I heard a story of a pastor who visited an orphanage in China. The room was full of cribs with just enough space to walk through. The babies ranged in ages from infants to toddlers who were way too big to sit in cribs all day. Immediately the pastor noticed something strange – the quiet blanketing the room. He asked one of the orphanage workers how a room full of children could be so silent. She responded with the haunting words, "for when they cried, no one came."
The babies would cry for a couple of days, but there were not enough workers to respond to their cries promptly, so they no longer communicated that they were hungry, wet, unsettled, or just wanted to be held. There was no one to answer their needs, so they cried no more.
When Jesus rescued me, I wasn't standing in a field of daisies with a backdrop of blue skies. I was in severe distress. My tears flowed heavily, splattering on the concrete floor. The liquid pools that had not yet spilled over blurred my vision. My finger traced the letters "SOS" repeatedly until my fingertip was raw. I don't think I could have fallen any lower than that moment. But I didn't stop crying out His name, and He answered.
Kneeling on the floor that night, He heard and saw my distress signal, and He came. But I need you to know that it was an agonizingly long night, and it had been an even longer two years before He answered my call for healing. I needed rescuing from my mind and the thoughts that took up residence in the shadows. God and His Word taught me how to take back control of my thoughts. And Jesus saved my soul.
Don't Stop Crying
When a ship was in distress, meaning there was an imminent loss of life or material belongings, the sailors would send out the Morse code for SOS, three dots followed by three dashes and three more dots. The ship would repeat the distress signal at brief intervals as they urgently appealed for help. The sea men kept calling for assistance, just like we must pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
In the book, When I Don't Desire God: How to Fight for Joy, John Piper describes "pray without ceasing" as three things. It means we have a spirit of dependence, to pray repeatedly and often, and never give up on prayer. Prayer is our direct access to God and our direct source of healing for our minds. Fortunately, children of God have a desire to pray. Prayer is our lifeline.
"The Helper" Helps Us
Jesus sends us "the Helper" in John 14:26, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." The Holy Spirit helps us remember God's promises, especially in distress. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit was a rare gift only acquired by a few people. Thankfully for us, our gracious God gave all believers in Christ the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. And He is here to stay with us (John 14:17).
The universal distress signal, SOS, is an ambigram, which means it reads the same upside down. Like, SOS, prayer is universal, and God can understand even when our words and thoughts seem upside down. We see the Holy Spirit interceding for us in Romans 8:26, "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." The Holy Spirit teaches and discloses the meaning of Scripture to Believers the way Jesus would. He guides us to keep our thoughts on heavenly treasures.
Losing My Control, Gaining His
When I endured a mental health crisis, there were little signs or what I like to call "breadcrumbs" at the right time leading me back to Jesus. One of those breadcrumbs was the verse 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."
Now, I know what you are thinking. Proverbs 3:5-6 is a popular verse, so it was probably a coincidence. But this verse repeatedly popped up on my news feed, hung on the wall at a friend's house, appeared on bumper stickers, and spilled from the mouths of acquaintances. It became the cornerstone of my healing.
I went through a refining period with God that burnt like hot ashes (Isaiah 48:10). But through all the struggle and heartache, I came to a place of complete surrender. I accepted that everything in this life is temporary, even if temporary, turns into a lifetime on Earth. And that's okay because our reward is in Heaven (Matthew 5:12). But friend, once I let go of my white-knuckled grip on control and accepted God's will, He led me on a straight path to recovery. He freed the enslavement of my mind.
Do Your Homework
Hannah Thompson, LMFT, explained that her therapy patients who see little to no improvement don't do their homework. Yes, you get homework after therapy or counseling sessions! It involves discipline to practice the techniques explained in therapy and see progress.
Transformation happens when you pray in the power of the Holy Spirit and apply the truths from the written Word. "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
We can preach change into our life all day long, but we must “practice what we preach” to notice the results. If you want to lose weight but don't reduce your caloric intake or increase your exercise, then you will not shed the pounds. The same concept applies to an overhaul of your thoughts.
Almost every adult Christian I know has had a moment where their tears have run dry, waiting for God's response. We must continue to cry out before the Lord, pour out our hearts (Psalm 62:8), and push through the inaudible responses. It takes perseverance to continue through His work unseen and discipline to believe when doubting comes so easily (Luke 18:1).
Lovely, God wants to hear our petitions. He wants to work through us and in us so that we fulfill His purpose for our lives and find the peace and contentment only God can provide. We must fight to focus on the good described in Philippians 4:8, "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."
Originally published on ibelieve.com