Mental Illness Article, Part 6

Mental Illness Article, Part 6

 

D2. APOSTLE PAUL: ROAD TO DAMASCUS

“God is not glorified in any transaction upon earth so much as in the conversion of a sinner.” (Archibald Alexander). Just note the conversion of the Apostle Paul:

The Apostle Paul was originally Saul, a Christian hater who persecuted Christians, and “approved the stoning of a saint name Stephen.” Saul ‘tried to destroy the church” as he “placed Christian men and women in prison.” Saul, according to Acts 9:1, “uttered threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers.” That was the life of Saul before God converted him on the road to Damascus.

Seemingly every Christian knows that “Saul became Paul after a light from heaven made him blind. In Acts 9.5, a voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” The next thing you know the Apostle Paul became of the greatest apostles ever. That is the power of the gospel.

Billy Sunday once said, “Conversion is a complete surrender to Jesus. It’s a willingness to do what he wants you to do.” How could a man who plotted to destroy and kill Christians instantly became willing to suffer immensely for the cause of Christianity? That is the power of the gospel.
With God, there is a future for every sinner, regardless of his or her past. The same God who transformed Saul into Paul, can also radically change the evil hearts of those who hurt you. The Trinity can transform violent people into those of compassion and love. In essence, the Lord can use former heinous people to create great change in this world. Nothing is impossible for the Lord!

It doesn’t matter what you may have done in the past, there is always a future for you, if you seek Him. His Love for His children is unfathomable, and His desire to adopt as His children, the worst of sinners is just as strong. If you surrender yourself to Him, He will never leave nor forsake you. He wants an intimate love relationship with you. Don’t pass Him by!

Every sinner has a future with Christ if they change their ways.
E1. APOSTLE PAUL: DOMINION OVER ADVERSITY = MASTERS OF LIFE

KEY QUOTE: “God can deliver you so well that some people won’t believe your testimony.”
(Shannon L. Alder)

In this world of consequences and sufferings, trying to remain free in spite of trials can seem a daunting task. However, there is always hope in those who put their faith in Jesus, the overcomer of the greatest of trials – sin and death on the cross.
“I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me.” (Philippians 4:13) – these were the God-inspired words of the Apostle Paul, who endured enormous sufferings, in the name of Christ. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-29: “I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?” However, in spite of all this, Paul still said in “Our hearts ache, but we always have joy.”
In our hardships, we all have moments where we question God’s love. Paul, though, said in Romans 8:35-41: “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does I mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? . . . And I am convinced that nothing an ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
In a world of sin and consequences, God gave Paul his “thorn in the flesh”, so Paul would daily realize that “in his own strength he was too weak to overcome”, “but through God, all things are possible.” In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Paul reinforces this fact: “ . . so now that I am glad to boast about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
In life, you may still feel confused and frustrated of why God gave you a mental illness. You also may at times feel like a nobody in comparison to those without a “thorn in the flesh” AKA a disability. However, “God chose the things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And He chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.” (1 Corinthians 1:27-28). That is one major reason why Paul, me, and you, have been blessed with a “thorn in the flesh.”

God made you weak so you can be living proof that He is strong. He uses trials to teach us to “stop relying on ourselves, but rather, solely on God” each day. Most importantly, He wants to train our faith and courage to believe in the power of 1 Corinthians 10:13: “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure.” (God-inspired author of 1 Corinthians 10:13: the Apostle Paul who suffered greatly).
James 1: 12
“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.”

CONCLUSION OF APOSTLE PAUL
Saul was the worst of sinners; he in fact was persecuting and destroying God’s children (Christians). However, the fact that God still wanted to use him, reveals the remarkable grace of God. Also amazing is the power of the gospel, which converted a truly evil heart into one a compassionate man who immensely suffered for the cause of Christ. In addition, as we study the testimony of this great saint, we also see that Paul also had a personal “thorn in the flesh” (aka, a ‘disability’) that he had to daily overcome. This gives “mentally ill” people hope that “great things can be achieved” in spite of their limitations. Finally, the story of Paul gives us hope that in spite of great trials, great joy, derived from the power of Christ, can be still experienced. The Apostle Paul’s faith was unquestioned as he believed, in his own life: “I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me”, inspired words of God, written by the author Apostle Paul, in Philippians 4:13. We can all find hope in the life of the Apostle Paul
F. “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” (Mother Teresa)

Small things done in love, can potentially lead to great change, in a rippling effect, when empowered by the Holy Spirit, and purposed by God. For example:
When I was a senior in college, my then undiagnosed manic depression, etc., almost led me to give up on life, as I considered suicide by purposely driving a car off the road and into death. However, when I needed it the most, LOVE intervened, as God’s played an inspirational song on the radio which gave me hope.

A few months later, LOVE (God) inspired a caring teacher, Professor Duane Dobbert, to take a further interest in me. Dobbert eventually led me to a physiatrist in Angola, IN, who diagnosed me with bipolar disorder. Years pass on and another doctor diagnosed my OCD. Because someone chose to care back then, I can gladly state today I am free from my mental illness.
I have spent years writing on the Internet, trying to encourage people with similar problems as I. I created two web sites – www.inpursuitoffreedomministries.com and www.insearchofabettertomorrow.com – telling individuals about Christ, including how He has helped me to overcome my mental illness. I also have published several Christian articles on Faithwriters.com, and I have made several posts on Christian forums.com, whether it, be a daily devotional I got permission to use, an encouraging thread, or just plain verses. I also pray almost every day to encourage, uplift, and inspire people I met. I also have told my mental illness recovery story to several people. I am not trying to boast, because only through God’s grace can I live a life of freedom. But the point is, I have a strong compassion to create great change in this world.

If it wasn’t for a teacher who chose to care, I wouldn’t have my mental illness diagnosed, and I would have probably, given up on life by now. I owe that teacher my life. If God didn’t give me my mental illness, if I didn’t have such enormous life mountains to climb, if the journey wasn’t so painful, and if I didn’t see so many hurting people in psychiatric hospitals, I would have never cared about writing this post, and I definitely wouldn’t spent the countless hours creating websites, etc.. God allowed my great sufferings for a greater, beneficial, purpose, and I strongly believe He has or is doing, the same for you.

If you are a child of God, just think: He loves you more than you could ever imagine. God will “never leave nor forsake you” in your journeys to find freedom. He also, will “never give you a trial beyond what you can handle through Him.” He is the Father who accepts every Prodigal Son with open arms and compassion. “He is close to the brokenhearted, he rescues those crushed in spirit.” Psalms 34:18

Just believe in the beauty and power of His Love, deliverance, and power to overcome. If you haven’t accepted Christ as your Savior, please do it now. There is no greater thing than being a child of God.

Even though I don’t know you, I still just want to say: “I love you”. Our Father in Heaven so desperately wants an intimate, eternal love relationship with you that He chose to have His Son die on the cross for you.

His Love to His children is unchangeable. His grace is always enough!

Quotes

“Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely. … He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken.”
― Dieter F. Uchtdorf

“There will always be someone willing to hurt you, put you down, gossip about you, belittle your accomplishments and judge your soul. It is a fact that we all must face. However, if you realize that God is a best friend that stands beside you when others cast stones you will never be afraid, never feel worthless and never feel alone.”
― Shannon L. Alder
Closing Remarks

Swami Vivekananda once said: “Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.” As we daily meditate upon that advice, listen also to the words of John Maxwell: “True success is obeying God.” Now incorporate that idea in your daily life.

“Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.” Henry David Thoreau
“With man, this is impossible. But with God, all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

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