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Friday: Further Thought ~ Free to Rest — 15 Comments

  1. In Sabbath School lesson studies we often like to draw spiritual lessons and we use our cliches to express spiritual values. Sometimes we forget that there are some good physical lessons to be learned as well. Our bodies and minds are not indestructible and if we do not look after them, especially when they are damaged by the effect of sin, then we may find that it is very hard to get a right perspective on spiritual values.

    This week has been a reminder that rest is an essential ingredient to our physical and mental wellbeing. I grew up with the protestant work ethic. If you weren't working 6 days a week then you were sinning. In fact by the time we left home at 17 we had had one holiday away from home and that lasted 3 days. We went to Auckland - a mere 200km from home.

    During my lifetime I worked for 43 years and while I was working I did part-time study related to my work for 23 years. My one regret was that I never took long-service leave. A couple of times during my working life I have experienced the symptoms of burnout. I knew I was not functioning at my best. After teaching in high schools for 16 years I felt the need for a change. Teaching had become a drag. Fortunately, just at the right time, out of the blue, the offer came to lecture at Avondale. They say, a change is as good as a holiday. And in my case that proved to be true.

    All of us need a circuit breaker now and then. How often, when you have a problem with your computer, do you hear the advice, "Have you tried turning it off and on again?" And often it works. The off/on sequence rests the computer, rogue processes are killed, memory allocation leakages are stopped and the computer starts fresh. And for most of us we need to hit the off/on button on the rush of our daily lives so that we can freshen up and come alive again.

    For the next two weeks we will be studying the importance of the Sabbath and the rest that comes with it. But this week we have been reminded of the importance of rest periods and activities throughout our lives. The old saying goes, "Take time to smell the roses!"

    The really interesting thing its that when we take time out from our physical business we often provide more opportunity for spiritual growth to occur.

    Jesus disciples had been busy, and on top of that John the Baptist was beheaded, What was Jesus advice to the worn out and distraught disciples?

    And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught.
    And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. Mark 6: 30,31 KJV

  2. What have I learned from this week's Free to Rest headlines:
    I am glad that they are no longer called "lessons" but study guides that inspire and intrigue and invite us to dig deeper into the Word of the LORD.
    We are also blessed to have inspired commentary from Ellen White's Great Controversy series to provide background to these events.
    These gems caught my attention - what about you?
    From paralytic - it was to prove Jesus had power to forgive sins and that healing of the soul was more important than healing the body.
    From Elijah - he thought the dramatic show down was the climax of his work for the healing of the 10 tribes of Israel but it was only the beginning.

  3. I greatly prefer the proactive, pragmatic approach, preventing unwanted things from occurring in the first place. If an event finds me unprepared, I immediately look to resolve the problem. I do not waste time by complaining or pointing the finger, though I do get a bit anxious to see things come back to ‘normal’ rather sooner than later; I relish peace, which to me is rest!

    This is also how I approach my relationship with my heavenly Father; I never leave His side. Mrs. White suggests: ‘singing and making melody to God in one's heart’, that’s me! It is encouraging to find this simple advice coming from someone who has experienced complex challenges in her life.
    He offered to live in my heart and I accepted His offer; He lightes my path and directs me in everything I do; after all, we are family. I also found that keeping my life simple leaves room for staying flexible. It is probably everyone’s experience that the more ‘responsibilities’ we accept, the more pressure we experience to ‘perform’, which can exhaust even the best equipped person.
    I enjoy gardening very much; maybe it’s because I can just pull up the weeds without feeling remorse – its therapeutic. 😊

    Opinion, Observation, Comments to questions:
    1 – To establish a Praise, Worship, and Prayer time where all participants sing praises addressing Him personally straight from their heart.
    2 – It does not make sense not to be open and honest with the Father because He knows every thought of every heart anyway. It might help to point this out as fact, reminding ourselves to keep peace with each other. I would not support an open forum in which very private, personal issues are being addressed. They could be addressed in that small circle of friends sharing a personal Praise, Prayer and Worship time.
    3 – Stating facts, looking at things squarely is the beginning of addressing their solution. Intercessory prayer is always a blessing, though most helpful when done in the presence of the person prayed for; it will encourage/invite this person’s own prayer.
    4 – To be open and honest about one’s challenges, asking help from a trusted friend to come alongside to help carry the burden is essential in times of challenges. We are one another’s brothers and sisters, called to carry one another’s burden; there is no shame in reaching out for help!
    5 - My great hope would be that my heavenly Father will make His presence known in all its glorious forms; giving me a grateful and humble spirit to praise Him in all circumstances.

    • Brigitte, I would suggest that being open and honest with God is not for His benefit, but for OURS. Yes He knows every thought, but do we acknowledge this to ourselves, or do we think, like the fool, " 'there is no god' who sees what I am doing"? Weren't Ananias and Sapphira such "fools"?

      • Yes, Robert - being honest with oneselve is entirely to our own benefit since our Father already knows what we think. It could be that one's dishonesty with oneselve causes more problems than originally present; or could it be part of that which caused the problem in the first place?
        How could we deal with something effectively if we refuse to analyze it first, or how can the Father lead us effectively if we refuse to recognize our starting point from which to walk the path His Grace has layed out?

  4. Speaking to yourselves in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; .......submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
    Eph 5:19-21.

    #3.'Prayer is often difficult when we face depression. Discuss the power of intercessory prayer for those who cannot pray for themselves.'
    Some in the church suffer from Depression. Some spoke about clinical depression- heard it being throw around but according to data, it is only a small percentage of people who has clinical depression. There are other types of depression that we are not addressing.
    The bible said King Saul was depressed whenever an evil spirit came on or entered him. Whenever that happened, he called for David to play music for him to revived him but he still had the evil spirit. 1 Samuel 19:9-10. What about when evil spirit is on/in someone, how do we act as a church? What do we do as a church.
    Did Saul knew he had an evil spirit visiting him and taking possession of him? Read more into the paralytic and the cause of his problems.

    • Lyn, my father suffered from clinical depression. The expression was not thrown around lightly. It was a deeply disturbing family experience and it took years for healing to take place. And there is enough of it around to seriously address it as an important issue that needs to be discussed and understood within the church environment. Part of the problem is that we treat depression as some sort of spiritual insufficiency, when it has a physiological basis. We do not accuse someone who has a heart attack of having insufficient faith. Why make a difference between heart attacks and clinical depression?

      I do see signs within the church that we are coming to a better understanding of mental illness and a growing compassion towards those who suffer from it.

      • Yes, I have a family member who has suffered from diagnosed clinical depression for 30 years, but it is not common knowledge in the community of faith. At one stage while working for a church conference some thought the person was a drug addict because of certain symptoms and medication they were taking. I have chronic ankylosing spondylitis and among other things am unable to kneel or stand for any length of time and thus some have not understood why I don't stand or kneel during services.
        We need to be understanding of people who have physical or mental issues and not judge them.

  5. 1. There is a wonderful book on this subject of mental health which provides an effective strategy for helping such cases, and has shown great success. The remedies found in The Ministry of Healing have brought wonderful relief to many.

    2. I'm not sure what is meant by “openness and honesty in our local congregation”. For a proper personal relation to God and each other, one only needs to learn of Him(Pr 2:1-5).

    3. I would suggest that prayer for those depressed should be for the ability to provide them with practical help and for willingness on the part of those afflicted to follow the Lord's instructions faithfully shared with them. I don't believe that simply praying for one needing help and then doing nothing for them is a useful plan, if we are able to do something. God's people have been commissioned to heal the sick,

    4. If we have faith, we should not be overcome by depression, discouragement, or fear. Giving in to these “feelings” is the result of unbelief. I wish this was made clear in this lesson since it is very important to understand this.

    5. Faith will lead to hope(Rom 5:1-5).

    • Robert, you wrote:

      If we have faith, we should not be overcome by depression, discouragement, or fear. Giving in to these “feelings” is the result of unbelief. I wish this was made clear in this lesson since it is very important to understand this.

      I don't think anyone would ever accuse my father of lacking faith. He was a man who had read the Bible so many times he could recite it. He prayed for his family morning and evening. He was active in the church and he was generous and caring. Yet one morning my mother found him sitting in his chair staring straight ahead, unresponsive to her conversation and unwilling to eat. Depression had hit with sledgehammer swiftness. He was taken by ambulance to hospital where he was treated. It took a long time in hospital and a long recovery time at home before life returned to a sense of normality. I visited Dad during his recovery period and I can still remember his long prayers at worship time about unworthiness. We would have to stop him rambling and tell him that God considered him of great value.

      My mother-in-law likewise developed an anxiety syndrome where she lost touch with reality. As I mentioned earlier we raced to her bedside where she thought we were apparitions from Satan and refused to believe we were even there. She too was a mother of Israel. A shining light of faith to her family, her local church and her community. It was only after she accepted treatment that she was able to recover. We are very thankful for the persistence and patience of the staff who cared for her during this time.

      To say that if we have faith, we should not be overcome by depression, discouragement, or fear, completely misunderstands the situation. People in these situations do not "give in to these "feelings". They are sick. Both my relatives had an organic disease, that extinguished the light that faith gives at the end of the tunnel. It was only when the organic disease was addressed that they could regain their faith and see their way forward. Do we tell someone with appendicitis to grit their teeth and exercise their faith? We don't tell them to resist the feeling of pain with faith so they will get better. We recognise it as an organic disease that requires surgery.

      In my lifetime I have seen many people suffer from mental breakdowns, depression, anxiety. And in some cases that has lead to suicide. In Australia the high rate of unexpected suicides from undetected depression has lead to the RUOK movement. Just the simple action of checking on your mates now and then and being able to ask,"Are you OK?" shows compassion for those who need support. This is something we as Christians need to put into practice.

  6. Robert, you wrote,

    If we have faith, we should not be overcome by depression, discouragement, or fear. Giving in to these “feelings” is the result of unbelief.

    This sounds a bit judgmental to me from someone who seems to have no apparent understanding of how real clinical depression functions.

    People suffering from depression are not necessarily unbelieving.

    You suggest people praying for those suffering from depression should be ready "to provide them with practical help." I can only hope that, with your present attitude and understanding, you don't try to "provide them with practical help" because you could do more harm than good.

    From my personal experience of suffering from depression for more than a year, I can positively say that it had nothing to do with my believing or not believing in God.

    Depression is actually related to chemical changes in the brain. While anti-depressant drugs have a poor record of long-time results, they are sometimes necessary in the short run to enable people to make lifestyle changes, and even Dr. Neil Nedley acknowledges that some people may need to take small maintenance doses of drugs for a long time. (Just to let our readers know, Dr Nedley's Depression and Anxiety Recovery program https://www.nedleyhealthonline.com/p/depression-and-anxiety-recovery-program has a considerably higher rate of success than any other method of treating depression. I was trained by Dr. Nedley to facilitate such a program and thus know a bit about it. You can search online to see if a church in your area currently offers such a program facilitated by another trained presenter.)

    The interesting thing is that Dr. Nedley mainly applies the Eight Laws of Health to treating depression. He demonstrates just how each of these contributes to combating depression, thus generating enough belief and faith in his patients that they will actually make the necessary changes in lifestyle.

    I can't tell all my story here, but finding out that, unbeknownst to me, the "whole-wheat flour" which we used to bake our bread was only white flour with additional bran, really helped me balance out my diet. (We bought a grain mill and ground our own flour. Besides that, as far as I knew I had been following the Eight Laws of Health.) And, yes, I also changed my pattern of thinking. It all helped me beat depression a little sooner than the typical two-year period after which many episodes of depression resolve themselves.

    Our readers may learn to understand depression and its treatment better by watching some of Dr. Nedley's lectures on Youtube.

  7. Today's lesson states: "We often struggle to be open and honest before God."

    What are your thoughts as to why people often struggle with this?

  8. In general, there is a slowly growing appreciation of the need to those who seek support and assistance (within various contexts) regarding what they do and do not experience as beneficial support and assistance.

    This week's lesson has touched on the topic of mental health within a Christian context. So I thought a good way to conclude this week's study would be to ask for thoughts regarding the following two questions:

    1) What are some of the barriers that may exist within a Christian community that would inhibit someone from sharing their mental health challenges?

    2) What suggestions do you have for how a Christian community might instead foster an environment that is truly supportive for those experiencing mental health challenges?

    Hopefully some of the ideas and suggestions presented may be able to be discussed in Sabbath School classes this Sabbath that might lead to some informed practical changes...

  9. We have a lot of opinions, but very little Bible texts to support our opinions for this Friday study guide comments. One text that comes to mind without the word search is: Psalms 42:11. Most of the Bible translations use 'cast down', for 'depression'. I love the verse, because right with in the text is the answer as to why our souls may be cast down, why there is turmoil inside. What a beautiful simple answer: "Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God."

    Looks like Brigitte, and Sister White like King David cherish simple answers too. "This is also how I approach my relationship with my heavenly Father; I never leave His side. Mrs. White suggests: ‘singing and making melody to God in one's heart’, that’s me! It is encouraging to find this simple advice coming from someone who has experienced complex challenges in her life."

    And I would add that they also have much detail, or complexity if you prefer.

  10. On Sabbath ---JN 5:17 "But Jesus answered them, “To this very day My Father is at His work, and I too am working."
    Therapy for depression is to work. Usually the sermon counsel for sabbatarians is to not work on sabbath.
    "The greatest help that can be given our people is to teach them to work for God, and to depend on Him, not on the ministers. Let them learn to work as Christ worked." 7T 19


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