3 Lessons about Suffering from the Life of Hannah

Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. Her husband Elkanah would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”

1 Samuel 1:6-8

Suffering is part of life as long as we live in this fallen world.

Discouraging, right?

Well, yes, but we cannot run from the truth.

We need to learn how to handle pain and suffering, not just when it is happening but also before it does.

While we should not spend every waking moment expecting bad things to happen, we need to be prepared. We will lose loved ones, get disappointed,  there are things we want but will never have, or they may delay manifesting in our lives. All these will lead to pain and suffering.

One of the best ways to know how to handle suffering is through the life of Hannah in the Bible.

Hannah wanted a child, but God had closed her womb, and she suffered for it. Now, maybe she could have found a way of living with it, like adopt, but no, there was Peninah, always mocking her.

Are you going through something similar? There is this thing you have wanted all your life, but it is just not manifesting in your life. No matter what you do with your human effort, things are not working out.  All this is making you suffer mentally, physically, emotionally or spiritually.

But, why is suffering part of the Christian life?

 

Suffering is your Battlefield

It is through suffering that we learn how to fight our spiritual battles.

While Hannah had to deal with a real person, that is Peninah; we deal with Satan and his demons. He is there to taunt us just like Peninah did to Hannah. But, not just that he also wants to steal, kill and destroy.

How we deal with challenges is very important, we can let things overpower us by spending time feeling sorry for ourselves, or we can choose to handle our suffering spiritually as Hannah did.

 

Prayer is a Great weapon when you’re suffering

Hannah spent time crying, but it was when she chose to pray that things started working for her good.

Imagine if she had continued crying instead of praying.

If you are going through a difficult situation, then go deep in prayer. We are told to pray at all times. Praying shows that you trust God and are placing everything in God’s hands.

 

Suffering Tests and Stretches our faith

Something that stands out in this story is that God himself had closed Hannah’s womb.

Could it be that God is testing your faith?

Maybe what you are going through is God’s doing.  Peninah may have been busy mocking Hannah, but she forgot that Children are a gift from God and so it wasn’t up to Hannah but God.

God uses suffering to test and stretch our faith.

Hannah promised to lend her child to God. Now it takes faith to make such an immense promise. The suffering she went through stretched her faith to a level that she was willing to do that.

After all that Hannah went through, God blessed her with a son.  While we do not know much about Peninah’s children, we know that Hannah’s son Samuel became a great Prophet in Israel. The story of Hannah should encourage us to soldier on no matter what we are facing.

If we hold on to God’s word and go deeper in prayer, he will give us great and marvelous things that are beyond our imaginations.

Self Care: Being Your Own Caregiver

Self care isn’t just about pampering yourself with a day at the spa or nice relaxing evening after a stressful month. Sure, these things are wonderful, but self care should be planned and intentional, not something you fall back on once you have reached a stressful break-down. It is there to help you mitigate the accumulation of stress so that you never have to reach your wits’ end. It helps to think of self care as a beautiful garden that needs consistent tending to with water, light and proper nutrients. Waiting for the garden to dry up to a dire point and flooding it with water, albeit beneficial, isn’t nearly as effective. Self care can be implemented in any area of your life. Here are two of the most common areas people find it extremely helpful.

Physical Self Care

The physical body is usually the first thing that comes to mind when we think of self care. Physical self care is anything that supports or improves your physical body. This includes going to the gym, getting an adequate amount of sleep and taking care of your dietary needs. It also includes not ignoring medical issues, seeking the care of a nurse or physician when possible and taking any medications you are prescribed.

The goal of physical self care shouldn’t be to have a ‘perfect’ body or ‘perfect’ diet. The idea of perfection is likely to add to your stress which defeats the goal of self-care. Just aim to do the best you can, coming from a knowledge that your body is a temple and it glorifies God to take care of it (I Cor. 6:19).

Emotional Self Care

We are all emotional beings and emotional self care is all about allowing yourself to be and to accept your emotional self. With that being said, it is also about improving your emotional intelligence and learning to let go of the emotions that do not serve you and your well-being. This is no easy feat and takes a lot of practice so, like any other area of self care it is of utmost importance to approach it in a loving way. If you don’t know where to start, below are three actions you can take to support your emotional well-being.

Writing Down Your Feelings

Keeping a diary may seem silly to some, but it is an amazing tool when it comes to expressing and accepting your emotions. Without expression and acceptance emotions are difficult to get rid of. A journal helps you identify the negative emotions in your life as well as pinpoint the situations that trigger their appearance.

Finding What You Enjoy

Make time for what you enjoy. Find activities that you enjoy and find a way to do more of it. Whether this means reading a book in solitude or enjoying the company of friends, it’s important to do what brings you joy in life.

Practicing Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is like a muscle. You have to work on it in order to strengthen it. We all have room to grow and improve our emotional intelligence, but if you find that you are frequently in any of the situations below, improving in this area will make a profound difference in your life and allow you to have a powerful tool when it comes to caring for yourself.

  • You have a hard time identifying what you are feeling
  • You shut down instead of expressing your feelings due to frustration or inability
  • You find it almost impossible to stick to your plans when you are under stress like in the case of emotional eating.

There are many ways to improve your emotional intelligence. One way is by practicing introspection. This involves thinking about what you are feeling and asking yourself questions about why you feel the way you do.  You can then try delaying your negative reactions even if for only a few minutes. If you find that after receiving bad news you have a tendency to eat or drink excessively, try delaying that response. By delaying this response a little longer each time you will find it becomes easier and you will become more confident in your ability to control yourself. The goal here is to learn that your emotions do not have to dictate what you do in life.

The Self Care Attitude

It’s important not to approach you self-care plans from a place of guilt or perceived selfishness. Self care is as important to the people around you as it is to yourself. After all, as the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Self care ensures that your well-being is taken care of, allowing you to show up and be committed to the important people and obligations in your life.

Remember self care does not end with your physical and emotional self. Virtually any are of your life can benefit from self care. This includes your spirituality, finances, relationships and professional life. Find the areas of your life that cause you the most stress and aim to truly care for yourself in those areas first.

Why You Should Let the Peace of God Reign in Your Heart

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:27 (NIV)

A lot is going on all around us today. Unfortunately, most of it is very disturbing. Switch on TV or sign in to your social media accounts and you will see or hear sad and scary real-life stories happening every single day.

Not just that our own lives are full of trials and temptations.

Jobs on the line, family disputes, health problems, business failure, are some of the things we go through.

So, what do we do?

As Christians, we need to live the way Jesus lived on earth. He said we would have trials and tribulations. So that means all the things that steal peace from our hearts will always be there one way or another, but we have to know how to handle them.

Despite the challenges, Jesus faced, one of the things that made Him standout was the peace he had. For example, He was peaceful when people insulted Him, when they wanted to push him off a cliff he slipped away peacefully, Jesus slept in the middle of a storm, and when they tried to stone him, he peaceful walked away in their midst.

Jesus had the peace that surpasses all understanding.

The good thing is you can choose to have that same peace of Jesus in your heart.

Worrying never takes your problems away. It only steals your joy and peace. Life has its ups and downs. You can never wait until everything gets better to live peacefully.

The world has come up with different systems and ways in which people can find peace. But most of the methods are temporary solutions. You need something substantial, and that is the peace of Jesus.

What are you going through right now? Are you letting the peace of God reign in your heart or are you busy looking for temporary solutions?

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

Ephesians 6:11 (NIV)

Here are things you should do to have the Peace of God.

  • Study scripture and Pray

Recognize that God is the true source of peace. Get verses about peace and study them. Meditate on these scriptures until they become alive in your heart. Then ask God to help you in whatever season you are in.

  • Stand firm

Stand firm in the word of God and believe that he has heard you and has filled your heart with peace. God will never fail you. You have to believe that everything will work out for your good in the end.

Defend your peace because the devil will try his best to steal it from you.

  • Focus

There more you focus on what is happening the more distracted you become and it leads to anxiety and depression. Shift your focus from the things that are happening in the world and fix your eyes on Jesus.

You have to let the peace of God to reign in your heart. God will not force it on you. When things seem to be working against you, choose to rest in the finished work of Jesus and let God’s peace rule your heart, let God make everything beautiful at the right time.

Mindfulness

What’s that?

Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.

Why might I practice being mindful?

Mindfulness practices can help us to increase our ability to regulate emotions, decrease stress, anxiety and depression. It can also help us to focus our attention, as well as to observe our thoughts and feelings without judgment.

How can I be mindful?

1. Practice mindfulness during routine activities. 

2. Let your mind wander.

3. Practice mindfulness while you wait.

7 Bible Verses About Mental Health

Brown Book Page

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6-7 
“casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”
I Peter 5:7
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”
John 4:27
“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.”
II Timothy 1:7
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Romans 12:1-2
“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
Proverbs 16:24
“and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind,”
Ephesians 4:23

You’re Not Enough

A big struggle many of us face when it comes to our mental health and self-esteem is self worth. Our minds tell us that we’re not smart enough or not pretty enough, and that overall, we don’t fill the glass all the way. The truth about this is… we’re not. We’re not smart enough, which is why we ask God to give us wisdom. And though we may not be the World’s standard of pretty, God thinks we’re all beautiful. Genesis 1:26 tells us that God made us in his image, and Psalm 139:14 says we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

This crazy idea that there is anything we can so, do, or think to reconcile our souls is a fallacy. God atones for our sins. He wipes away our blemishes. He says we’re beautiful and loved. Romans 3:23 says that we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. You’re not enough. You’re not perfect, and God knows that. When Jesus Christ came to die on the cross for our sins, he fixed everything. He fixed the perfect mess that we all are.

So, the next time you’re thinking that you’re not enough, remember that you’re not, but that’s why you’re under Jesus Christ’s love and grace. 


Links to all the verses in their entirety

Cool Books to Cuddle Up with this Holiday Season

Reading can be relaxing for some people, a way to escape the pressures, stresses, and anxiety of the real world in exchange for another, more simpler one. Books are a great way to do that, so here are some (all of different genres) that make for fun reads!

 

1. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

The History of Love is about an old man who finds a long lost book which connects the old man searching for his son and a girl seeking a cure for her widowed mother’s loneliness.

2. The Prophet by Khalil Gibran

“The Prophet is a book of 26 poetic essays written in English in 1923 by the Lebanese-American artist, philosopher and writer Khalil Gibran. In the book, the prophet Almustafa who has lived in the foreign city of Orphalese for 12 years is about to board a ship which will carry him home. He is stopped by a group of people, with whom he discusses many issues of life and the human condition. The book is divided into chapters dealing with love, marriage, children, giving, eating and drinking, work, joy and sorrow, houses, clothes, buying and selling, crime and punishment, laws, freedom, reason and passion, pain, self-knowledge, teaching, friendship, talking, time, good and evil, prayer, pleasure, beauty, religion, and death.”

3. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is the haunting tale of a man named Victor Frankenstein, who in a passionate scientific frenzy, creates a vengeful monster who is never named.

4. The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank

The Diary of Anne Frank is a coming of age story intertwined in the diary of this young girl, who, in the midst of being terrorized by the Nazis, chronicled her time before and during the war, especially her life in the “secret annex.” Frank, though she died a few months before the war was over, had planned to publish her diary. Her wish was fulfilled by her father, Otto Frank, years later.

5. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

If you’re looking for an easy read with a great message, this is the book for you! Inside these pages holds over thirty vignettes that display the lives of the occupants of a Chicano community, centering around a girl named Esperanza. Themes of hope, hopelessness, escape, and more are wrapped in to create a complex but universal message that can inspire all of us!

 

These are just a few of many books that you can use to relax this upcoming holiday break. Don’t let yourself get stressed out and remember to breathe.

Burnout: What is it? Do I have it? How do I recover?

What’s Burnout?

Burnout is exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration. Examples of this are feelings of lack of control, work overload, values conflicting, impending stress, etc.; however, a combination of these is also common.  

Am I burned out?

Some signs of burnout are anxiety, anger, depression, increased illness, loss of appetite, insomnia, and chronic fatigue. The three overarching feelings burnout can give you are physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.  

How do I recover?

The main things you need to do to recover are free your mind, relax, and regain your sense of control.

Activities that can get Depression to lighten up.

Major Depressive Disorders hits about 6.7% of the adult population in the US per year. Seeing as how pervasive it is, it’s important for us to have skills and techniques top combat it. I’m going to give you 3!

 

Don’t sleep too often. Staying in bed or taking frequent naps during the day only worsens depression and your ability to cope with it. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time. It’s hard when you start, but routine helps!

Eat well. How one eats affects physical and mental health. Eating a good, consistent 3 meals a day (around the same time each day) will help your brain to create more positive thought patterns.

 

Be kind to yourself.  Try to dispel those negative thoughts and treat yourself!

 

So, enjoy the holidays by creating better habits and setting yourself up for success!