traumatic losses in his life. The first was the death of his only son in 1871 at the age of four, shortly followed by the great Chicago Fire which ruined him financially. His business interests were further hit by the economic downturn of 1873 at which time he had planned to travel to Europe with his family. In a late change of plans, he sent the family ahead while he was delayed with business problems. While crossing the Atlantic, the ship sank rapidly after a collision with another vessel and all four of Spafford's daughters died. His wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, "Saved alone . . .".

Shortly after all these tragic events, as Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed near where his daughters had died. The words were later put to music by Philip Bliss. Through this song, Spafford and Bliss have given hope to thousands.

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul!

It is well ... with my soul!
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Oh, if I could only get such comfort from my faith! I hope this story and this song will inspire you as it has inspired me. The song is readily available on Youtube. My favourite version is here.

May God bless you and keep you, no matter what you might be facing.


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Monday, February 25, 2013

Showers of blessings

Through the prophet Ezekiel, in chapter 34, verses 26 - 27 of his book, God said,
26 I will bless them and the places surrounding my hill. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing. 27 The trees of the field will yield their fruit and the ground will yield its crops; the people will be secure in their land. They will know that I am the Lord, when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hands of those who enslaved them.
I believe that when God speaks to one person or group of people He is speaking to all of us. He is speaking to you and to me and whoever hears His word.

Don't you just love the words: "there will be showers of blessing?" It reminds me of spring showers that bring forth fresh green grass, new leaves on the trees, and flowers - all ready for the sunshine of a new season to bathe them with its warmth - gifts - blessings from our loving Father in heaven.

I've just started following Charles Spurgeon's devotional, Morning and Evening. Such riches his writings are! You may hear me quote him quite often. Spurgeon asks, "What is thy season this morning? Is it the season of drought? Then that is the season for showers. Is it a season of great heaviness and black clouds? Then that is the season for showers."

God will send showers. Not depressing ones, but "showers of blessings."

Says Spurgeon: "Look up today, O parched plant, and open thy leaves and flowers for a heavenly watering."
I'm sharing a picture I took some years ago of a wild rose, looking clean after a spring shower. Can't you just smell the sweet aroma?
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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Like lambs in His arms

Years ago I saw this scene of a mother and her child. I could relate so I photographed it. It reminded me very much of the child I used to be - and the child I still am at times.

I was really taken by something Ravi Zacharias said in his book, Recapture the Wonder. He wrote, “Like a child who suddenly stops sobbing when he is clasped in the arms of his mother, such will be the grip of heaven upon our souls.” Is this so very meaningful to me because I’ve lived with so much depression? It must be, though I’m sure many will remember that feeling of being comforted, whether it be as a child or adult.

Zacharias talks about heaven, but I don’t believe heaven is only a place we go to when we die. I believe it’s available to us now. Heaven is possible wherever God’s kingdom reigns, wherever His will is done.

Jesus Himself taught us to pray:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
  your kingdom come,
your will be done
    on earth as it is in heaven.” 
(Matthew 6:9-10)

When we feel the love of God, isn’t it a bit like being clasped once more in our mother’s arms? Every time I am reminded of His love, especially at those times I’m having trouble emotionally, it’s as though I experience a little piece of heaven. There are many things that help me feel that. Scripture like Isaiah 40:10-11 for example.

See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power,
    and his arm rules for him.
See, his reward is with him, 
    and his recompense accompanies him.  
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
    He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
    he gently leads those that have young.

He carries us close to his heart.
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Monday, February 18, 2013

Finding strength in weakness

Hello everyone,
I received a note for you from Alison, "Wishing GOD'S strength in everyone's journey." She quoted from 2 Corinthians 12:9 where Paul said, "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." 
Strange thing about that verse, I so often have trouble getting my head around it, trying to sort out exactly what it means. Sometimes I get it, and then, other times, I don't.
But we need to understand that verse, because we all deal with weaknesses, don't we? Some of us in a very bad way. We suffer.
In an adaptation from Charles Spurgeon's devotional Morning and Evening, he is quoted saying "Take courage, for there must be a consciousness of weakness before the Lord will give you victory." It's when we feel weak that we most have to rely on God's strength to uphold us. It's then that we most need to trust God, and that is good. The opposite would be to feel that we have strength and have no need for God.
Quoting something I found by Dane Ortlund: "The pattern in God’s work on earth is to channel his power through human weakness. God does not skim off the top ten percent— - the most gifted, the most articulate, the smartest, the best educated - —for significance in the kingdom."
"He picks the screw-ups. The nobodies. He picks people like you and me." Think of the many "weak" people in the Bible who God picked to do great things: Jacob, rather than Esau, young David rather than his more impressive brothers, Jeremiah, young and timid, chosen to be God's mouthpiece. "Human weakness is not a problem for God. It is the great prerequisite. It is where God locates His power."
And how do we find God's strength? Stay connected. Talk to Him. Ask Him for the help you need with this day. But it's something we so often forget to do, isn't it? If only we could do that daily!
Wishing you all a blessed day.

The above is a copy of an email I sent today to people who would like to be part of a Living Room group but aren't able to access one. If you'd like to receive such emails into your inbox, you can send your email address to me from the Living Room homepage at

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Help for children and youth

This week I was alerted to a wonderful service for children and teens - anyone under 20. It offers confidential phone counselling for those who need to talk but don't otherwise have anyone to talk to. Their website, has a lot of information as well. Their phone number is 1-800-668-6868.
Copying from their website:

What is
Kids Help Phone?

  • Phone counselling
  • Web counselling
  • For ages 20 & under
  • Free, 24/7
  • Anonymous & Confidential
  • Non-judgemental

The KHP Promise

Anonymous means you don't have to tell us who you are.
Confidential means whatever you tell us is safe.
If you know of a young person in trouble, please do let them know about this.
Have a blessed day.

Monday, February 11, 2013

An influential preacher talks about depression

How long it has been since I last posted! I'm sorry. I guess my focus has changed to more directly helping people who live with mood disorders. Actually, that has been happening for a long time - through Living Room and other kinds of writings.

I've very recently started sending emails to people who have looked for support through Living Room. Yet there are unfortunately not nearly enough groups to serve everyone. So I'm now sending messages via email to those people - an online Living Room of sorts.

If you'd like to receive these messages, send your email address to me at and I will put you on my list.

Here is my latest sharing:

Charles Haddon (C.H.) Spurgeon (19 June 1834 – 31 January 1892) was a British Particular Baptist preacher. Spurgeon remains highly influential among Christians of different denominations, among whom he is known as the "Prince of Preachers". He was a strong figure in the Reformed Baptist tradition, defending the Church in agreement with the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith understanding, and opposing the liberal and pragmatic theological tendencies in the Church of his day. In his lifetime, Spurgeon preached to around 10,000,000 people, often up to 10 times each week at different places.

Spurgeon suffered from depression and left behind writings about it that should comfort any Christian who longs to be understood by other Christians.

I thank Keith, one of our readers, who thoughtfully shared the following link, which contain a lot of what Spurgeon had to say:

If you don't have time to read it all, or find the old English hard to get along with, here is a quick idea of what he talked about:

“I know that wise brethren say, ‘You should not give way to feelings of depression.’ If those who blame quite so furiously could once know what depression is, they would think it cruel to scatter blame where comfort is needed. There are experiences of the children of God which are full of spiritual darkness; and I am almost persuaded that those of God’s servants who have been most highly favoured have, nevertheless, suffered more times of darkness than others.

“The covenant is never known to Abraham so well as when a horror of great darkness comes over him, and then he sees the shining lamp moving between the pieces of the sacrifice. A greater than Abraham was early led of the Spirit into the wilderness, and yet again ere He closed His life He was sorrowful and very heavy in the garden.
“No sin is necessarily connected with sorrow of heart, for Jesus Christ our Lord once said, ‘My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.’ There was no sin in Him, and consequently none in His deep depression.

“I would, therefore, try to cheer any brother who is sad, for his sadness is not necessarily blameworthy. If his downcast spirit arises from unbelief, let him flog himself, and cry to God to be delivered from it; but if the soul is sighing–’though he slay me, yet will I trust in him ’–its being slain is not a fault.

“The way of sorrow is not the way of sin, but a hallowed road sanctified by the prayers of myriads of pilgrims now with God–pilgrims who, passing through the valley of Baca [lit: of weeping], made it a well, the rain also filled the pools: of such it is written: ‘They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.’
–Charles Haddon Spurgeon: Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, 1881, vol. 27, p. 1595

I hope you find comfort in these words - the kind of comfort you need to receive from a fellow Christian.

May God bless you.