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Finding Comfort On The Trail of Life

Title: Finding Comfort On The Trail of Life
Artwork by: McKenna McIntyre (@mckennacreates)
Description: Our journey to self-discovery isn’t always a clear path. We may face challenges or uncertainties about the future, but we must remember there is a plan for our lives, and that in this, we can find encouragement and hope to keep moving.

 

 

Sometimes in our life’s adventures we face obstacles

 

Or unclear directions

 

We might feel lost or uncertain about what lies ahead

 

But we must remember there is a plan mapped out for our lives, full of purpose and love

 

“Trust in the Lord and do good” and you will find fulfillment and joy in your journey. Psalm 37:3

 

3 Tips to Comfort a Friend

Written by Sam Chia, Singapore   

The older we get, the more likely we are to face trials; call it growing up, if you will. And even if trials don’t plague us, we’re bound to hear of loved ones who have to face them.

Over the years, I’ve heard from different friends about the struggles they have had to go through. Some have experience things too painful for me to understand. In the past couple of months alone, I have heard of a few breakups, a betrayal in a relationship, and an illness scare.

Although I knew that the Bible calls us to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2) and encourage one another (1 Thess 5:11), it came to a point that I was exhausted. It became difficult, draining, and daunting to be consistently there for friends who were mostly on their lows and lamenting their suffering bitterly and negatively.

I blame it on my own lack of patience or empathy that I got easily discouraged when supporting my friends. But it was also as I went through one disappointment after another (with myself), that I started to reflect on practical ways that would help me persevere on this journey with my friends.

 

1. Involve other members of the community

Recently, a friend told me about her struggle through a break-up. It being a personal and private matter, she was initially unwilling to tell more people about her feelings. But knowing how having another person in the “support group” would help my friend—and myself—I suggested it anyway, and thankfully she agreed.

This new confidant added a new dimension to the conversation, and relieved me when I was just too tired to reply. Having someone else to share the burden and time needed to care for someone allowed me time to reflect and rest, so that I could persevere longer during trying moments.

For me, it was also a lesson that I am not able to completely meet my friends’ needs and that they need a bigger community of people who love them.

 

 2. Give practical tips in addition to pointing them to God

More often than not, our friends who are Christians, already know that they ought to trust God and cling onto His promises through challenging periods. And many times, it requires discernment and wisdom to know when to remind them of God’s truth.

In the meantime, we can also provide them practical tips to help them get through everyday life. While scrolling through Facebook one day, I chanced upon some tips and suggested that my friend do some of them as a practical measure to help herself.  She unfollowed certain accounts on social media, went out to do things instead of staying home all day, and listened to a playlist that I put together for her.

For another friend, who was suffering from panic attacks and insomnia, I suggested some simple counting or breathing exercises to help her get through the moments of despair and long nights. She eventually sought professional help (which was a good decision and something we hoped she would choose) and still holds on to these counting exercises for those bad moments.

While practical tips do not solve the root cause of the problem, they serve as helpful methods to help my friends get back on their feet again, so that they can slowly seek God in their time.

 

3. Self-care

One thing I realized as I journeyed with my friends over the past couple of months was that I had  underestimated the energy it took to support someone, and overestimated my own ability to remain steady and unaffected by the problems or issues I heard. I had always thought of myself as someone who could separate what I heard and saw from what I believed about God and life. But as I walked my friends through times of betrayal, confusion, and darkness, I realized that my own fears and uncertainties grew as well.

Thankfully, I had strong support from other friends, and began to value having a separate outlet where I could voice my frustrations and uncertainties as well as obtain advice from—while keeping the identity of my other friends private.

But perhaps, the most important lesson I’ve learned through all this is that I am not my friends’ Savior—God is. And God brings people the counsel and comfort they need in His time and plan (1 Cor 12:25-26). I’m thankful that despite moments when I missed a text or call from a friend in need, he or she found others to confide in. And though that might sound trivial, it is a freeing truth because it shows that God ultimately, is the one who cares for my friend far more than I can ever do.

 

And so I take heart, for the Lord Jesus is the ultimate comforter and understands best the fears of our human hearts—both our friends’ and our own.

I have depression and this is what I want you to know

Title: I Have Depression And This Is What I Want You To Know
Materials: Illustration
Artwork by: Emilia
Description: Depression. What do you think about when you hear this word? Is it just someone experiencing an emotional low or having a bad day? Or perhaps you are familiar with the term, more familiar than you would like to be.

If you’re the latter struggling with depression yourself, we want to tell you that nothing can separate us from God’s love. Even in your darkest days, He still loves you and will save you from the valley of death (Psalms 23:4). If you have never had depression, we hope the following art project would help you to understand it better, and that you would have more compassion for your family or friend who is struggling with it.

Read more about Wendy’s struggle with depression here: http://ymi.today/2016/09/i-have-depression-and-this-is-what-i-want-you-to-know/

 

Depression is a heavy cloud hovering above my head
In God’s goodness and faithfulness, He can lift the fog of your depression, little by little.

 

Depression is a coldness creeping in my heart
Pray that God places people in your life to show you the love of Christ through encouragement, support and prayers.

 

Depression is a veil darkening my sight
In this difficult and dark season, He has been my light, my strength and my song.

 

Depression is days that move slowly and numbly.
Depression cannot separate you from the love of God, even if you feel numb to it (Romans 8:38-39).

 

Depression are nights of overflowing tears and thoughts.
Though the nights are long and filled with mourning, remember that joy comes with the morning (Psalm 30:5).

 

Depression is thinking to myself that I’m getting better one day, and completely breaking down the next.
He is the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction (2 Corinthians 1:3).

My Job Hunt Led Me to Something Else

Written By Joanna Tan, Singapore

Nobody ever told me that life after graduation would feel like this. I thought graduation was about getting myself a job. But as my job hunt dragged on longer than I expected, I started to feel increasingly anxious and lost.

Not finding a job after graduation felt like a form of failure. I felt a lot of shame over being unemployed and I thought twice about meeting up with friends whom I knew would make me feel more discouraged about not having a job. Initially, it was hard to let go of the anger I felt towards people who didn’t understand.

Yet it was during this journey of unemployment that I learned to see what was truly important in my life.

Finding comfort in God

In this difficult time, I found comfort in the stories of women in the Bible who were not able to conceive, such as Sarah, Hannah, and Elizabeth. Like these women who felt ashamed because of their inability to conceive, I felt ashamed about my own predicament. Yet God understood their pain in ways that others around them could not, and He loved them and blessed them graciously. When I felt horrible about myself, I knew that God understood me, and I felt as if God Himself was hugging me.

When sadness threatened to overwhelm me, I read God’s Word all the more eagerly, holding tightly to His promises. I was encouraged and comforted when I was able to see my circumstances through God’s eyes. Though I had little faith in myself, my circumstances, and my future, God gave me faith to look to Him―and to realize that He is the only hope I can ever have. I realized that nothing could make me less worthy in God’s eyes, and I found so much comfort and joy in that. Whether or not I had a job, God loved me. I learned to be defined in Christ alone, and not by my abilities or achievements.

 

Finding confidence in God

At one point, I received a job offer. All that was left was to wait for the start date. But unexpectedly, and though I did nothing wrong, the offer did not materialize. I wrestled for a long time before choosing not to pursue the matter anymore. Though it was really heart-wrenching, I chose to trust in God’s sovereignty and plans for me.

Through this episode, I realized that there was nothing I can place my confidence in. This continues to be a lesson for me daily, that the only hope that never fails is the hope I place in my Lord Jesus Christ. I could lose my job. I could have cancer. I could lose my loved ones. What then? I can only be secure in God because He never changes. Those who hope in the Lord will never be disappointed.

This journey of waiting and trusting has taught me that the sense of security I get from what I can see―such as a job, relationship, or even myself―is ultimately an illusion. My true security lies in Christ.

Jeremiah 17:7 But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.

Finding strength in God 

Though it can be frightening when it seems like God doesn’t care or He doesn’t know, the truth is that He does. One important thing that I learned during the months of unemployment is how valuable God’s Word is. I found so much comfort and joy when I start my day by praying and reading His word. Aligning my perspective with His is how I can face the frightening day ahead. I was particularly comforted by the Psalms, how David called out to God and even brought praise to God in difficult circumstances. Reading God’s Word is the only way to help me stand firm when I’m tempted to believe my anxious thoughts or discouragements from others.

Job searching was like walking in the dark trying to open a door. All the doors I tried were closed, but I had to keep walking and trying, knowing that God loves me and is always with me.  I will not despair, because life is more than what I perceive. Life is more than the disappointments I face. I have found hope and purpose for my life in Christ. I have learned to have this full and complete trust that God will deliver me, just as God delivered King David from death again and again. No matter how many times I fail, God is still in control and He, who is faithful, will definitely lead me, guide me, and provide all that I need in all the days of my life.

Psalm 62:5 (NLT) Let all that I am wait quietly before God for my hope is in Him. 

Job searching was not a season of nothingness. I was not just waiting to get a job so I could move on to the next phase of life. Waiting is never because God doesn’t know how torturous the wait is, or because God doesn’t care. It was through this precious journey of anxiety and hopelessness that God touched my heart and reminded me to re-evaluate the true purpose of my days. My unemployment was not about finding a job, but about finding my worth and confidence in God.

Romans 5:5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.