The Lord Saved Me From Despair

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This Is My Story

 

Pt. 1

The Lord Saved Me From the Depths of Despair

 

by

 

Karen Pansler-Lam, J.D.

 

Psychology, psychiatry, philosophy, 

and other humanist pseudo-sciences

are not the answer to despair. 

 

Jesus is the answer.

 

 

 

In my mid-twenties, I was sinking in the stormy waves of depression.

 

And I even seriously contemplated suicide.

 

But the Lord saved me from drowning in the depths of despair!

 

And He put a new song in my heart!

 

 

My Loss of Faith in God

 

The death of my 12-year-old sister began my loss of faith in God; I was 16 years old.  After being diagnosed with leukemia, my sister was prayed for by family and friends.  And many well-meaning Christian friends repeatedly told me that if we had faith enough my sister would be healed; they quoted Matthew 18:19:

 

Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

 

So, we waited and waited for a miracle…but she died.   To me, God did not keep His Word. That began my gradual loss of faith in God and eventual downward spiral into utter despair.

 

I began questioning everything that I had been taught about the Bible.  If Matthew 18:19, wasn’t really true, then was the entire Bible a lie?

 

I grew up in Assemblies of God churches and graduated Southeastern College of the Assemblies of God in Lakeland, Florida, and Evangel College of the Assemblies of God in Springfield, Missouri. 

 

And, at the time of my sister’s illness, we attended First Assembly of God in Lakeland, Florida.  I didn’t understand at the time that Pastor Karl Strader was Word of Faith: “name it and claim it,” prosperity giving (Strader declared we should tithe on what we’d like to be making), Christians should never have a blue day, and other false doctrines. 

 

However, after Strader visited my terminally ill sister in the hospital and told my parents she was sick because they must have committed a grievous sin, I refused to attend First Assembly; and protested going to a church that preached so much false doctrine.  So, we began attending a smaller Assemblies of God church.

 

 

Backsliding

 

From 16 years old until my early 20s, instead of seeking the Lord, I ignored Him and turned my back on Him.  I had a spark of faith during this time, but that spark was slowly dying out. 

 

And I knew that if I died, I was condemned to eternal damnation.  Now let me make this clear:  I was not a drunkard or fornicator or drug addict and so forth.  In other words, it was not carnal rebellion.  It was intellectual rebellion: Biblical truths were questioned, despised and rejected.

 

However, I did not embrace the false doctrine of once saved, always saved to delude myself that a spark of faith would keep me from eternal hellfire.

 

And when I lost a job opportunity in London, it sent me spiraling downward into the depths of despair. This great blow quenched my last spark of faith.

 

Some days I believed there was a God, and I hated Him.  And other days I wasn’t sure if there was a God.  But every day I hated and despised all Christians and Christianity.  To me, Christianity was inferior to psychology.  If you have problems, see a psychologist or psychiatrist, not a pastor. 

 

And I also began reading many of the great literary writers, especially French: Emile Zola, Voltaire, Colette, Victor Hugo and others.  The words of these immoral writers further poisoned my mind against God and “middle-class values.”

 

And I struggled with the demonic temptations of booze and drugs.  I didn’t drink or do drugs, but I was strongly tempted by those demons of depravity. There was a mighty battle raging in my soul to indulge in carnality to drown my despair.  What stopped me?  I didn't want to hurt my parents. 

 

By my mid-20s, I was in the depths of utter despair.  I seriously contemplated suicide and expressed this to my parents at times: “I’m going to kill myself.”  Sometimes they didn’t reply.  Sometimes they said: “Karen, you don’t mean it.”  I answered, “Yes, I do.”  And I meant it.

 

 

The Lord Saved Me From the Depths of Despair

 

Then circumstances caused me to ask myself: “What if Christianity is really true?”

 

So, I turned from running from the Truth, to seeking the Truth. In fact, reading the sermon “The Faith Once Delivered to the Saints” by Lyman Beecher was a turning point: I turned from my backsliding and headed homeward.  Reading the sermon for the first time, I highlighted these words; and they certainly apply to me today:  

 

Multitudes who virulently hated, and verily thought that they ought to oppose, evangelical doctrines and revivals of religion, have been convinced of their mistake and their sin; and have embraced, joyfully, the doctrines which they have reviled.

 

My friend, that is the transforming power of the Holy Spirit! 

 

I began to hunger and thirst after the Truth.  Consequently, I was transformed from someone who despised and showed great contempt for Christians and Christianity into a great defender of the faith.

 

My life has not been easy or comfortable these many years: I have suffered many trials and tribulations.  And occasionally I get discouraged or disheartened.  But the Hand of the Lord has kept me from falling back into the depths of despair.

 

Today,  family and false Christians show contempt for me, and call me a religious fanatic.  But, when I was sinking in the depths of utter despair, the Lord lifted me up and set my feet on solid ground!  I owe Him my life!

 

 

The Lord Set My Feet Upon a Rock

 

Why am I sharing my testimony with you?  Because there are countless souls living in the depths of despair; many contemplate or attempt suicide.  And many despairing souls can’t find the answer to their hopelessness.

 

A Christian wrote to me because she was offended my messages teach and preach that depression, despair and suicide are sins. She called depression a bipolar disorder or disease, like Alzheimer's and schizophrenia. Sadly, as a professing Christian, for over 20 years she suffered depression and attempted suicide several times. Thankfully, the Lord delivered her from the depths of despair after a Christian woman full of faith laid hands on and prayed for her.  

 

Here is my reply...

Dear Kathy,

Praise the Lord for your deliverance from depression! What a wonderful testimony that the Hand of the Lord is ready and willing to pull us out of an horrible pit!

He brought me up also out of an horrible pit,

out of the miry clay,

and set my feet upon a rock,

and established my goings.

 

And he hath put a new song in my mouth,

even praise unto our God:

many shall see it, and fear,

and shall trust in the Lord.

Psalm 40:2, 3

I, too, can sing this song of praise. Years ago, in my twenties, I lost a job opportunity in London and was very unhappy with my life; and lost my faith in God. I became depressed and contemplated drugs and alcohol and suicide. I also had crying spells. I was so miserable! After several years of dark depression, I was so sick of dark days and dark nights, one day I determined in my heart and mind that it had to change. So, I began to make changes in my life. But the most important decision I made was to begin to seek the Truth: Is Christianity the Truth? Well...the more I began to seek the Truth, the less depressed I was. Glory to God! The Lord brought me out of an horrible pit!

Since then I've suffered many trials and tribulations, but have never suffered depression. Sometimes I get dejected waiting on the Lord, but singing hymns of praise and meditating on His Word lifts my spirits.

Kathy, depression cannot be put in the same category as schizophrenia or Alzheimer's. And there is no such thing as a bipolar disorder. Depression is a dark state of mind that causes a chemical imbalance in the brain. Depression causes the chemical imbalance; the chemical imbalance does not cause depression. Depression is a sullen or despondent attitude caused by unhappiness about ourselves and our lives. We are often self-absorbed, hurt, or discontent. And depression often sinks into despair and hopelessness. And it may lead to suicide.

Kathy, the fruit of the Spirit is joy! How can we be filled with joy if we are depressed?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Galatians 5:20

Christians are promised joy, not depression...

These things have I spoken unto you,

that my joy might remain in you,

and that your joy might be full.

John 15:11

 

For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink;

but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

Romans 14:17

 

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,

that ye may abound in hope,

through the power of the Holy Ghost.
Romans 15:13

Moreover, we are to make a joyful noise unto the Lord. How can we do this if we are depressed?

And we cannot serve God and others if we are allow ourselves to sink into despair. Instead, we become a burden to others.

And what a poor testimony to the world if instead of rejoicing Christians we sink into the depths of despair and are despondent Christians. We deny there is victory in Jesus!

The last three years, my husband and I have had many trials and tribulations: losing my job and unable to find employment, my father died causing family problems, my nephew's suicide, and other troubles. We have more to be depressed about than years ago, but now that we are Christians, we put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes we get disheartened, but we dwell on the promises of God, not on external circumstances. See my message: "Peace In Your Heart" @ http://www.libertyadvocate.com/Peace%20on%20Earth%20Pt.1.htm

Depression may lead to suicide. Suicide is self-murder. If someone is truly insane, he is not guilty of self-murder. However, if the insanity is caused by habits such as drugs and drunkenness, he is guilty.

Just as in a court of law, those who kill someone while under the influence of drugs or alcohol are still culpable, in God’s Court, those who kill themselves while under the influence of drugs or alcohol are culpable.

And God commands us: "Thou shalt not kill" (Exodus 20:13). Matthew Henry comments:

II. The sixth commandment concerns our own and our neighbour’s life (v. 13): "Thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not do any thing hurtful or injurious to the health, ease, and life, of thy own body, or any other person’s unjustly.” This is one of the laws of nature, and was strongly enforced by the precepts given to Noah and his sons, Gen. 9:5, 6. It does not forbid killing in lawful war, or in our own necessary defence, nor the magistrate’s putting offenders to death, for those things tend to the preserving of life; but it forbids all malice and hatred to the person of any (for he that hateth his brother is a murderer), and all personal revenge arising therefrom; also all rash anger upon sudden provocations, and hurt said or done, or aimed to be done, in passion: of this our Saviour expounds this commandment, Mt. 5:22. And, as that which is worst of all, it forbids persecution, laying wait for the blood of the innocent and excellent ones of the earth. http://www.blueletterbible.org/commentaries/comm_view.cfm?AuthorID=4&contentID=698& ;commInfo=5&topic=Exodus

And the Word of the Lord declares:

He that overcometh shall inherit all things;
and I will be his God,
and he shall be my son.

But the fearful,
and unbelieving,
and the abominable,
and murderers,
and whoremongers,
and sorcerers,
and idolaters,
and all liars,
shall have their part in the lake
which burneth with fire and brimstone:
Which is the second death.

Revelation 21:7,8

You cannot repent of self-murder and then murder yourself.

Kathy, I thank God you did not commit self-murder.

The Bible never condones us falling into despair and suicide. Paul writes:

We are troubled on every side,

yet not distressed;

we are perplexed,

but not in despair;

Persecuted, but not forsaken;

cast down, but not destroyed.

2 Corinthians 4:8, 9

Matthew Henry comments on v. 8, 9, 13-18 :

In these verses the apostle gives an account of their courage and patience under all their sufferings, where observe,

I. How their sufferings, and patience under them, are declared, v. 8-12. The apostles were great sufferers; therein they followed their Master: Christ had told them that in the world they should have tribulation, and so they had; yet they met with wonderful support, great relief, and many allays of their sorrows. "We are,” says the apostle, "troubled on every side, afflicted many ways, and we meet with almost all sorts of troubles; yet not distressed, v. 8. We are not hedged in nor cooped up, because we can see help in God, and help from God, and have liberty of access to God. Again, "We are perplexed, often uncertain, and in doubt what will become of us, and not always without anxiety in our minds on this account; yet not in despair (v. 8), even in our greatest perplexities, knowing that God is able to support us, and to deliver us, and in him we always place our trust and hope.” Again, "We are persecuted by men, pursued with hatred and violence from place to place, as men not worthy to live; yet not forsaken of God.”

II. What it was that kept them from sinking and fainting under their sufferings, v. 13-18. Whatever the burdens and troubles of good men may be, they have cause enough not to faint.

1. Faith kept them from fainting: We have the same spirit of faith (v. 13), that faith which is of the operation of the Spirit; the same faith by which the saints of old did and suffered such great things. Note, The grace of faith is a sovereign cordial, and an effectual antidote against fainting-fits in troublous times. The spirit of faith will go far to bear up the spirit of a man under his infirmities; and as the apostle had David’s example to imitate, who said (Ps. 116:10), I have believed, and therefore have I spoken, so he leaves us his example to imitate: We also believe, says he, and therefore speak. Note, As we receive help and encouragement from the good words and examples of others, so we should be careful to give a good example to others.

5. The prospect of eternal life and happiness kept them from fainting, and was a mighty support and comfort. As to this observe, (1.) The apostle and his fellow-sufferers saw their afflictions working towards heaven, and that they would end at last (v. 17), whereupon they weighed things aright in the balance of the sanctuary; they did as it were put the heavenly glory in one scale and their earthly sufferings in the other; and, pondering things in their thoughts, they found afflictions to be light, and the glory of heaven to be a far more exceeding weight. That which sense was ready to pronounce heavy and long, grievous and tedious, faith perceived to be light and short, and but for a moment. On the other hand, the worth and weight of the crown of glory, as they are exceedingly great in themselves, so they are esteemed to be by the believing soul-far exceeding all his expressions and thoughts; and it will be a special support in our sufferings when we can perceive them appointed as the way and preparing us for the enjoyment of the future glory. (2.) Their faith enabled them to make this right judgment of things: We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen, v. 18. It is by faith that we see God, who is invisible (Heb. 11:27), and by this we look to an unseen heaven and hell, and faith is the evidence of things not seen. Note, [1.] There are unseen things, as well as things that are seen. [2.] There is this vast difference between them: unseen things are eternal, seen things but temporal, or temporary only. [3.] By faith we not only discern these things, and the great difference between them, but by this also we take our aim at unseen things, and chiefly regard them, and make it our end and scope, not to escape present evils, and obtain present good, both of which are temporal and transitory, but to escape future evil and obtain future good things, which though unseen, are real, and certain, and eternal; and faith is the substance of things hoped for, as well as the evidence of things not seen, Heb. 11:1.

Kathy…

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses,

let us lay aside every weight,

and the sin which doth so easily beset us,

and let us run with patience 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 is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself,

lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

Hebrews 12:1-3


Again, Matthew Henry comments:

Here observe what is the great duty which the apostle urges upon the Hebrews, and which he so much desires they would comply with, and that is, to lay aside every weight, and the sin that did so easily beset them, and run with patience the race set before them. The duty consists of two parts, the one preparatory, the other perfective.

I. Preparatory: Lay aside every weight, and the sin, etc. 1. Every weight, that is, all inordinate affection and concern for the body, and the present life and world. Inordinate care for the present life, or fondness for it, is a dead weight upon the soul, that pulls it down when it should ascend upwards, and pulls it back when it should press forward; it makes duty and difficulties harder and heavier than they would be. 2. The sin that doth so easily beset us; the sin that has the greatest advantage against us, by the circumstances we are in, our constitution, our company. This may mean either the damning sin of unbelief or rather the darling sin of the Jews, an over-fondness for their own dispensation. Let us lay aside all external and internal hindrances.

II. Perfective: Run with patience the race that is set before us. The apostle speaks in the gymnastic style, taken from the Olympic and other exercises.

1. Christians have a race to run, a race of service and a race of sufferings, a course of active and passive obedience.

2. This race is set before them; it is marked out unto them, both by the word of God and the examples of the faithful servants of God, that cloud of witnesses with which they are compassed about. It is set out by proper limits and directions; the mark they run to, and the prize they run for, are set before them.

3. This race must be run with patience and perseverance. There will be need of patience to encounter the difficulties that lie in our way, of perseverance to resist all temptations to desist or turn aside. Faith and patience are the conquering graces, and therefore must be always cultivated and kept in lively exercise.

4. Christians have a greater example to animate and encourage them in their Christian course than any or all who have been mentioned before, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ: Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, v. 2. Here observe,

(1.) What our Lord Jesus is to his people: he is the author and finisher of their faith - the beginning, perfecter, and rewarder of it. [1.] He is the author of their faith; not only the object, but the author. He is the great leader and precedent of our faith, he trusted in God; he is the purchaser of the Spirit of faith, the publisher of the rule of faith, the efficient cause of the grace of faith, and in all respects the author of our faith. [2.] He is the finisher of our faith; he is the fulfiller and the fulfilling of all scripture-promises and prophecies; he is the perfecter of the canon of scripture; he is the finisher of grace, and of the work of faith with power in the souls of his people; and he is the judge and the rewarder of their faith; he determines who they are that reach the mark, and from him, and in him, they have the prize.

...

(5.) What is our duty with respect to this Jesus. We must, [1.] Look unto him; that is, we must set him continually before us as our example, and our great encouragement; we must look to him for direction, for assistance, and for acceptance, in all our sufferings. [2.] We must consider him, meditate much upon him, and reason with ourselves from his case to our own. We must analogize, as the word is; compare Christ’s sufferings and ours; and we shall find that as his sufferings far exceeded ours, in the nature and measure of them, so his patience far excels ours, and is a perfect pattern for us to imitate.

(6.) The advantage we shall reap by thus doing: it will be a means to prevent our weariness and fainting (v. 3): Lest you be weary and faint in your minds. Observe, [1.] There is a proneness in the best to grow weary and to faint under their trials and afflictions, especially when they prove heavy and of long continuance: this proceeds from the imperfections of grace and the remains of corruption. [2.] The best way to prevent this is to look unto Jesus, and to consider him. Faith and meditation will fetch in fresh supplies of strength, comfort, and courage; for he has assured them, if they suffer with him, they shall also reign with him: and this hope will be their helmet. http://www.blueletterbible.org/commentaries/comm_view.cfm?AuthorID=4&contentID=1829&commInfo=5&topic=Hebrews

Kathy, depression is a great weight that burdens us down so that we cannot run the race with patience. Depression is a dead weight upon the soul, that pulls it down when it should ascend upwards, and pulls it back when it should press forward; it makes duty and difficulties harder and heavier than they would be.

Finally, Kathy...

Rejoice in the Lord alway;

and again I say,

Rejoice.

Phil. 4:4

III. He exhorts to holy joy and delight in God: Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice, v. 4. All our joy must terminate in God; and our thoughts of God must be delightful thoughts. Delight thyself in the Lord (Ps. 37:4), in the multitude of our thoughts within us (grievous and afflicting thoughts) his comforts delight our souls (Ps. 94:19), and our meditation of him is sweet, Ps. 104:34. Observe, It is our duty and privilege to rejoice in God, and to rejoice in him always; at all times, in all conditions; even when we suffer for him, or are afflicted by him. We must not think the worse of him or of his ways for the hardships we meet with in his service. There is enough in God to furnish us with matter of joy in the worst circumstance on earth. He had said it before (ch. 3:1): Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. Here he says it again, Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say Rejoice. Joy in God is a duty of great consequence in the Christian life; and Christians need to be again and again called to it. If good men have not a continual feast, it is their own fault. http://www.blueletterbible.org/commentaries/comm_view.cfm?AuthorID=4&contentID=1783&commInfo=5&topic=Philippians

How can we rejoice in the Lord if we are depressed?

Kathy, rejoice in the Lord that He lifted you out of an horrible pit!

Rejoice!

Grace and peace,

Karen

 

Jesus is Still the Answer

 

Listen, friend…psychology, psychiatry, philosophy, and other humanist pseudo-sciences are not the answer to despair.  Jesus is the answer.

 

Jesus can reach down and rescue you from the depths of despair!

 

He did it for me.

 

He’ll do it for you.

 

He’ll do it for anyone who will seek Him.

 

Jesus is still the answer...

 

He brought me up also out of an horrible pit,

out of the miry clay,

and set my feet upon a rock,

and established my goings.

Psalm 40:2 

 

 

 

August 2012

Liberty Advocate  

http://www.libertyadvocate.com/