Martin Zerrudo: When you reflect on the meaning of your own life, the struggles you’ve gone through, how does it make you feel? Strong for having gone through it? Sad for having to still deal with it? What does self-reflection really mean in the grand scheme of things? And more importantly, what do you think God is trying to tell you? Let’s have a Heart & Soul conversation.
Martin: Hello, everyone, hope we’re finding you well, and that you and your family continue to be safe and healthy at this time. When talking about the importance of self-reflection. It’s an area that a lot of people can use some help with. According to some studies, the self help industry will be worth over $13 billion in 2022. This translates to millions of different methods out there meant to help us with how to reflect or how to get through the hardest times in our life. We recently asked on our Instagram @incmedianews using #heartandsoulconversations, what kind of struggles in life have you gone through, and here’s what you had to say.
[Heart & Soul Listeners]
Crippling levels of undiagnosed clinical depression, anxiety and migraines. I thought that was simply how people lived, and assumed that it was normal. I wasn’t happy most of the time, all the way up through high school.
Being in a family that moves from one place to another, we’re trained that our lives change every two years. And so we must learn to adapt. As the new kid in town all the time I had to adjust. I did my best to excel my classes that I got bullied for being included in the honor roll. Even teachers and faculty staff bullied me, even parents who lived near us spread rumors about me. Growing up being the unreasonably disliked kid was tough.
I would say loneliness, though there are those times when I felt the heaviness of being lonely, or feeling like I don’t have anybody there for me when I’m going through a hard time. And just feeling like I don’t have any friends.
Martin: According to betterhelp.com three of the most common reasons why people give up on life are mental health issues, the feeling of not fitting in, and loneliness. And if you listen back to those clips that we just played, those listeners were going through exactly those things. So why didn’t they give up? Well, we asked them, Why didn’t those struggles break your will?
[Heart & Soul Listeners]
What kept me going through day to day and dark nights were singing hymns and praying to God.
It was traumatic. But it was also the time that I learned how faith works.
When I feel like I’m on the brink of giving up, God provides a light of hope. And to know good things and good people are out there. I just have to keep praying and always have that sense of hope.
Martin: For some of our listeners, when it came to struggles, it surprised them how hard it would hurt, especially when it came from a place that they least expected.
[Heart & Soul Listeners]
Being hit hard with my anxiety due to finding out the people I thought were my friends weren’t really treating me as one behind my back. I didn’t expect it to affect me to that extent. But it really shook my mental state at that time. I felt alone and my anxiety made me feel like I had no one to trust anymore. Because despite having the purest of intentions, people will still find something to pick on about you.
Martin: Thankfully, as members of the Church Of Christ, when we take the time to reflect we have the ability to combine our self-reflection and introspection with our faith.
[Heart & Soul Listeners]
But I am so glad I got through that. Crying out everything to Him during my nightly devotional prayers really helped me get through that tough part. And I can honestly say that, despite it being a painful experience, it woke me up to the realities of life. And I learned so much from it. I just always keep in mind that our Lord God won’t ever leave our sides when things get hard.
Martin: And even though it’s not always clear what God is trying to tell us at any given moment, our trust in Him remains unwavering, no matter what.
[Heart & Soul Listeners]
I always exhaust and pressure myself to do things beyond my limits, which sometimes leads me to anxiety. In fact, I did wish that God would just write His will on the wall, or speak to me with an audible voice for me to know which path to take to avoid failures. But I know God rarely chooses to make His will for my life that obvious. He wants us to be persistent in seeking His guidance, and to always trust in the promise He bestowed. I’m truly thankful that He helped me to always understand His will and obey with all my heart. Now, I overcome the fear of taking risks and the fear of failing because I know God loves me. And His love won’t lead me astray.
Martin: Joining us now is a show favorite of ours, minister of the gospel, Brother Donald Pinnock. Brother Donald, how are you today?
Bro. Donald: I’m not too bad, Brother Martin, it’s good to hear from you.
Martin: Happy to have you on today. Brother Donald, you know, as we talk about self-reflection and the struggles that people go through, what struggles in life have you gone through? And why didn’t those struggles break you?
Bro. Donald: Well, what immediately comes to mind, Brother Martin, is when I left Canada to pursue my studies in the ministry there in the Philippines in 1992. Of course, it was very, very difficult to leave behind my parents who, of course, were getting on in age, when it comes to my siblings, and also my close friends. Even when it comes to my place of employment. And not only that, having to adjust to a culture that was very foreign to me, other people there, this just made the situation extremely hard.
Of course, before I left, I tried to prepare myself as best as I could. But when you’re actually there, and feeling like a total stranger and alien to everyone and everything, emotionally, it was very, very taxing. But I truly believe that God wanted me to be there. And that belief acted as a catalyst for me, in order for me to immerse myself in the culture. And also when it came to my studies.
Martin: Now, looking back on it many years removed from that situation, do you feel like maybe your apprehension was … was it an overreaction, an underreaction, or was what you expected exactly what ended up happening?
Bro. Donald: Well, fortunately, before I began my studies in 1992, I did visit the Philippines in 1990. It was just for a few weeks and I was able to visit my wife’s family there. And again, that was my first trip to the Philippines. And there, we can say there was a bit of a culture shock when it comes to the stark reality of how many people were really struggling there, when it came to the economy and when it comes to other living conditions for so many. So in truth, that initial visit there to the Philippines, it kind of helped, kind of helped. But when it came to going there in 1992, and to be there for the next five years, well, that’s all the more that, you know, reality hit me. So my apprehension, I believe, was in a way, an attempt to brace myself. But when I was actually there, knowing that I had left my family and my friends and everything else there in North America to pursue my studies, you know, being human, of course, it was very difficult, extremely difficult.
Martin: Right. And you know, that difficulty, perhaps they didn’t go into ministry but when you know, after hearing those clips, it shows that members of the Church Of Christ are not immune to the struggles in life. Even when they pursue their dreams, they’re not immune to those challenges. So what makes us all the more resilient to those struggles?
Bro. Donald: Well, the same reason why I was able to overcome my personal struggles then when I was beginning my studies and until now, when different kinds of challenges come in different forms. Being members of the Church Of Christ, we are resilient, not because of our own ability, but rather because we place our hope and trust in God. We trust that He will give us the strength, the courage, the guidance, in order for us to overcome whatever we may encounter in life.
In fact, it’s no surprise because God has made and fulfilled such promises to His people in the past, as we can read here in Isaiah 40:28-31:
Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? The LORD is the everlasting God; he created all the world. He never grows tired or weary. No one understands his thoughts. He strengthens those who are weak and tired. Even those who are young grow weak; young people can fall exhausted. But those who trust in the LORD for help will find their strength renewed. They will rise on wings like eagles; they will run and not get weary; they will walk and not grow weak.
[Isaiah 40:28-31 Today’s English Version]
As this Bible citation reminds us, it’s not just the old but even the young who can grow weak and feel exhausted, especially considering the current time that we are living in. But God has promised to strengthen His people who place their hope and their trust in Him. In fact, God further encourages us with a following declaration written in Isaiah 41:10:
Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice.
[Isaiah 41:10 Amplified Bible]
That is why even though we encounter virtually the same struggles, the same pains, the same hardships as other people, Church Of Christ members rely, depend, and in fact, we can say lean on and fully believe in God’s promises to us, His people. This is what makes us so resilient, so that even if we may feel down in the dumps, when a serious problem comes upon us, we’re able to get back up on our feet.
And no surprise because this was also what befell the apostles in their time. As we can read in II Corinthians 4:8-9:
We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed and broken. We are perplexed because we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going.
[II Corinthians 4:8-9 Living Bible]
The apostles were not spared from experiencing severe troubles in life as we can glean from this citation. But again, because they placed their hope and their trust in God, every time they were knocked down, they were able to get up again. Because God will never abandon His loyal and faithful servants. Because of this, God’s many acts of kindness, they should be reflected upon from time to time by His people.
Martin: That’s amazing that there are so many verses that point to that process of reflection and introspection and how that all weaves into our faith. What would you say, Brother Donald, is the purpose for self-reflection? And what does it ultimately mean for members of the Church Of Christ?
Bro. Donald: You know, Brother Martin, self-reflection gives us the precious opportunity to consider the condition of our life. To meditate on perhaps the mistakes that we have made when it comes to our judgment calls, and how we can improve for the future. And being members of the Church, there’s an added layer of contemplation, and that is to consider the condition of our relationship with God, and how we have reacted when immense problems have risen up in our life. That is why the Bible recommends the following:
When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The “worst” is never the worst. Why? Because the Master won’t ever walk out and fail to return. If he works severely, he also works tenderly. His stockpiles of loyal love are immense. He takes no pleasure in making life hard, in throwing roadblocks in the way: … GOD proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from GOD.
[Lamentations 3:28-33, 25-26 The Message]
We know that all people are bound to experience troubles in life. In fact, we can read that in Job 5:7. Those whom God recognizes however as His people, they have a distinct advantage when it comes to overcoming the troubles and tribulations of life. And even though sometimes we may feel that life is indeed heavy and hard to take, we should never be discouraged nor lose hope. What we should do is, as the Bible teaches, bow in prayer, and wait for hope to appear. The Bible assures us that it’s a good thing to hope for help from God, and that we’ll not be disappointed because God proves to be good to His people who wait patiently for Him. Especially at these times, Brother Martin, as you know, where because of this pandemic, the life of virtually all people around the world has been affected adversely. And there is indeed an increase of worry, anxiety and other mental problems.
However, when it comes to again, those whom the Lord our God recognizes as His people, He has promised to help them. So it is incumbent upon the people of God to place their hope and trust in Him. And one way we can do this is to believe in the power of prayer, communicating with our Father in heaven, meditating upon our life and our situation, taking those periods of self-reflection, in order for us to avail of God’s promises for us to continue to live a safe and productive life and most especially when it comes to remaining in close relationship with our Almighty God.
Martin: Thank you so much, Brother Donald, those verses were so very inspirational and the way that you were able to weave them into not only past struggles that maybe some of us have gone through, but the current struggles that are happening right now. We want to thank you so much, Brother Donald, for being on our show again today.
Bro. Donald: Oh, thank you so much for having me, Brother Martin.
Martin: Absolutely. We always look forward to having you on the show. And for our listeners, please continue to follow our hashtag on Instagram, #heartandsoulconversations to stay up to date with all things Heart & Soul. That’s it from us today. Hope we were able to help, hope you were able to connect and hope you’ll join us next time ready to listen with all your heart and soul. Take a few moments to reflect and be thankful because you’re not in this alone. Take care.
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