Understanding Vs Peace

God doesn’t guarantee me understanding over everything that will happen in my life. And that can be a source of great anxiety. I stress about what I cannot control and lose sleep over what I cannot change.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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.
— Philippians 4:6-7

But as Paul so helpfully reminds us, with prayer and thanksgiving, we can find peace. Deep peace in the uncertainties. How? Because the same God we cry out to is the same God who did not even spare his own Son.

I have not mastered the art of an anxiety-free life. But with his help, God continues to show me that he is for me and not against me. And very slowly, I am becoming more at peace with not being in control, because his ways are good.

A Gospel Of Weakness

No, that doesn't mean we have a weak gospel. The good news of Jesus Christ grants life to all who want it. It's so strong that it has the power to raise the dead to life.

But the great paradox of the gospel is that the strongest of victories is won through the greatest of weaknesses.

That Christ would become human, leaving his throne in heaven and become one of us. That a resurrection must be preceded by a death.

And that in order to be lifted high in his power, we would first have to acknowledge our dependence on his grace and not our own strength.

Yet we so often find it hard to acknowledge our weakness. What will others think of us? What if nobody else is going through the same thing? How will it look? What does it mean for who I am as a person, and the worth I possess?

Perhaps if we considered our ongoing need for salvation, we wouldn't have so much trouble accepting our own frailty. And even more, that in the face of that frailty, that God would still deem us worthy of his love.

The truth is that the gospel reminds us we're all weak, but in Christ we're made strong. In grounding itself in that truth, Christian communities have a unique opportunity to love the frail, because at the end of the day, the gospel reminds us that we're all in the same boat, whether we recognise it or not.

 

I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
— 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

A Title And Release Date

The journey is almost ever, and yet now a new one begins.

The book is written, and it has a title!

I'm so honoured to announce that 'Down Not Out' will be in stores in May 2018.

In many ways, it has been strange to read my own book after writing and re-writing, especially when it contains such a personal and at many times raw personal account of a journey that is not that far in the rear view mirror.

And yet, I'm so excited for its release. Excited because it's the culmination of a lot of hard work, but more so for what I hope it means - that many people who need the hope of Jesus in the midst of depression and anxiety will be encouraged to press on.

There will be much more in the coming months, but for now check out pre-orders at:

https://www.thegoodbook.com.au/down-not-out

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Down-Not-Out-Chris-Cipollone/dp/1784981419

Reaching A Breaking Point

Brokenness isn’t comfortable.

A mug that shatters leaves a mess in the kitchen.

A car blowing smoke can cost thousands to repair.

A broken bone causes incredible pain.

But what about us? What if we hit breaking point?

No, that’s not comfortable either.

We can be broken for all sorts of reasons. A relationship ends. Financial stress. The loss of work. A consuming addiction. Depression.

Whatever the reason, we don’t go looking for crisis points.

But these times don’t have to be meaningless.

When we lose the things that define us, we break. And when we lose anything or everything we hold dear, what do we have left? Is there any point going on?

But then, we realise we’re still here. We do go on. Still breathing. Why? Where is our humanity now? Where is our dignity? What do we do next?

Our worth is found in the love of Christ, and the fact we have been intentionally, fearfully and wonderfully made by God. This is always true, it’s just that we can so easily forget it. When we hit breaking point, and we ask the question, ‘what’s left’, we answer with what’s always been there. The love of Christ.

He has not left you. He will not forsake you. And breaking points can bring a profound opportunity to take rest and freedom in that truth.

You may be broken. But it might just be that this time you’re being rebuilt with the right foundation.

A breaking point can also be a turning point.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
— James 1:2-4

What's Next?

We have come such a long way in recognising and understanding the realities of mental illness.

The statistics are too overwhelming to ignore, and most of us know these are real challenges that many people live with.

Rarely do we deny the existence of depression and anxiety any more (which is great!), but a friend sent me an article by Kay Warren the other day which got me thinking.

Those of us in the church have a good understanding of what mental illness is. We understand the broad brushstrokes of what somebody with depression or anxiety lives with, even if it’s something that not everyone has gone through themselves.

In the interview, Kay Warren states:

All church members can play a role in helping people with mental illness. It starts with a decision to care as Jesus would and then commit to receive training so that we can walk compassionately alongside of these brothers and sisters in pain.
— Kay Warren

The context of her interview is in talking about how we can help those who are wrestling with some of the darkest thoughts of depression. As heavy as this can be, she reveals something important - at a stage where mental health awareness is at an all time high, we need to not only recognise that there is a need, but then to work out how to help cater for those needs.

Walking with those who are struggling can be extremely confronting. And yet we’re called to love all in our midst with the love of Christ.

If we are to do this, it’s now right that we don’t just acknowledge mental illness, but work out our roles as brothers and sisters in the church.

Let's start asking ourselves what we can (and can't) do for those in need with the awareness we now have.