CONTRIBUTING FACTORS TO TEEN DEPRESSION

My wife Jenn and I spoke at a Marriage Retreat recently. During the Q & A portion, a couple asked about teen depression – how can we prevent it and how can we process it when it happens to our kids.

As we pondered the question more even after the retreat ended, I thought about three major (though not exhaustive) contributing factors to feelings of depression. Having worked as a guidance counselor and a teacher for many years, these insights have come from interactions with students and parents alike.

(DISCLAIMER: What I will be talking about are feelings of depression and not clinical depression for if felt for quite long periods of time, it’s best to consult a professional.)

The three contributing factors would be identity, family, and community.

1. IDENTITY

In an article written by Culture and Youth Studies, this current youth generation is the first to grow up without ever having seen a world without SMS, social media and similar forms of online platforms. Many of them access social media sites more than 10 times a day.

In a University of Missouri study, they found out that Facebook use was tied to depression, depending on how the users consumed the platform. The term “surveillance use” was introduced. It meant that users checked up on how their friends were doing and compared what they saw in their own lives which led to feelings of depression. They would “size up their accomplishments against others” producing envy that their gadgets, relationships, trips, clothing or possessions could not match up to what their friends posted. Thus, you can see #goals in their comments.

As parents, we have to teach our children that their identity and security can never come from what they have but in Who they have. Stuff will never satisfy. Only One can.

Our relationship with Jesus will be the answer. If we see who we are – sinners and messed up people and see who Jesus is – He who died a death we should have died and lived a life we should have lived, then there can be hope. Gadgets will get outdated. Relationships will come and go. People will change. Possessions will depreciate. And clothing will go out of style. But our relationship with Jesus is the only one that can truly satisfy.

We are accepted, loved and received. We don’t have to perform or prove ourselves. We belong not because of what we have done but because of what Christ has done for us in Calvary. This is the gospel that we are to preach to ourselves every day. We are fully known yet we are fully loved. For God so loved, He gave. He demonstrated this love that while we were at enmity with Him, He died for our mess ups.

We need to realize that we can send our kids to the best schools and give them the best education, but that too will never suffice. We can give them the largest lump sum one can give as an inheritance, but that too can never satisfy. “Silver and gold we have none.” But what we can give them is Jesus.

2. FAMILY

The relationships we have is a major factor as well. Having worked as a guidance counselor for years, children have come to my office countless of times asking for prayer. Much of our prayer items were related to familial relationships. From their parent’s marriage to their relationship with siblings, these are the content of our conversations.

This I can say – one of the best gifts we can give to our children is a strong marriage. There is a sense of insecurity that attaches when they feel that their parent’s marriage is shaky.

Wounds that come from how kids are treated growing up also come into play. From verbal abuse to physical maltreatment to emotional oppression, these are things that can lead to loneliness, sadness, pain which ultimately lead to depression.

3. COMMUNITY

Who our kids associate with is an important thing to consider. Hurt people hurt people. Insecure people attract insecure people. Broken people seek completion from others who unfortunately are just as broken. That is why the first factor is important. We need to know whose we are more than who we are. Because whose we are will determine who we are. As we embrace who God is in our lives, we begin to understand who He designed us to be.

A community who understands this will remind each other of our real value – value that is only found in Christ.

But when young people get together with others who are unsure of who they are in Christ, then they will merely try to feed off each others’ insecurities. Surveillance surfing happens to compare what others have and what they don’t have.

But a community who knows Who designed them and what they were designed to do will ward off emotions that will not be beneficial for the young person.

There is indeed hope. With man, it may seem impossible. But with God, all things are possible. What the enemy may have planned for evil, God has the ability to turn around for good. He can cause all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

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NOTE: If you are going through feelings of depression for more than 6 months, it would be best to consult a professional.

CAN YOU FEEL THE PRESSURE OF VALENTINES DAY?

To some extent, we call can.
That’s probably why CNN tells us that Valentine’s Day sales will skyrocket to $18.6 billion this year.

Why is there so much pressure? A few come to mind – social media posts, friends, culture, Netflix, songs on the radio. These and more can weigh a person down with so much pressure.

While it is good to celebrate love and the people we love, how do we not allow this day to dictate our emotions, lead to frustration, ruin expectations and harass us towards depression?

To the single, here are a few thoughts.

1. Find someone to express your love towards.
I don’t mean to find a date or check out Tinder. You have so much love to share that there are many who need an encouragement or appreciation. From a relative in the hospital or a friend in dire need, looking outward rather than inward may be one of the best things you can do this Valentine’s Day.

2. Celebrate what you already have.
Try this out. List 5 things you are thankful for in your life. Pretty soon. You will notice a change of attitude. You have many things to thank God for.

Celebrate with friends. Go out and watch a movie or eat in Mercato. Just enjoy the company of friends God gifted you with.

3. Enjoy your day.
No pressure. Laugh. Live. Learn. Have fun.

To the married, let me share these ideas.

1. Clarify expectations.
We end up disappointed when we are unclear about some of our expectations. Worse, we compare our spouse to others that we see online. Be secure in your relationship. God brought you together. He is the glue that bonds you. Remember, the two have become one. He is the Author of your relationship.

2. Match expectations with your budget.
Because of the pressure that besets us, we forget that Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be just on February 14. You can celebrate before or after. That way, you even avoid heavy traffic and high costs. At the same time, Valentine’s Day doesn’t just have to be on February 14. It can be celebrated Jan 7, March 26, July 1, September 17. In other words, you can celebrate it every day with the one God gave you.

3. Enjoy your day.
Look at each other and say a prayer. Thank God for each other. Give each other a kiss (or more since you’re married. Ha!) But whatever it is, have fun. You are with the person gifted you with.

To the dads, make sure you make your daughters feel loved and appreciated. If they find it at home, they won’t need to look for it outside. I give my daughter a bouquet of flowers every year during Valentine’s Day so that when a man tries to sweep her off her feet by giving her flowers, it won’t really impress her much. Ha!

WHERE CAN WE TURN WHEN THERE’S NO STABILITY?

Change is constant.
The only thing that doesn’t change is that there will always be changes.

Relationships come and go.
People’s minds waver.
Promises are not kept.
Contracts get amended.

But with all the change that surrounds us, there’s one thing that’s for sure – God never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) That is one of God’s attributes. He is immutable which means that He will never change.

Psalm 102:27
“But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end.”

Malachi 3:6
“For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.”

James 1:17 (NLT)
“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.

Psalm 90:2
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

PRAYER:

Thank You, Lord, that as I start this week, I can trust that in Your unchanging character. You are sovereign and remain in control through all the events of my life and the seasons I go through. You are constant, steady, unchanging and consistent. And for that, I am grateful. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

SONG FOR MEDITATION:

UNSHAKABLE
[Verse 1]
You are the constant, in every wind of change
The One that I run to, my forever hiding place
Take me into Your shelter, safe in every storm
Hold me closer in Your love, never let me go
[Chorus 1]
Who You were, is who You are
Who You are, You always will be
Seated in the highest place
The unshakable King
[Verse 2]
When the world is shaking, when all around me falls
When this heart is breaking, there’s one name I will call
I will always cry Jesus, the greatest name I know
‘Cause You’re my strong foundation, the Rock I’m standing on!
[Chorus 2]
Who You were, is who You are
Who You are, You always will be
Seated in the highest place
The unshakable King
Nations rise and nations fall
You’re unfailing through it all
All creations, shout and sings
To the unshakable King!
To the unshakable King!
Who You were, is who You are
Who You are, You always will be
Seated in the highest place
The unshakable King!
Nations rise and nations fall
You’re unfailing through it all
All creations, shout and sings
To the unshakable King!
Yeah!

SINCE THERE ARE A LOT OF SUFFERING AND EVIL, WHAT HOPE IS THERE TO HOLD ON TO?

Reading the news can be an unhealthy exercise.
From fear to being drained, the emotions that arise can take a toll on the reader.

Conflict. Calamity. Crisis. Catastrophe.
These are a few of what you are bound to read.

Paul declares in Romans 8:18-21:
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”

There is something we can hold on to.
There is something we can hope for.

In his book Simply Christian, N.T. Wright talks about what he would call “echoes of a Voice”. Throughout human history, inside the human heart, we find something that resonates and something that we can all agree on. These would include a quest for spirituality, a longing for justice, a desire for relationships, and a delight in beauty.

QUEST FOR SPIRITUALITY

Dr. Larry Crabb says that the human heart is “hopelessly religious.” We want to worship something or someone. From an NBA player to an achievement, from career to a special someone, from wealth to even ministry. We all are on a quest to find some sort of spirituality.

LONGING FOR JUSTICE

When a young girl is raped and killed or a baby is abused and neglected, there is something inside of us that want justice. No one looks at the situation, glosses over it and moves on with life. Something is stirred in our hearts. We long for justice.

DESIRE FOR RELATIONSHIPS

We will hear quotes like “no man is an island” by John Donne or “Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend” by Albert Camus. These and more are evidences that relationships are part of being human. But no matter how hard we try, certain relationships still end up in some form of dysfunctionality or brokenness.

DELIGHT IN BEAUTY

We are, unequivocally and beyond question, enamored by beauty. From the sunrises to the sunsets, from the face of an infant to the face of a well-adorned bride, from the amazing outlay of the ocean depths to the breathtaking views from the mountain tops, we desire to not just capture the memory but also the moment.

However, no matter how hard we try, we cannot seem to capture the grandeur of the landscape, the angelic voice of an opera singer, the laughter of a toddler or the embrace of a father to his daughter he is giving away in marriage. We take a photo or even a video. It gives us a glimpse of what transpired, but there is absolutely no possible way to seize the moment.

THE GOSPEL

All these “echoes” are met by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We are on a quest for spirituality. In Christ, we have access back to the Father.
We have a longing for justice. In Christ, all injustice and wickedness have been placed on Him. And there will be a day of recompense where all is going to be made right.
We have a desire for relationships. Through Christ, we have been reconciled back to God. And now, we have been given a ministry of reconciliation and forgiveness.
We have a delight in beauty. Because of what Christ did, a time will come that everything will be returned to its original purpose and design. Beauty is going to be restored permanently.

This is the Christian hope that we hold on to. Paul said it in Romans that this is the hope we have – creation will be set from the bondage of decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

Is this what you are holding on to?

52 BIBLE VERSES TO MEMORIZE

Through the years, there have been Bible verses that have helped me in my walk with God. And when they do, I commit them to memory so that I can pull them out during the times when I feel I need them.

The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit.
An undrawn sword has no ability to slay the enemy.
We have been given a powerful tool to defeat the enemy when he tries to sneak in some lies.

There was an article that was written by Dr. Garry Friesen and published in the October 1981 issue of Moody Monthly that helps us commit Scripture to memory.

1. Set time goals rather than number goals.

Rather than endeavoring to memorize a number of verses by the end of a period, set a number of minutes per day to memorize Scripture. You may stay with a verse for several days but when you set aside for 5 minutes per day, you will have a greater chance of success of making this a long-lasting habit.

2. Read, don’t cram.

Dr. Friesen said that this approach is “like cars on an assembly line—steadily being built rather than thrown together in a hurry.”

Read them a few times and then leave it for the next day. We give up altogether when we try to force verses into your memory all at once by saying them thirty or more times in one sitting. It would be much easier to read the new verse thoughtfully and slowly and then set it aside until the next day.

3. Use a dependable review system.

Some use index cards.

Others put it in their Evernote.
Still, others put it on their desktop wallpapers.

But whatever it is, find what would work best for your schedule, routine and lifestyle.

Below is the list of 52 verses that helped me through the years. Hope you’ll find these helpful as well.

————————————————————————————-
2 Corinthians 5:17.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Romans 3:23
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Ephesians 2:8,9
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Isaiah 40:28.
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
John 14:6.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.”
Matthew 11:28
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Jeremiah 32:17
Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.
Psalm 30:5
Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning
Psalm 138:8
The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.
Psalm 77:14
You are the God who performs miracles.
John 16:33.
In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!
Psalm 20:7.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God
Psalm 121:3.
He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.
Isaiah 26:3.
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
Psalm 54:4.
Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.
Psalm 73:23.
I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
Psalm 30:5.
Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
Psalm 100:5.
The Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
1 Cor 15:58.
Stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Prov 16:7.
When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.
Is. 43:2.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.
Psalm 84:11.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.
Psalm 16:2.
I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”
Isaiah 41:13
I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
Philippians 4;6-7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:28
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
2 Corinthians 9:8
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
Deuteronomy 8:18
You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth.
Jeremiah 29:13
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
Psalm 46:1
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Romans 1:16
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.
Psalm 73:26
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Isaiah 40:31
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
1 Peter 5:5
“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Isaiah 59:1
Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save,
nor his ear too dull to hear.
Matthew 18:19
“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.
Psalm 103:1-5
Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
John 3:16
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Jeremiah 31:3-4
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
Proverbs 16:9
In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.
Proverbs 16:3
Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and he will establish your plans.
2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
Proverbs 22:6
Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Psalm 56:3
When I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
Romans 5:8
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 8:38-39
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

FAILURE DOESN’T MAKE YOU A FAILURE

This week, I heard about many students who felt discouraged after they didn’t make it to the university that they applied for. They felt that their dreams have been dashed.

There are those who started the year with bad news – losing a loved one.
Others, business hasn’t been growing. In fact, it’s been taking a nose dive.

But whatever our situation may be, know that our current reality does not determine our identity.

Jesus does.

Neither does your past failures.
Your past doesn’t determine who you are.

Being “in Christ” determines our identity.

Our theme this week for our prayer and fasting globally is “In Christ.”

“In Christ” determines our new identity. Being in Christ not only redefines who we are, but it also supersedes all other possible definitions. Gender, culture, nationality, ethnicity, political affiliation – every label is secondary and subservient to our identity in Christ.” (Ephesians: In Christ Manual)

Remember, His image is stamped on you. Who you are is because of who He is not what you have done or have failed to do.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)

HOW TO BE BLESSED THIS 2018


What does it mean to be blessed? Different people have different definitions of what it means to be blessed.

– Getting a parking in SM Megamall on a Sunday?
– Buying the bag you’ve always wanted on sale?
– Landing your dream job?
– Getting your dream house paid for?
– Finally getting a boyfriend?

Psalm 1:3 tells us that a blessed man is “like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE BLESSED?

Fruitful.
A blessed person is fruitful. This doesn’t just speak of material blessings for it goes way beyond that. Fruit is excess life. Fruit comes when there’s life. A blessed person is a person full of life where people desire to be with.

Flourishing.
A blessed person is like a tree where its leaves don’t wither. He is sustained because it is connected to the life source – water. You and I will only be able to flourish and be sustained as we are connected to the Life Source – the Living Water, which is Christ.

Prosperous.
Success follows a person that is blessed. It happens because God is the One who leads him.

HOW TO GET TO THAT POINT?

How do achieve becoming a blessed person?

The Psalmist tells us first what he is not.

He does not walk in the counsel of the wicked.To walk with someone means to participate in whatever they’re doing. Furthermore, it means to do life with that person. A blessed man does not have those who reject God and His Word as his best friend.

He does not stand in the way of sinners.
To stand in the way means to be on the same path. They may not necessarily be the best of friends, but they end up doing the same things. They end up going the same direction as they do the same things.

Romans 1:32 (NLT) says, “They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.”

He does not sit in the seat of scoffers.
To sit in the seat of scoffers means to be in fellowship with them and embrace all that they embrace. They end up living the same values in the end.

WHAT THEN IS THE WAY TO BLESSING?

If there was a simple life hack to a blessed 2018, it would be this – delight and meditate.

“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law, he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:2)

A blessed man delights and meditates in God’s Word. They go hand in hand like pen and paper, comb and hair, lock and keys, ball and glove. The more we delight in God’s Word, the more we will meditate. The more we meditate, the more we will delight in it.

But this will have to stem from a relationship with God. Apart from a relationship, it will be a chore and an obligation.

Think of a young man pursuing a girl in courtship. He can’t keep himself from being with her and talking to her. He loves to talk to her and so does she. Communication is key to any relationship. Without communication, it will die.

We speak to God through prayer and God speaks to us through His Word. But without the relationship, reading the Bible will become a duty because we have to read it rather than a desire to do so.

As we read, let’s meditate on God’s word. The word meditate is synonymous with the word ruminate where it literally means ‘to chew the cud.’ Sheep, goat, giraffe and the like have chambers in their stomach called the rumen where they keep the food and regurgitates it back to their mouth for chewing. The process is repeated many times.

To meditate on the Word is to read the Word, hide it in our hearts then bring it back to our mouths to speak it and back into our hearts to reflect on.

As we begin 2018, let us endeavor to meditate on God’s Word in a greater measure. Remember what Joshua 1:8 says.

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

 

AS THE YEAR COMES TO A CLOSE…

As 2017 comes to a close, it is natural for one to reflect on what God has done in him, for him and THROUGH him.

Reading through Judges 10, in 5 verses, 2 lives of leaders were mentioned. One of which had this description:

“After him arose Jair the Gileadite, who judged Israel twenty-two years. And he had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys, and they had thirty cities, called Havvoth-jair to this day, which are in the land of Gilead. And Jair died and was buried in Kamon.” (Judges 10:3-5)

Many other judges and leaders were mentioned in that particular book in the Old Testament. Their lives, families and what God had accomplished through them were listed. But these were all that was mentioned about these 2 guys. Maybe the author of the book didn’t have the information or maybe not much was accomplished in their lifetime than just what was mentioned.

It made me think that when my life is over, what will people remember? Thirty children? That I rode thirty donkeys and ruled thirty towns?

What is my significant contribution to the Kingdom of God?
What will people remember about what God did through me?
Who are the people I helped in my lifetime?
How is the world a better place because of me?
Did I fulfill my purpose?

We are not merely called to live life to the fullest but more so to live it according to His purpose.
His divine vocation is more important than our personal aspiration.

WHEN YOUR CURRENT CIRCUMSTANCE DISPLAY THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF A FUTURE PROMISE

What do you do when your current circumstance display the impossibility of a future promise?

This is a valid question. We are faced with a garden variety of situations where our faith is challenged.

God said that He will provide but my mom’s hospital bill has now ballooned to 3M pesos.
God said that He is the Prince of Peace, but there’s so much conflict in our family today.
God said that if I believe, I will be saved together with my household. But my kids are in bad company and are not walking with God.
God said that He gives wisdom to those that ask, but I have messed up every time I got into a business endeavor.

Luke 1:5-25 narrates to us the story of Zechariah. The Bible says he was righteous, walked blamelessly and obeyed the commandments of the Lord. (1:6). But in spite of that, not every prayer item in their list had been checked off.

It is possible for one to live for God yet not have all his prayers answered. The goal is not the gift but the relationship with the Giver. Our relationship with the Giver is more important than the gift itself.

The Israelite nation hadn’t heard from God in 400 years. It’s been 4 centuries since God has spoken through a prophet. The last one was Malachi. But just because He is quiet, it doesn’t mean He has forgotten. He is faithful to fulfill His promises to His people.

Zechariah asked God how can they have a baby for they were in their old age. God was going to fulfill His promise. He will accomplish all that He said He would. It was just a matter of time. And He doesn’t necessarily reveal everything at one time.

There are things we don’t know, can’t know or won’t even know until the proper time. If God showed us everything He has planned in the next few decades, we might end up stressed, anxious or even fearful.

But at the end of his nine-month ordeal, he finally got it. God will accomplish what He wants to do. In the temple, Zechariah doubted. But after nine months, his faith grew and followed through with God’s instructions to call his son John though Jewish tradition dictated that the firstborn was to be named after his father.

Whatever failure we’ve made in the past, God can surely turn it around, covered by His grace. God can turn the marks of failure into memorials of grace.

As we continue with the Christmas celebrations this December, remember that God is faithful to keep His covenant promise even if we have been filled with unbelief.

WHEN WE THINK WE KNOW BETTER THAN GOD

What he thought was the greatest heist in the history of bank robbery became the dumbest.

McArthur Wheeler robbed 2 banks in Pittsburg in 1995. He had a gun but didn’t have a mask on. By 11:00 pm, his video taken by the CCTV camera was all over the news. By midnight, he was arrested. While he was being taken into custody, he was shouting, “But I wore the juice!”

Puzzled, the police asked him what he meant. Apparently, he learned that you can use lemon juice as invisible ink. So he smeared his face with lemon juice hoping that his face would be invisible to the bank security cameras. He was gravely mistaken.

This prompted 2 men, David Dunning and Justin Kruger, both from Cornell University to do a study which eventually became known as the Dunning-Kruger effect. It is when a person overestimates his ability. Those most lacking in knowledge and skills are least able
to adequately assess that lack.

We see this when we watch a basketball game where we feel we’re better than the players or in the America’s Got Talent where people who audition overestimate their talents.

It is possible to carry this over our spiritual walk with God. We think we can do a better job than God. We may not articulate it but we have definitely thought it.

“If only God gave me that promotion, I wouldn’t be in a financial mess today.”
“If only God provided us a baby, my husband and I would still be together.”
“If only God healed my mom of cancer, I wouldn’t be as messed up.”

This is the Dunning-Kruger effect at work spiritually.
But do we really know more than He does?

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NLT) says, “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

We don’t see the end from the beginning, but He does because He is the Alpha and the Omega.
We don’t know how things will pan out for we don’t have the full view of the things to come.

But because He does, then we can have confidence as we trust Him with all our hearts, not leaning on our own understanding, trusting Him in all our ways so He can direct our paths. (see Proverbs 3:5-6)