If you were asked right now on the scale of 1-10 with 10 representing extreme depression or sadness, what would your honest response be?
Your answer would be contingent on a number of factors.
For instance, the kind of day you are having. Whether or not you are in the middle of a crisis. And how you are effectively managing your stress.
If you were asked right now on the scale of 1-10 with 10 representing your level of faith, what would be your response?
Which question did you find most easy or difficult to answer?
I’ll help you out. Most Christians are not reluctant to verbalize their faith level, even if it is not above 5. But when it comes to faith believers acknowledging their level of depression, this is an admission that is not quickly confessed.
One reason is because the admission of mild or severe depression seems to coincide with an admission there is a lack of faith. And who is the judge and jury that you are concerned will find you guilty of such a charge?
People. Supposedly other Christians.
God does not hold such criticism against His people. Jesus understands that we are human with real emotions. The Savior knows that His followers, His believers encounter the real struggles of life that can cause one to experience moments and even seasons of depression.
So how do Christians handle being depressed?
First by acknowledging feelings of depression without feeling guilty or ashamed. If you are too busy trying to hide the fact that you are having extreme feelings of sadness, then you are not able to address your unhealthy mood. You may not be ready to acknowledge your feelings openly to someone else, but you have to be honest with yourself and feel free to talk to the One who already knows about it.
“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance” (Psalm 42:5)
God already knows how you feel. And can you imagine how relieved you would feel talking to someone who already knows and understands? Depressed feelings can cause one to isolate from God. But you do not have to create an island from God.
When you are feeling lonely you need to seek after God and not run away from Him. God wants you to have a spirit of joy and not of heaviness. This is a major step in handling your feelings of depression. Go ahead and make the step towards your restoration.
You are not alone.
May 14, 2017 Sunday School Commentary
Lesson Guide, Direction
God’s Love Preserved Jonah
Devotional Reading: Psalm 116:1-14 ; Highlighted Text – Jonah 2
Key Verse – “But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD” (Jonah 2:9).
On this Mother’s Day, I pondered about how mothers can relate to the story of Jonah? As mothers, we can get so consumed in our daily responsibilities that also include the demands of others than our children that we do not foresee the wave of chaos coming towards us. Our attention can be so distracted that we fail to consistently set aside time to spend with God. Then when God sends something to hinder us from continuing our exhausting routines we take the time to pause and ask Him for help, healing and strength. Why? Because the thing that God sends is similar to what He used to get Jonah’s attention when he was abandoning his primary assignments and responsibilities. God knows how to abort our course and position us back in the right direction. Everyone and everything will try to pull us in different directions as mothers, but we must always remember that we can not accomplish anything without seeking after God first.
Jonah’s Predicament (Jonah 2:1)
The previous chapter consisted of Jonah running away from God and being held captive by a large fish that God sent. In the beginning of chapter two, Jonah’s situation is critical because he is trapped inside of the large fish. Have you ever found yourself suffocating in a dark and tight place with no possibility of escape? God will position us in situations where no one else can help us and we are forced to cry out to Him. This is what Jonah did. He prayed to God like never before.
Point to Ponder: Have you tried calling upon the name of the LORD in your current tight situation?
Jonah’s Prayer (Jonah 2:2-8)
These verses give us a description of Jonah’s prayer and his suffering. It is not easy and definitely not comfortable for Jonah to pray inside of the belly of the fish. He has to press beyond his fears, his entanglements and even his sins. He has to make a sacrifice unto God. But Jonah trusts that the LORD is hearing his prayers and that God will deliver him from the situation that he himself caused.
Point to Ponder: Do you trust that God hears your voice even in this situation?
Jonah’s Praise and Preservation (Jonah 2:9-10)
Jonah not only prays to God, but he also praises God in advance before God delivers him. He makes a vow, a promise to God to fulfill his obligation. Jonah repents. And remember that God knew the heart of Jonah; therefore, Jonah could not just say anything to get him out of his dark place. God knew that Jonah’s heart was repentant. God spoke to the fish and it released Jonah and God also delivered him out of his mental distress.
Point to Ponder: Is God waiting on you to fulfill a promise or obligation to Him?
Father God, we thank you for reminding us of your love that preserves us. As mothers, as fathers as leaders, as everyday people we can easily find ourselves running away from or becoming distant from our responsibility to you due to all the chaos we allow in our lives. God touch our hearts and remind us that the uncomfortable places we have found ourselves in is just you chasing after us to get our attention. Let us honestly repent and make a vow to complete the assignment you have given to us. And LORD, we thank you for also comforting every motherless person on today. Those that are heavily grieved remind them that you have not sent a fish to hold them captive in their grief, but you have sent your Son and the Holy Spirit to comfort any loneliness and heal any brokenness. It is in JESUS name we lift this prayer, Amen.
Commentary by, Minister Shulanda Hastings
Senior Ministry Leader
Spirit Realm Divine Manifestation Ministries
As Mother’s Day approaches, there are a lot of mixed emotions. This day set aside to recognize and honor mothers can be filled with excitement, resentment and sadness.
Do you have a great relationship with your mother?
Is your relationship with your mother broken?
Are you missing your mother because she is no longer here?
Regardless of the category that speaks to you, I strongly encourage you to listen to my podcast on Soulful Sessions with Ambassador Shulanda, “Mending Mother Relationships”. Feel free to post your comments!
Have you ever walked into a room that was new territory for you and felt like a large elephant? This is not an unusual feeling.
But have you ever felt like an outcast among people you socialize with everyday or at least on a weekly basis?
Some sensitive topics have become easier to discuss around complete strangers than those we know very well.
Why do you think this is the case?
One reason could be that we feel like we would be judged or criticized less by people who do not know anything about us.
Mental illness is one of these sensitive topics that people feel more comfortable to discuss with complete strangers. This includes professionals or random people.
Today, is Green Ribbon Day and the purpose is to “change minds about mental health, one conversation at a time”.
In order to break mental health barriers, the silence has to be broken. It cannot remain an elephant in the room. We cannot observe those we see or communicate with on a regular basis to continue hurting from mental disorders.
Help is available.
We cannot help if we are afraid to talk about it.
I charge you today to start a conversation about mental health with someone you know. It only takes one person to start a conversation and another one to keep it going. Will you be the transmitter?
Click here for more information on Green Ribbon Day.
Anyone who knows me know that I have a unique craving for cotton candy. Yes, cotton candy!
I don’t know exactly why, but I do know that fasting or trying to go cold turkey hasn’t worked.
But hey, everything should be done in moderation, right?
We know how our bodies more so our minds crave certain foods. But what about our emotional cravings?
Have you ever paid attention to your emotional cravings?
Do you recall the last time you felt feelings of emptiness, loneliness, or sadness?
Life events can cause us to have these emotions. When children leave the nest, feelings of emptiness surface. When relationships end, feelings of loneliness can manifest. When we lose a loved one, feelings of sadness can occur.
These emotions are signals that we are missing something and we have cravings to fulfill them. Often we try to substitute them with the wrong things. We do this because we are unsatisfied in certain areas and seek to satisfy our cravings.
Beth Moore describes it this way in the anthology, A Woman and Her God:
“If we don’t find satisfaction with God, we will look for it somewhere else. When we do, we default to one of two things: subsistence living or substitute living” (2003, p.9).
Have you ever tried quenching your thirst with something other than water or liquids? Even if we try to hydrate our bodies with a drink other than water, it will not produce the same results.
This same concept can be applied when we try to quench our emotional needs with those who cannot fulfill them.
We were created and designed to be in relationship with God. He provides a nourishment that no one else can. He satisfies our souls. When we try to get others to substitute for what was intended for God to do it will leave us frustrated, unsatisfied and always craving for something more.
When was the last time you allowed God to satisfy your craving?
He can satisfy us when we spend time with Him in prayer, worship and reading the Word. But we have to do it consistently and not when we are in a season of drought.
Do not continue to allow other things to be substituted for the real deal.
Guess what? Instead of that tempting bag of cotton candy that I normally crave, I am enjoying a nice protein smoothie that will provide me with what I need.
May 7, 2017 Sunday School Commentary
Lesson Guide, The Bible Expository and Illuminator
Topic of Lesson: God’s Sustaining Love
Devotional Reading: Psalm 139:1-12
Highlighted Text: Jonah 1:7-17
Key Verse: “The sailors were terrified when they heard this, for he had already told them he was running away from the Lord “Oh, why did you do it?” Jonah 1:10
I was about 5 years old when I decided that I’d run away. Yes, that’s right. At the tender age of 5, in my mind, I had the world figured out. My parents had just moved to another city and I was far away from everything that I knew and loved. I was even in a new school where the people talked funny and were not as kind as my small town community. One day, I gathered my courage, waited until my mom dropped me off at the entrance of the school and I dashed off into the other direction of the school. I ran as fast as I could even though I had no idea of my destination. All I knew was that I needed to escape my “troubles”. It wasn’t long before my parents pulled up alongside me, scooped me up, and took me back to where I was supposed to be all along.
The text this week drives home to all of us in some form because we’ve all run from something, at some point in our lives. Here, we have Jonah, who is running from an assignment from the Lord. As you delve into the lesson today, consider and reflect on your own “running shoes”. Are you in complete obedience to God’s will for you or are you holding back for some reason or another? Keep in mind that holding back can be a form of running, especially if you know God has destined you for more. Most importantly, remember that God’s sustaining love that forgives even the best runners.
Jonah’s Fault (Jonah 1:7-12)
When the Lord gave Jonah, the prophet, a message to go and prophesy his judgment on the city of Nineveh; rather than obeying, Jonah decided to run. Jonah knew that God was a forgiving God and if the people repented, the judgment would cease. He feared that the people would never truly repent in their hearts and learn from their sins because they knew that God would forgive them every time. Jonah bought a ticket, got on a ship and sailed for Tarshish, which was roughly 2500 miles in the opposite direction of where he should have gone.
When the Lord sent a massive storm to break the ship, the sailors aboard did everything they could to determine the root cause of the storm, from praying to their gods to casting lots. When everything they did turned to Jonah, they questioned him on what the cause of the storm was and who he truly was. Jonah was honest and upfront in his identity and the root cause of the storm and the troubles that they were encountering. He even acknowledged that he was the source of the storm because of his disobedience and knew that the storm would calm if he were thrown overboard.
Jonah owned up to the fact that it was his own sin that was the source of all the troubles that were happening. When sin occurs, the first thing that we, as Christians, must do is acknowledge it. If we fail to acknowledge our sins, we fail to truly chart down the path to repentance and experience God’s grace and mercy.
Sailors’ Prayer (Jonah 1:13-17)
The sailors knew and believed that Jonah was the source, but they did not want to be responsible for taking a man’s life. They tried to row the ship even harder to get to land, but the storm worsened. Finally, they prayed to God for forgiveness, picked up Jonah and threw him into the raging sea and the storm stopped immediately. The sailors knew then, that God was mighty, powerful, and the one true living God and they vowed to serve Him.
All the while, God caused a great fish to swallow Jonah and he remained inside the fish for three days and three nights.
Who knows if your testimony or acknowledgement of sin could be the source of someone else’s acceptance of Christ? Jonah had many faults, but as a result of his acknowledgement and the sailors seeing the work of God for themselves, the sailors acknowledged who God truly was. Even throughout all of Jonah’s running escapes, God still cared and loved Him. God could have swallowed him up into the sea and asked another prophet to deliver his message, but instead he put him in a safe place for three days.
There’s no greater love than the love of Christ for us. Despite our sin, our disobedience, our running, and many faults, He still forgives embraces and loves us. That type of agape love only exists through Jesus Christ. If we can give any message to the world about who God is, the story of Jonah reflects a true love story of sin, rebellion, judgment, repentance, love, and uplifting. That’s what our God truly represents.
Commentary by, La’Tonika Blackmon
Contributing Writer for
Spirit Realm Divine Manifestation Ministries