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*Welcome to SPAG Magazine

*Welcome to SPAG Magazine

Welcome in wood Thanks for dropping by! 

Are you a Christian? Do you love God? Do you want to be encouraged, challenged or inspired in your Christian walk? Then you’ve come to the right place.

SPAG Magazine is a FREE quarterly, electronic magazine for Christian adults. While we have a focus on singles, our articles are suitable for all Christian adults. We’re an international, inter-denominational publication, and we aim to honour and exalt God. We believe that the Bible is God’s inerrant Word.

The updated issue 13 is now available!

The June/August 2018 issue of SPAG Magazine is finally here and what a great selection of articles there are in this issue.

Initially, we had a problem with our “Letters to Lou” pages, but they’re now all updated and uploaded to the online issues.

Our 13th issue of SPAG Magazine coincides with our 3rd birthday! We have a great bunch of fascinating articles which I’m sure will get your thinking, and hopefully bring you closer to God.

The articles in the issue include:
– Hate like Jesus;
– Domestic violence and the church (Part 2);
– God’s gift of life: NO to euthanasia;
– Road to Damascus;
– Open Doors: from muslim sheikh to secret believer;
– Josie and the gift of singleness;
– Creation Ministries: Cuttlefish colour changes inspire new TV screen design;
– Condemned to celibacy?
and lots more!

Following are the links to the current issue:

We’re celebrating our third birthday with a whopping 60% off all of our previous issues (until the end of August 2018) so you can catch up on all of our earlier great articles, and it’s an easy way you can also help support this important ministry. (Link to our store)

Time is running out for this offer: we’re offering 50% all promotions in our September/November 2018 issue. Find out more in our promotions/advertising page here. 

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Let us know if you would like to subscribe for your very own quarterly issue. Email us: 

Warm regards

From Vicki Nunn, Editor and the staff of SPAG Magazine

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Calling all singles!

 How Do You Respond to Those Dumb Comments?

How do you respond when other people make silly, annoying, rude or repetitive comments to you about being a single person? What kinds of things do they say? We had an article in the March/May issue of SPAG Magazine, sharing things that people have said to other Christian singles about their state of ‘unwedded bliss.’

If you’d like to share some of the comments said to you, please fill out the form on this page, or email us:

How do you like this humorous idea?

I’ll be doing a series of these images based around singleness, spinsterhood and bachelorhood to go into my personal shops, sometime in the near future.

I’ll put them on cups, shirts, cushions and other items.
If you like the idea, please let me know and I’ll redirect you to the shops where they’re located, once I upload them in my personal online stores.

Vicki Nunn
Editor

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Becci and Robbo from the Rise and Show program on Vision FM interviewed me on 24 March about my near death experience, which I shared in an earlier issue of SPAG Magazine. Here’s a link to a copy of that interview:

Bridget Brenton from Christian Today wrote a fantastic review about an earlier issue of SPAG Magazine. You can find the review here.

AND FOR YOU: a FREE devotional booklet for one month:

We hope this book will bring you into a closer relationship with God through praise, prayer and worship.

Here’s the link to the downloadable pdf  (link here)

OR view the online ‘flippable version:

Praise To God Devotional Booklet No. 1

(Note: there may be some advertising on this third party website.)

SPAG Magazine is FREE – covering our costs is essential if we want to continue making this terrific magazine available at no cost to you and to all of our readers. Please prayerfully consider how you may help:

Or send along your friends to our shop.

You can also help us by submitting the following for our consideration:

  • your own article;

  • your scenery photograph for our back page;

  • your comments in response to an article or other item; and/or

  • your suggestion for a topic for us to consider.

One of the items available in our store is the gorgeous “Reflections” e-book which contains over 120 pages of beautiful photos and includes inspiring quotes and Bible verses to lift your spirits as well as to challenge you in your walk. Here’s the link to buy this lovely e-book through our shop. (At present it’s only available in flippable format to view on a third party website.)

Your purchase will help to support this ministry. Thank you for your kind consideration.

Join our Prayer Network Team

One of the most important things you can do for SPAG Magazine is pray for us. We need prayer to not only increase our readership, but to enable God to reach out to Christians and Christian leaders across the world, with articles which will encourage, inspire and challenge them.

We also need your prayers for enough finances to keep SPAG Magazine going.

If you’re interested in joining our prayer network, you can become a member on Facebook on this link.

Can 73¢ a day really help SPAG Magazine?

While we’ve recently overhauled some expenses to reduce costs, there are still lots of costs we need to cover to ensure we keep SPAG Magazine available and to provide it to you for free. Presently all outstanding costs are met by our Editor, Vicki Nunn who has a limited income on a disability pension. Yep, it’s almost like she pays you to read it.

Our total operating costs per quarter are around AU$662. If ten people could contribute just 73¢ a day for a year, all of our operating costs would be met. Would you consider being one of those ten people? (Perhaps you could ask nine people from your church or singles group to make up the remainder.)

73¢/day x 10 people/year = all operating costs*

Other costs:

There are also a couple of other costs as well including the Glasbergen cartoon and costs for promoting SPAG Magazine, which total around AU$100 per quarter. If ten people could contribute just 11¢ a day for a year, our remaining costs would be met.

11¢/day x 10 people/year = remaining costs*

Your generous contribution can make a big difference! You can also help by purchasing items from our online store: www.spagmag. com/shop.

Here are those 2 costs again:

73¢/day x 10 people/year = all operating costs*

11¢/day x 10 people/year = remaining costs*

Consider also that in the past 18 months or so we’ve spent $2,000 on a new computer and monitor as our old computer had been making strange noises for two years.

Would you make a commitment to help SPAG Magazine in its mission?

Our mission is to inspire, challenge and encourage Christian adults in their walk, and to honour and exalt God.

Email: 

* (NB: Wages for staff have not been included.)

If you have any queries, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Warm regards

Vicki Nunn
Editor
SPAG Magazine


[Voice] The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.


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Believers Who Suffered Depression

Believers Who Suffered Depression

by Vicki Nunn (1 December 2016)

“A pearl is a beautiful thing that is produced by an injured life. It is the tear (that results) from the injury of the oyster. The treasure of our being in this world is also produced by an injured life. If we had not been wounded, if we had not been injured, then we will not produce the pearl.”

Stephan Hoeller

Introduction

Some Christians and churches claim that depression comes from demonic possession, or from sin, perhaps a curse, or because God is punishing us for a wrong-doing. As we discussed in the article “Can Christians Have a Mental Illness,” while on some occasions it may be the result of an ongoing sin, for most believers, depression doesn’t usually arise from these things.

We’ve looked at possible physical causes of depression as well as circumstances which may cause it. It can be the result of drug and alcohol abuse, physical injury or as part of an illness, as a side effect of certain medications, or as a consequence of physical, psychological and/or sexual abuse.

Seeking help for depression is not sinful, nor is taking anti-depressants. Getting over depression isn’t about “having more faith,” or “looking on the bright side,” or “just getting over it.” There is no pithy quote, Bible verse or inspirational saying that will snap us out of it. In fact, there are quite a number of Bible verses that speak about depression, and Bible characters who struggled with it.

Depression is not a new thing – it’s been around almost since day one!

One of the more important things we learned in that earlier article is that a good proportion of the population will experience depress-ion at some time in their life, and therefore it’s likely that many Christians will also go through it.

Being a Christian doesn’t automatically make us immune. Depression doesn’t mean that a person is lacking in spirituality or immature in their Christian walk. Do you need reassurance on that? Then hopefully this article will provide enough evidence to demonstrate that some of the strongest, most faithful believers have suffered depression – and God still loved them.

Depression

Normally in each issue of SPAG Magazine we endeavour to provide an article on one inspirational person. In conjunction with issue 7’s focus on depression and mental illness, we’re sharing a little about the lives of inspirational believers who suffered depression  – from the Bible, from history and also from the present day. This is by no means a comprehensive list, and I encourage you to find out more.

If you’ve ever suffered depression, it may ease your burden to know that profound Christian thinkers, passionate champions of the persecuted and down-trodden, God-inspired prophets, and those who reached great pinnacles of wisdom and strength in their Christian walk, have shared the trials and torments of depression with us.

If those with such resounding faith, profound knowledge and deep compassion can experience the same depths of sorrow, anguish, and moments of doubt; times when God seemed silent to their urgent, tortured pleas for help or for answers; then we, the more common, ordinary Christians are not alone – we aren’t wrong or broken or in need of deliverance. For some of us, it is part of the demanding journey of what it means to be a Christian.

It’s almost freeing to know that these exceptional Christians share such a bond with us. Perhaps it is those who have never known depression and those dark, tormented nights of the soul, who miss out on this distinctive experience. Perhaps we who have known depression, are the chosen ones who God deems worthy of undergoing such an ordeal. Perhaps our journey will be all the better for it.

As bizarre and unreasonable as it sounds, perhaps there’ll come a day when we’ll be able to look back and say “Thank you Lord.”

Whatever the circumstances, depression is very real, and can have a profound and long-lasting impact on us. Those who have never suffered depression cannot understand the terrible pain and suffering it causes.

Biblical Believers Who Suffered Depression

(a) Adam and Eve

While there is no Biblical evidence to confirm it, I imagine that both Adam and Eve suffered depression after they sinned and were cast out of the garden of Eden.

Having previously been so intimate with God, it must have been devastating for them to lose that close and loving relationship. No longer did they know that kindred closeness of spirit, soul and purpose. Adam and Eve knew without a doubt that they were no longer Holy – that purity of their holy relationship with God had ceased to exist.

I’ve heard hell described as the absolute and complete awareness of our aloneness and separation from God. Perhaps in a way, it was similar to how Adam and Eve felt.

Their daily lives of toil to grow food and to survive would have been a constant reminder of the repercussions of their sin, and their unending loss.

The consequences of their sin were later brought home to them, when their own son Cain killed his brother Abel.

(b) King David

There are more than three dozen examples of David’s experiences with depression which he shared in the Psalms. In Psalm 6:2-7 we read words that sound similar to what we might say when experiencing deep depression. Along with the anguish, his words seem to be touched with frustration and even anger:

“Show me grace, Eternal God. I am completely undone. Bring me back together, Eternal One. Mend my shattered bones. My soul is drowning in darkness. How long can You, the Eternal, let things go on like this?

Come back, Eternal One, and lead me to Your saving light. Rescue me because I know You are truly compassionate.

I’m alive for a reason – I can’t worship You if I’m dead. If I’m six feet under, how can I thank You?

I’m exhausted. I cannot even speak, my voice fading as sighs. Every day ends in the same place – lying in bed, covered in tears, my pillow wet with sorrow. My eyes burn, devoured with grief; they grow weak as I constantly watch for my enemies.” [Voice]

(c) Job

We can understand why Job would have suffered depression, after he lost all he had including his children and his wealth. While he must have grieved for his children, he was able to accept that loss was part of life – he’d come into the world with nothing, and would leave the world with nothing.

When Satan was allowed to afflict Job with a terrible illness that not only caused him awful physical pain, he also lost the affections and closeness of his wife, the comforts of his home, contact with friends and loved ones in his community, and was cast out of his home town because of his disease.

Here was a different sort of trauma to the losses he’d suffered earlier. This next step meant that he’d lost everything else including his dignity, his health, and his position within society – he was even mocked by low-life people because of how far he’d fallen from God’s grace.

Additionally, he was constantly in pain which would have affected every physical movement and would likely have plagued his sleep. Lack of sleep and relentless pain alone can cause depression, but the added losses and indignities would have piled up upon his already low spirits.

He’d lived a good life and had tried to be obedient to God. When he was suffering so terribly, he questioned God, demanding a response from Him about what he’d done to deserve such harsh treatment. Doesn’t that sound a lot like what most of us would probably do in Job’s situation?

We can almost hear the anger and perhaps even a little touch of rebuke in his voice in Job 6:8-10:

“If only my one request were answered, if only God would grant me the fulfilment of my only hope: That God would be willing to crush me, to kill me, that God would release His hand and cut me off.


At least then I would have a crumb of consolation, one source of joy in the midst of this relentless agony: I never denied the words of the Holy One in my pain.”
[Voice]

We can hardly blame or judge Job for feeling angry with God. In fact, that kind of a reaction has been around since the time of Cain and Abel, when Cain became angry upon God asking where his brother was.

We can still love God and feel angry and upset with Him. In fact, it really isn’t a surprising response when we’re obedient and go through difficulties and pain and don’t understand why we’re suffering.

Eventually God healed Job and restored his blessings including more children and wealth, and a long, healthy life.

For most of us though, restoration of good health, the return of our wealth, or a child or a partner to replace one we’ve lost, don’t usually happen, and our pain and suffering may remain with us.

(d) Elijah

Elijah was one of several people in the Bible who suffered depression. Here was a man that saw some incredible miracles including ravens sent by God to feed him when he was hungry; provision of food for himself, a widow and her son during a famine; and then Elijah raised the woman’s son from the dead after he passed away.

On another occasion he prayed to God to send fire down from heaven to burn up his sacrifice, to show His power to Baal’s prophets and to the Israelite people. The Israelites saw God’s power and were filled with fear, awe and wonder.

In the same chapter we read that he was able to supernaturally run faster than Ahab who’d left earlier in his chariot!

Despite all of those amazing miracles, he knew and trusted God, and yet Elijah sunk into a terrible depression, even seeking to die.

In 1 Kings 19:4 we read:

“He journeyed into the desert for one day and then decided to rest beneath the limbs of a broom tree. There he prayed that his life would be over quickly and that he would die there beneath the tree.

Elijah: I’m finished, Eternal One. Please end my life here and now, even though I have failed, and I am no better than my ancestors.” [Voice]

After he overcame his depression, Elijah continued in his work for God, and took on Elisha as his apprentice. Later, as his time on earth drew to a close we read in 2 Kings 2:11b:

“A blazing chariot pulled by blazing horses stormed down from the heavens and came between Elijah and Elisha. Then Elijah was swept up into heaven by the fiery storm.” [Voice]

God favoured Elijah so highly, that he took him straight up to heaven! Surely then we must consider that depression is no hindrance to being close to God, or for God to accept each of us completely, or for us to be able to do His work.

(e) Other Bible People

You may like to read about other Bible people who suffered depression, such as: Jeremiah; Hannah; Jonah; and Jesus.

The night before His crucifixion, Jesus spent time in prayer, His spirit in distress. While not necessarily depression, He was in extreme anguish so great, that he sweated drops of blood.)

Christians in History Who Suffered Depression

(a) C.S. Lewis

Most of us know Lewis’ work from his beloved Narnia series. Lewis, was a great Christian thinker who also wrote books on theology, and yet for such an intellectual who understood God so well, he suffered depression.

After his wife died of cancer, just three years after they married, he wrote of his experience, when he desired an answer or some kind of sign from God:

“…But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become.” (“A Grief Observed.”)

Lewis struggled to connect with God during his difficult days, to focus his heart and mind on God, just as many of us do. In his book, “A Grief Observed,” he said of his suffering:

“God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t. In this trial He makes us occupy the dock, the witness box, and the bench all at once. He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down.”

And when it seemed to him that God wasn’t responding:

“’Knock and it shall be opened.’ But does knocking mean hammering and kicking the door like a maniac?”

(b)  Mother Teresa

The compassionate and caring nun, Mother Teresa is often presented to the world as an iconic image of supreme Christian service, of one who was content in her work, faithful in her service and unwavering in her devotion to God.

There was also the Mother Teresa that few of us know, who suffered depression and struggled to find God, especially during periods of dark despair, but her soul hungered for Him even when she didn’t sense His presence.

In her book “Come Be My Light,” (edited by Brian Kolodiejchuk, MC) she said:

“I want to smile even at Jesus and so hide if possible the pain and the darkness of my soul even from Him.”

And later she wrote:

“With regard to the feeling of loneliness, of abandonment, of not being wanted, of darkness of the soul, it is a state well known by spiritual writers and directors of conscience. This is willed by God in order to attach us to Him alone, an antidote to our external activities, and also, like temptation, a way of keeping us humble in the midst of applauses, publicity, praises, appreciation, etc. and success.”

(c)  Other Christians in History Who Suffered Depression

Other well-known Christians who suffered depression included: Charles Dickens; Martin Luther; John Calvin; John Wesley; Handel; Emily Dickinson; Sir Isaac Newton; Charles Spurgeon; Pope Francis; Florence Nightingale; and many more.

Well-known Christians of Modern Times Who Suffered Depression

(a) Barbara Bush

The former first lady of the USA suffered terrible depression in the 1970s. According to a New York Times article, she sometimes had to stop her car on shoulders of the highway because she feared that:

“…she might deliberately crash the vehicle into a tree or an oncoming auto.”

(b) Joyce Meyer

Joyce was abused as a child which impacted on her emotional and mental development enormously, and led to her depression. In her article “Is it Really Possible to Beat Depression?”she said:

“I know what it’s like to be depressed. For many years I was unstable emotionally because of abuse that I experienced during most of my childhood. It caused me to be negative, critical, and easily discouraged. I used to believe that it was better not to expect anything good to happen to me because if nothing good happened, I wouldn’t be disappointed. But I was still miserable and had no peace.”

Joyce believes that we can allow depression to take hold of us, and that there are ways to stop it. She said:

“Depression begins with disappointment. When disappointment festers in our soul, it leads to discouragement.”

(c) Other Well-known Christians of Modern Times Who Have Suffered Depression

Jim Caviezel, the actor who played Jesus Christ in Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion of Christ” has suffered depression.

Others in this group include: John James (Newsboys); Sheila Walsh (singer and talk-show host); Tina Campbell (Mary Mary); Richard Smallwood (gospel music artist); Buzz Aldrin (astronaut); Lecrae (hip hop artist, record producer and actor); Kevin Sorbo (actor); Mel Gibson (actor, director and producer); and Ashley Judd (actor).

Conclusion

For each of us who suffer depression or other mental illnesses, our journey and our experiences may be different, but we are bonded together in a unified Christian experience.

We aren’t alone in our suffering. The similarities of our anguish, the deep depths of our depressions, the struggles of our condition, the unanswered, perplexing questions and even at times, silence from God show us by their similarity that God has found a way to stretch us and shape us, even sometime agonisingly, but purposefully into something more than we were before.

We may not see that we’ve changed for the better, or understand that the suffering that we bore began a transformation within us.

While in the midst of our struggles, sometimes we feel torn, broken, battered and weak with trembling, God isn’t unaware of the battle we are waging, He is not absent from us though His silence may make it seem that He is.

These troubling experiences and depression are another part of our journey. Perhaps we undergo this pain and suffering because there was something deep in us which God needed to change or to remove from us, which required such a forceful and intense experience.

When we take those final steps at the end of our human journey and find ourselves standing before God, instead of asking Him “Why?” our minds, hearts and soul will grasp it at last and we will say, “I understand.” [End]

 

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“That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end. The fog is like a cage without a key.”

Elizabeth Wurtzel

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eye-with-tears-and-makeupsm

 

alone-sad-depressed-mansm

 

After Adam and Eve sinned, there were cast out of the garden of Eden, and realised their separation from God.

After Adam and Eve sinned, there were cast out of the garden of Eden, and realised their separation from God.

King David in prayer

King David in prayer

Job and his friends

Job and his friends

Elijah destroyed the messengers of Ahaziah by fire

Elijah calling down fire from God

Jeremiah in the ruins of Jerusalem

Jeremiah in the ruins of Jerusalem

Jesus and the crown of thorns

Jesus and the crown of thorns

Charles Spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens

John Calvin

John Calvin

Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson

Sir Isaac Newton

Sir Isaac Newton

Handel

Handel

Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa

Bibliography:

[Voice] The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.
Ekstrand, Dr DW, no date, The Transformed Soul “Dealing with Anger Toward God,” available: http://www.thetransformedsoul.com/additional-studies/spiritual-life-studies/dealing -with-anger-toward-god – accessed 04/11/16.
McDaniel, Debbie, 4 May 2016, Crosswalk.com “7 Bible Figures Who Struggled with Depression,” available: http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/7-bible-figures-who-struggled-with-depression.html – accessed 04/11/16
No author, no date, A Christian Faith “Psalm 42 – Spiritual depression,” available: http://www. christianfaith.com/resources/psalm-42-spiritual-depression – accessed 04/11/16
No author, no date, Wikipedia, available: www.wikipedia.org – accessed 04/11/16
Borchard, Therese J, no date, Beyond Blue – A Spiritual Journey into Mental Health: “Mother Teresa: My Saint of Darkness and Hope,” available: http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/beyondblue/2007/08/mother-teresa-my-saint-of-dark.html – accessed 04/11/16
Justice, Jessilyn, 21/08/15, Charisma News: “When Famous Christians Suffer Public Depression,” available: http://www.charismanews.com/culture/51159-when-famous-christians-suffer-public-depression, accessed 04/11/16
Carey, Jesse, 9/12/14, Relevant: God – “7 Prominent Christian Thinkers Who Wrestled With Doubt,” available: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/7-prominent-christian-thinkers-who-wrestled-doubt”- accessed 04/11/16
Meyer, Joyce, 20/12/10, CP Living: “Is It Really Possible to Beat Depression?” available: http://www.christianpost.com/news/is-it-really-possible-to-beat-depression-48134/ accessed 04/11/16.
Skinner, Michael, no date, “Famous People With a Mental Health Concern/Illness,” available: http://www.mskinnermusic.com/home/advocacy-2/famous-people-mental-health-concern-illness/ accessed 04/11/16.
James, John, 2016, Full Gospel Businessmen’s Training: “John James,” available: http://www.fgbt.org/Testimonies/john-james.html accessed 04/11/16.
Heitzig, Skip, no date, Christianity Today “Journey Through Spiritual Depression,” available: http://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2001/february-online-only/cln10214.html accessed 08/11/16
Kolodiejchuk, Brian, 4 September 2007 by Doubleday Religion “Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta”
Wines, Michael, September 8 1994, The New York Times: “In Memoir, Barbara Bush Recalls Private Trials of a Political Life,” available: http://www.nytimes.com/1994/09/08/us/in-memoir-barbara-bush-recalls-private-trials-of-a-political-life.html accessed 10/11/16
Lewis, C.S., Published April 21st 2015 by Harper San Francisco, “A Grief Observed,” accessed 09/11/16

Good Grief: Coping with Chronic Illness

Good Grief: Coping with Chronic Illness

Vicki Nunn

by Vicki Nunn

Introduction

To the rest of the world, any person with chronic illness, particularly when it’s invisible, can sometimes appear to be faking it. We often don’t look sick. We may not be in a wheelchair or use walking-sticks or other visible forms of support to enable us to get about. We may have all of our limbs. We may seem too young, or happy or we don’t complain.

While our scars and our pain may be hidden, our struggles are very real.

People with chronic illness have to deal with many everyday issues due to their conditions, from medications and tiredness, or pain and physical restrictions, high stress, inability to perform normal tasks, lack of energy and much more.

An added and unnecessary burden is the many able-bodied and healthy people around them who are dismissive of them and their very real needs, and the effect their illness has on their everyday activities.

For many with chronic illness, there are long-term physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological impacts of which the world is often not aware. To those with chronic illness, it sometimes seems is if people around them don’t care about their struggles.

Things people say to us when we have chronic illness

Open image up for more details

What is Chronic Illness?

Generally a chronic illness is a condition that lasts a year or more. While in a small percentage of cases, chronic illness can sometimes be overcome or managed, for many people it is a condition they have to deal with for the remainder of their lives.

There are many conditions classed as a chronic illnesses and the effects vary from person to person. Some people are born with chronic medical conditions, while some may only have mild cases or the illness doesn’t progress very far.

For others, the illness comes later and has serious impacts upon their well-being and the way they live. Chronic illness can include conditions such as: lupus; diabetes; chronic fatigue; lime disease; glaucoma; heart disease; cancer; arthritis; epilepsy; haemophilia; kidney disease; asthma; Crohn’s disease; Parkinson’s disease; muscular dystrophy; and multiple sclerosis and many, many more.

Chronic Illness Impacts More Than One’s Health

Financially

One of the consequences of chronic illness is its financial impact and the stresses that result from that. Sometimes people can’t continue their studies or remain in employment which limits their income. Many have high medical costs including insurance, at-home-care, medications, operations, and the need for specialised equipment and even motor-vehicles and home renovations. Sometimes a spouse has to quit their job to provide full-time care for their partner which means that neither receives a decent income.

Sometimes the medical expenses have been so large, that people with chronic illness have had to declare bankruptcy. I can’t imagine how they manage after that.

Emotionally and Psychologically

The emotional and psychological impacts can be huge. As a result of their illness, once physically active people can lose their independence and sense of self-worth. They struggle with depression and feelings of inadequacy and may feel they are a burden to their family and friends.

Others who found their joy and purpose in their careers or their volunteer work, may struggle to find any kind of meaning once their lives are impacted by chronic illness. Some worry how they will manage in the coming years and the thought of the struggles they face may seem overwhelming. This is particularly difficult for single people who have no-one to care for them.

Younger people with chronic illness in particular, wonder if they will ever find someone to love them, or wonder if there is any purpose to their life.

Coming to terms with chronic illness and its impacts can be difficult for many people. Depression is common for those suffering chronic illness. While some Christians who enjoy good health think it should be easy for Christians to shrug off depression (or even suicidal thoughts), a person who daily lives with chronic pain, its restrictions, medications, tiredness and the constant worries about finances and concerns for the future – joy can be difficult to find, let alone sustain.

Living with a chronic health issue and its associated problems day in and day out, month after month and year after year, eventually take its toll. I’m sure even the fictional Pollyanna would struggle to remain cheerful.

For Christians, it may be difficult to forgive God or to understand how He can allow someone to suffer this way. This is particularly true when they’ve been obedient and had perhaps given up stable secular jobs to do His ministry and work.

Grief is Part of the Chronic Illness Journey

Coming to terms with the consequences of chronic illness, and its psychological and emotional impacts can contribute to the sufferer feeling grief. They may grieve for the life and opportunities they’ve lost, for their independence or even the chance for love.

Even if a person with chronic illness comes to terms with the impact the illness has on their lives, they may later discover further problems due to the progression of the illness which they hadn’t considered nor for which they’d been prepared. This can lead to higher levels of stress and new feelings of loss.

Younger Person’s Grief

For a younger person, there may be a sense of grief as they learn to accept the real limitations their illness has on their life. It may affect their ability to study, obtain a career or find love. They will see their friends living normal lives and grieve for what they are missing, such as the normal ability to go out and have fun. They may grieve for their lack of independence and their reliance on others for their everyday needs. They may grieve for a life without pain or restriction, or even the ability to communicate easily.

In many cases, young people may be stigmatised by others in their peer group and may face shame and ridicule and prejudice. One frightening statistic suggests that violent crimes against disabled people are on the rise.

Older Person’s Grief

An older person will feel much of what a younger person does, but for a person who has had a career and found a sense of purpose and joy through their work, their hobbies and other activities such as volunteering, the loss of these due to ill health later in life, can lead to extra feelings of grief such as inadequacy and loss of purpose and meaning. It can be especially difficult for them to see how their life after the onset of the illness can possibly be of any real consequence or purpose.

How Can We Show Compassion to Those with Chronic Illness?

We should understand that it may be especially difficult for someone who has enjoyed their independence to ask for help after their body and health betrays them. If we want to help a chronically ill friend or church member, just ask them to let us know how you can help, and follow it up, particularly if they seem dismissive or we suspect they’re refusing help out of a sense of pride or even fear that others may think they are troublesome.

Please don’t offer, if you really have no interest in following through with it. Being let-down by someone who offers to help, may reinforce their belief that they’re a burden and it may make them less likely to ask for help when they need.

Also, don’t expect that it’s easy for those with chronic illness to perform everyday functions that healthy people take for granted. A great example of what this actually means is given by Christine Miserandino with her “Spoon Theory” (see below):

Spoon Theory

What is the Spoon Theory? It is difficult for healthy people to understand why day-to-day activities can be so challenging for people with a chronic illness, eg, getting ready in the morning can take an enormous amount of energy.

Most people with chronic illness or disability have a much more limited amount of energy than healthy people and therefore have to choose into which activities they place their energy each day.

Christine Miserandino came up with this theory when a friend asked her how her illness impacted upon her life.

You can find out more about the Spoon Theory on Christine Miserandino’s webpage on this link.

Churches and the Chronically Ill

Life with a chronic illness can be challenging physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. It impacts every single area of our lives.

Few churches seem to know how they can help those in their congregation with chronic illness. Sometimes it seems that churches almost forget about these parishioners, particularly those who can’t attend regularly due to their condition. Perhaps they assume that because they aren’t regular attendees that they aren’t serious in their church or Christian commitment which is often far from the truth.

The reality for many with chronic illness is that oftentimes there are specific reasons why they do not attend regularly:

• they are not well enough and/or are in too much pain to attend;

• they have to choose between attending church and another activity;

• simply don’t have the energy to both attend church and do their normal everyday chores;

• didn’t sleep well enough to attend church; or

• feel invisible and/or ignored and uncared for in their church.

Often it is those with chronic illness that need more support from their church family than many others. That doesn’t necessarily mean that someone needs to turn up at their door every day offering to cook, clean or mow, but at least a regular monthly visit or fortnightly phone contact will ensure that the ill person doesn’t feel isolated or that they are looked upon as someone of little value, or a burden.

We should understand that people with chronic illness contribute to God’s kingdom in a variety of ways. I personally know of people who have their own ministries and are a great source of encouragement for their brothers and sisters, and there are others who are amazing prayer warriors. But even those who are too unwell to contribute in such a way are still valuable in God’s eyes aren’t they? Perhaps it’s time then to reconsider the value of those in your church with chronic illness.

Could your church create a group of volunteers who can put aside a couple of hours a month to reach out to those in their congregation with chronic illness? Has anyone within your church even bothered to ask the person/family what specific needs they have?

When was the last time your church instigated a program like this? If you’re healthy, when was the last time you considered volunteering for it? Don’t be one of that group of regular church-goers who give little if anything of themselves, who seem to expect everyone else to do the work.

It is part of Jesus’ command that we love one another. I don’t ever recall the Bible verses saying that we should love one another “only when it suits us,” or “when we’re in the mood,” or “when it’s easy,” or “those tasks were meant for someone else to do.”

Why Does God Allow Us to Suffer?

If you are suffering chronic illness, it is perfectly natural that you may experience a grieving process. Be aware that as you go through your daily struggles, you may not ever quite come to terms with the impact on your health, mind and spirit. As your illness progresses, you may find there are times when you still have to readjust to new losses and problems.

Remember though, that God sees it all, and even when you feel that you’re alone, this is when Jesus is standing right beside you, His heart filled with compassion and love, His arms stretched about you.

It is difficult for us to understand why God would allow such terrible pain and suffering, especially when we’ve been faithful. We should realise that it’s not some form of punishment, nor as a result of our disobedience. The fact is, pain and suffering always have been and always will be part of the Christian journey.

All we have to do is look back at early church history to see that from the first, Christians have suffered: Paul’s journeys were fraught with danger and difficulty. Church leaders in some of the very churches that he established, later resisted his guidance. Most of the disciples and many early Christians were martyred for their faith. Their lives were not easy physically, financially, relationally or emotionally.

Conclusion

Because we are Christians, it doesn’t mean that life will be perpetually good, problem-free or that we will always feel happy. While others around us may not seem to suffer pain or ill-health, it may seem unfair that we are burdened, but we should remember that it’s not a form of punishment from God.

I say to people that for me it’s “part of the package deal” from God. I jokingly say, “God made me pretty amazing in every other area of my life, so He had to find a way to balance that out.”

While we may never understand why God has allowed this to be part of our journey, we can choose to resist God every inch of the way and stay angry and resentful, but that will not change the situation. Instead it will keep us mired in our depression, hurt and anger, and our relationship with God will suffer as a consequence.

Alternatively, may I encourage you to pray for strength to make it through each day – just one day at a time. Focus on what you can do in the short-term. Ask for courage and to regain your joy. Tell God about how you’re feeling – He won’t feel angry or upset with you. He won’t turn His back on you if you admit any negative emotions towards Him. Jesus Himself understands where you are coming from because of His own personal experiences and suffering as a human being.

Perhaps through your struggles, you will become a powerful leader for God, whether as a prayer warrior or through a ministry, or you may inspire others with your courage and grace. Perhaps instead, your simple, quiet faith will be motivation for others to persevere during their own trials and struggles.

So …. hold on! Just hold on and keep going. Perhaps there will be days when all you have to grasp onto is God’s promise that one day you’ll cast off this broken body and be made brand new.

Even if your life feels grey because of illness, there’s no grey in your relationship with God. His unwavering love for you shines as brilliantly as the brightest rainbow. You are His own child. His heart aches to see your pain.

You aren’t just another face in the crowd. He hears your voice – He personally knows your voice – because you are His beloved!

Bibliography

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/turning-straw-gold/201403/the-extra-burdens-faced-young-people-chronic-illness author: Toni Bernhard 2014

http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/ author: Christine Miserandino 2016

How To Make Sure You Mess Up Your Date!

How To Make Sure You Mess Up Your Date!

So you’re going out on a date?
Are you a bit out of practice? Feeling anxious?

To ensure you never go out again, or find anyone remotely willing to ever want to marry you, SPAG Magazine presents a collection of some of the best ways to make sure that you mess up your date!

How to Mess Up Your Date Cartoon

For the Men:

  • Go to a restaurant where they serve messy food, such as ribs. That way you can show your date how little you care about society’s restrictive conventions such as cleanliness and good manners, by ensuring that you spill food down the front of your clothing. You might also like to lick off any sauce you drop onto your shirt. Better yet, wear dirty clothing so it’ll save you having to wash it twice.
  • Take her to a sports bar when there’s a game on, or to a live boxing match. She’s going to have to get used to you being glued to the TV after you get married, so she’d better learn to accept who you are from the beginning.
  • Go to a shooting range. It’s never too soon to show her how manly you are.
  • Take her along for an evening out with your mates. She’ll need to understand how important they are to you.
  • Invite her over to your apartment, and then expect her to cook and clean. She’s a woman after all and that’s what she’ll be doing once you’re married.
  • Take her to an exercise class so you can flex your muscles, and she can appreciate your manly sweat and odour.
  • Wherever you go, make sure you comment about every other woman you see. That way she’ll know what she has to measure up to, to know that she deserves you.

For the Ladies:

  • Take him shopping. At some point he’s got to accept how important shopping is to a girl, and if he hasn’t the stamina for it, than he’s not the man for you.
  • Take him to look at the babies in a hospital. One day he may be the father of your children and you want to know how he feels about kids.
  • At every opportunity, ask him to hold your handbag. In fact, really test him by bringing along your girliest, most glamorous bag. Eventually he’s going to have to overcome his stupid, manly pride anyway.
  • If you’re into extreme sports, take him along to an activity to see whether he’s a cry-baby, and of course don’t date him again if he wets his pants or runs away. If he does run off, phone or text him later and tell him he’s a ‘sissy!’

For First Dates:

  • Take them to meet your parents or your own children (if you’re older.) You might as well get that one over as quickly as possible, and if they survive the encounter they’ll prove they’re worth putting more effort into.
  • Go to a night-club. That way you won’t have to think of something to talk about because of the noise levels and the added bonus is you can show off your incredible dancing skills!
  • Have your meal at a fast-food restaurant. This could work out even better if you have a ‘two for one’ coupon and expect your date to have the exact same meal as you. How wonderful it would be to share the same taste experience, and all for half price! And imagine, it’ll be a special first date that you can tell your grandchildren about.
  • If you know very little about the other person, go to a restaurant because you can spend the entire time trying to fill the awkward silences, and wishing that the uncomfortable night was over. Wouldn’t that be a delightful way to start your relationship?
  • Invite the other person to go camping:
    • you’ll get to see the other person at their worst: dirty, uncomfortable; and bitten by mosquitoes or something even nastier, and
    • you can secretly enjoy yourself by letting the other person worry all weekend that you’ll suddenly turn into a crazed serial killer.
  • If you’re feeling particularly lazy and couldn’t really be bothered putting in the effort of making conversation, go to a movie where you’ll hardly get the chance to talk at all. Then before you know it, the movie will be over and you can go home without having put together more than a dozen sentences.
  • Don’t bother getting dressed up: wear your thongs or your favourite shirt which shows off your delightful beer gut, because this is who you are, so they can take it or leave it.
  • Be as fake as possible because you don’t want them to see the real you:
    • If you’re a man, ensure you open doors for her and treat her with respect and courtesy, so that you can lull her into believing you’re a good bloke. Once you’ve hooked her, you can drop all that garbage;
    • If you’re a woman, let the man choose the meal and lead the conversation, because you don’t want him to think you’re too pushy or domineering;
    • Pretend you are a genuinely caring and considerate person, but show your true colours in the way you treat others, such as the waiter;
  • Expect sex on a first date. In fact, talk about sex as often as possible and share the way you view men/women in relation to sex. You are an incredible lover so they should know they’re in for a remarkable experience.
  • Talk incessantly about yourself, and if your date does manage to get a word in, belittle each one of their comments.
  • Take along your mother … or your invisible friend.
  • Finally, if all else fails: complain, criticize and boast, snort, pick your nose, and scratch your crotch and if by the end of the evening your date is still there, try to squeeze out a fart or two. If they hang around after that, they’re a keeper!

* * * * * * * *

Seriously though…My Dates Never Work Out! What Should I Do?

So not every date you’ve ever been on has been wonderful. In fact some of them may have been excruciatingly painful, awkward or embarrassing, but don’t give up. It’s kind of like eating something that doesn’t agree with you – after it’s over, you’ll feel better, and realise that not everything you eat is going to make you feel ill!

And consider also that if you’re last date was seriously awful, then the next one surely has got to be an improvement.

Where Should We REALLY Go On Our Date?

  • Consider a comedy club, as long as the acts aren’t tacky or vulgar. That way you can avoid long awkward silences which both parties will feel that they have to fill. Instead you’ll both have a laugh, and in between sets you’ll have something to share and talk about. And what a positive way to start off your relationship.
  • Ten-pin bowling might sound nerdy and old-fashioned, but it’s a relaxed way to get to know each other without any pressure. You’ll have breaks in between playing to talk so it’s likely to be less awkward. Just keep the boasting about your scoring to a minimum!
  • Attend a jazz show, or a museum, a rock concert, a musical, an art show, or a play. If it’s not something you usually attend, explain that to your date, expressing your desire to try something different. It will make the other person feel special, and show that you are brave enough to grow and try new experiences, which is always the mark of a more mature adult.
  • Or ask the other person what some of their favourite activities are before you go out, so you can organise to attend something you know they’ll definitely enjoy.

Good luck!

________________________________

Bibliography:
“12 Worst Date Ideas” http://likes.com/relationships/12-worst-date-ideas?page=1 Web 02/05/15
Fetters, K. Aleisha “Men’s Health” http://www.menshealth.com/sex-women/worst-date-ideas-ever © 2014 Web 02/05/15
Gagnog, Tiffany “Men’s Fitness” http://www.mensfitness.com/women/dating-advice/the-best-and-worst-dates-to-take-her-on?page=1 Web 02/05/15