Mercy For Those Struggling With Their Faith

Struggling to Forgive My Ex-Husband: 4 Lessons I Learned from the Savior

Mercy For Those Struggling With Their Faith

As a theatrical composer, I am very used to looking at a story through a character’s eyes and placing myself in their shoes; I feel the emotions that they would feel so I would know what they would say and how they would say it.  If a character is going to break into song, they better have a good reason, and I’d better know what it is.

But, looking through my own life with my own eyes is much, much harder.  I think that’s true for all of us; it’s much easier to see someone else’s problems than our own.  Sometimes, though, the Lord will tip the perspective just enough so we can see our life through His eyes as He sees us.  I had an experience that a few years ago that taught me about forgiveness.

Meeting with My Ex-Husband

It was a meeting I was not looking forward to, as we hadn’t met face to face since the divorce, but this involved the children and I felt I needed to speak to my ex-husband in person.

  Because of past history and my own lack of self-confidence at that point, this was not an easy thing for me to do.

  In fact, I wasn’t even sure I could muster the courage to pull it off, but I had made the arrangements, and now it was time.

As I showered to get ready for this meeting, all the things I never got to say to him welled up inside of me,  and the hurt and pain turned to anger as I worked up a lather in more ways than one.  It was as if the years of pain, betrayal, manipulation, lying, and deceit paraded before my eyes, taunting me, and belittling me.  I was wracked with a pain that shook my very soul.

A Comforting Voice Saying the Impossible

Suddenly, in a small voice deep inside of me, I heard these words: “A lot of filthy water has passed under the bridge that we’ve just crossed, but I want you to know, I forgive you.” What?! Forgive him? But what about this?  And what about that?  Who’s keeping score?

The words came again: “A lot of filthy water has passed under the bridge that we’ve just crossed, but I want you to know, I forgive you.” I stopped to catch my breath, and the tears welled up where the anger had been.

  I started to cry, and then started to sob a deep, soul-wrenching sob that went deep down to that place where the pain was attached to my very soul.

Those sobs wrapped themselves around the pain in my heart and wrenched it free, and it all washed down the drain with my tears. 

When we stood to leave from our meeting, I stopped to face him and heard myself say those exact same words: “A lot of filthy water has passed under the bridge that we’ve just crossed, but I want you to know,” and my voice caught with emotion, “I forgive you.”  There.  I said it.  And I meant it.  No matter what happened from that point on, no condemnation of him would come from me.  It was over, and I was free.

Lessons Learned from the Savior

It was obvious to me that only the Savior could have taken the hurt and replaced it with sweet peace.  It is precious, but so difficult to achieve.  Why? Because we have to let go of the scales of justice and let the Lord be the judge, trusting that He will make everything right in His way.

I had the privilege of setting “The Beatitudes”* to music awhile ago, and I had the same experience in writing this work as I have had when working on musicals, namely, I saw the scene through the character’s eyes, and in this case, it was Christ’s eyes, and the eyes of those who heard Him for the very first time.  These passages taught me much about forgiveness.

We have to keep in mind the setting, of The Sermon on the Mount, as related in Matthew chapter 5, which contains what is known as “The Beatitudes.

”  The Lord’s audience had many who were looking for a Messiah who was a mighty military leader who would lead them Roman captivity.  Instead, here was Christ teaching of “the poor in spirit,” “the peacemakers,” and “the merciful.

”  He was teaching them to take the “high road.” Here is what I personally learned about forgiveness from His teachings:

1. “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” To be poor in spirit does not mean to allow people to use you or abuse you.

  Being poor in spirit refers to being humble and teachable, such as being taught that you need to forgive someone, and then doing it.  Just because you forgive someone does not mean that you need to allow them to hurt you over again.

 When we are teachable, we gain access to “the kingdom of heaven” and the power to do things we could never do on our own, forgive someone who has hurt us.

2. “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Often times, we think of mourning only in terms of grieving a death of a loved one, but it can also be the death of a marriage, or the death of an ideal, or a disappointment, failure, or heartache.

  When that mourning is the result of being wronged by another person, the way to be “comforted” is to forgive and to allow the sweet peace of the Savior to fill your aching soul.

3. “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.”  In the eternal laws of heaven, there is a penalty for every wrong; there is no mercy inherent in the law of justice.  The only way that mercy is introduced into that equation is through our Savior, Jesus Christ.

  He pays the price for our mistakes and allows the Father to have mercy on us and forgive us.  However, we are strictly warned that in order to receive the benefits of the atonement, specifically His mercy, we must offer the same benefit to others.  To be forgiven, we must forgive.  To receive His mercy, we must be merciful.

  That is how the atonement works.

4. “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” When I forgave my ex-husband, it was not well received.

  The response was flippant, and it was obvious that he was not the one who received the peace from my forgiving him; it was I who received the peace.  I was the peacemaker, and I made peace within myself, but the Lord is the peace giver.

I could not give him peace or bring peace to myself; only the Savior can do that.  If we forgive others, He can forgive us, and we become His children.

We can’t always choose what kind of water goes “under the bridge” of our lives, but we can always choose to either cross safely over it, or wallow in it and run the risk of drowning.  Forgiveness is the “high road” that leads to peace and safety through the Savior, Jesus Christ. 

*Note: Cathy Neff’s musical setting of “The Beatitudes” is part of a Musical Treasury called “The Ministry of Christ,” which is currently being featured on 

See more from Cathy Neff at

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Words of Hope for Those Struggling with Depression

Mercy For Those Struggling With Their Faith

Jeni is depressed. The weight of life weighs heavily on her soul and she sees no way of escape. She says she lives in a confusing, dark, and dense jungle. And so it is. She tries to explain but slowly defaults to her “you have to be there to understand me” mantra.

In a sense she is right, but this should not discourage you from helping her lift the mental chains that have created her lethargy toward life. Her zeal is nearly gone as a besieging army of hopelessness surrounds her.

She does not live in the confidence of the Psalmist: Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. – Psalm 27:3

This is her depression. This is her hopelessness. This is where she needs you. As you listen to her depression you must hear what she cannot hear. Jeni lives according to her feelings rather than the truth claims of the Word of God. This is what I call an unbelieving believer (Mark 9:24).

What She Feels is Real

Trusting in her feelings is all she knows. It is what she feels and that is more substantive than the vagaries of faith. Which is easier for you to trust: that which you can feel or that which you can’t?

Feelings may be elusive and detached from the Word of God, but they are real and feel-able. You can experience feelings, but faith is a totally other animal and when you’re in the throes of confusion, feelings can carry a lot of weight.

Unfortunately, too many times the weight feelings carry will take you down to the depths of depression. This is what has happened to Jeni. When you talk to her about the bold claims of Jesus Christ she says it has more of a pie-in-the-sky ring to it than hope for her soul.

Remember: faith is un-feel-able and she is listening to you through a feeling filter, not a faith filter. It’s trying to explain color to a color-blind man. He cannot see what you see. The glory of color is elusive to him.

Though the solution is clear to you, it is not clear to her. She is an unbelieving believer. Helping her to get to the solution of Jesus alone, through faith alone will require much patience and gentleness from you.

You who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:1-2

She needs to know who Jesus is and what Jesus can do. Another way to say the same thing is to say, “She needs to have a clear and practical understanding of the gospel.”

He is the way, the truth, and the life for Jeni (John 14:6). He is the lover of her soul; the servant who came to care for her (Mark 10:45). He is her brother and friend who will never leave her or forsake her (Hebrews 13:5). He is her power for salvation, for sanctification, and for glorification (Romans 1:16; Romans 8:29-30).

Sadly, these truths are nothing more than echoes on the outskirts of her life. Somehow the gap between what she is feeling and what the Bible prescribes for her soul must be closed.

Listen Carefully to Her Depression

There is no other technique or prescription or any such thing on earth that can bring her her confusing, dark, and dense jungle. One of the better articles you’ll read on depression is by Ed Welch, from CCEF.

In his article, Welch identifies a person Jeni as living by her feelings or emotional state rather than faith in Christ alone. He suggests the way you care for the depressed is found in faith solutions rather than feeling solutions. I completely agree.

Feelings are descriptive (how she feels) and can be helpful in bringing clarity to what is going on in her mind, but feelings are not solutions that provide a roadmap her jungle. This is an essential understanding of feelings.

I never dismiss a person’s feelings when counseling with them. I listen to their feelings. In the case of Jeni, I would be listening to her depression, which is what her feelings would be describing.

However, I would not be basing my faith solutions in her feelings. I would see her feelings as the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. If I’m listening correctly, I would hear how her feelings are revealing a lack of trust (faith) in God–her feelings reveal her mind or her thought life.

Jeni needs to be carefully and gently brought to believe and act on what God says rather than giving herself over to how she feels. Initially, this will be hard for her and it will require learning a new way to live; it is a workout for the mind.

Where you want to be careful is not to dismiss her feelings, because at this point her feelings is all she has to rely upon. To dismiss, make light of, or try to take her feelings away from her would be the equivalent of pushing her an airplane with no parachute.

Remember, she does not have your faith. She does not have your filter. She is the color blind man struggling to grasp your perspective on the glory of color.

Feelings Versus Scripture

In Welch’s article, he puts feelings and Scripture up against each other as though they were in a debate. He does this to make his point that Scripture has to always trump our feelings and it does. Feelings cannot ever win over the Word of God.

Any other result says God (His Word) cannot be trusted; God is not telling the truth, and you must rely on your feelings. Feelings and faith are not coequal. One must lead the other. What you feel may be real to you, but your real feelings can deceive you if they are not rooted in the Word of God.

If you will not trust God’s Word but will trust in your feelings, then God and His Word will not be your solution. In such cases, your oscillating emotions will be your guide, which the Bible implies is a roller coaster. You will be unstable in all your ways.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. – James 1:5-8

Trusting what you feel in the moment is not the same as trusting the Word of God. Each of us must make this distinction because we’re all prone to live by what we feel versus what we know–or what we should know from God’s Word.

When I feel responding in anger to my wife, I must stop right there on the spot and repent of these unbiblical feelings and trust God’s Word. I cannot allow my mind to be subjected and controlled by feelings that are not controlled by Scripture.

If I don’t do this, I will go off on my wife, giving her a piece of my emoting mind. However, if I learn a new way of thinking, according to the Word of God, over time, and through much prayer and practice, I can yield this new way of thinking to the Spirit of God.

This is what Jeni must learn to do too. Her responses, born a new belief system, must rule her mind more than her feelings. The Word of God, empowered by the Spirit of God, encouraged by the people of God, is the roadmap she needs in order to be led her jungle of depression.

There is a Battle for Your Mind

This is a sanctification process which is not un any other struggle in which we battle. Nearly all of our struggles are battles in our minds, for our minds. There is a battle for her mind. This is what Paul was teaching us in 2 Corinthians 10:3-6. He warned us about the nature of the battle.

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. – 2 Corinthians 10:3-6

There is a battle for Jeni’s mind. The questions are, “What will she believe? Who will she trust? What will she place her faith in? Who is going to control her thinking?”

Her feelings have always held sway over her, but God wants to retrain her mind according to His weapons, which are the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the community of God. These are divine weapons, not according to the flesh.

Physical Components to Depression

Jeni’s belief system needs to be reconstructed. Her main problem becomes a matter of faith. Though there may be some physical elements to depression, the key still rests in who she will ultimately trust.

It could be there will be symptoms of depression she will struggle with all her life. Are any of us in perfect physical health? Do any of us have perfectly free and unencumbered minds? No. We’re fallen people in a fallen world.

If the goal is optimal health from birth to grave, then there is no help that will satisfy you. If the goal is to find grace for your situation, regardless of what your situation may be, then there is strength for your weakness (2 Corinthians 4:7).

Regardless of the physical components of depression, which is a debatable subject, if she responds to her feelings–what she feels in the moment, she will be a slave to her feelings. If she responds according to the Word of God, she will have victory, even in her weakness, whatever her weaknesses may be (2 Corinthians 4:7; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

God’s Word is not designed to make us perfectly healthy and mentally whole. That is not the goal of His Word for fallen people in a fallen world. The goal of His Word is to give us victory even in our weaknesses. Is God’s grace sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9)?

I think sometimes, some people crave personal victory and interpret it as being healthy, whole, and problem free. That is not a promise from the Word of God. Being strengthened by God, while living in a body of death is a promise from God (Romans 7:24-25).

This kind of faith releases you from falling prey to the argument that depression is a disease and the Word of God does not speak to it. The Word of God does not speak to my chronic back pain, but it teaches me how to have victory while debilitated.

A Few Mind-Reorienting Texts

One of the things a counselor would want to do for Jeni is begin the reorientation of her mind to the Word of God. Quite frankly, she needs to be brainwashed and since our culture has no qualms about brainwashing us, I have none either.

With brainwashing not an option, it comes down to what you want to wash your brain with and the Word of God is my preferred washing tool. Here are three helpful texts to suggest to her to memorize.

You could then begin a process of teaching her what these texts mean. Memorizing the Bible is not magic. These texts are just words, that’s all. However, if you walk her through what they mean, pray through them, asking the Spirit of God to practicalize them to her heart, then you will see the beginning of change.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is 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. – Psalm 1:1-3

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12;1-2

Do not be anxious about anything, 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 understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians 4:6-8

Pertaining to this last passage, be sure to read my article and accompanying Mind Map called, Mind Mapping Stinking Thinking – Thoughts on How to Change Your Mind.

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Bono’s bold take on Jesus: You’ve probably never seen a celebrity declare their faith this

Mercy For Those Struggling With Their Faith

Today is the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the largest amphibious invasion in history.

The Allied invasion force included 5,000 ships and landing craft, 11,000 planes, and almost three million allied soldiers, airmen and sailors. Despite such numbers, the location and timing of the invasion was still an enormous gamble. The Nazis fully expected such an invasion, they just didn't know precisely when or where it would be.

Despite the enormous logistics involved, the gamble worked and by the end of June 6, 1944, 156,000 Allied troops were ashore in Normandy. The human cost was also enormous – over 4,900 American troops died on D-Day. That number doubled over the next month as they fought to establish a foothold in northern France.

There were five beach landing zones on the coast of northwestern France, divided among the Allies. They gave each landing zone a name. Canada was responsible for “Juno.” Britain was responsible for “Gold” and “Sword.” And the U.S. had “Utah” and “Omaha.”

The Nazis were dug in with bunkers, machine guns, artillery, mines, barbed wire, and other obstacles to tangle any attempt to come ashore. Of the five beaches, Omaha was by far the most heavily defended. Over 2,500 U.S.

soldiers were killed at Omaha – the beach so famously depicted in the opening battle sequence of the 1998 movie, Saving Private Ryan. The real-life assault on Omaha Beach included 34 men in that first wave of attack who came from the same small town of Bedford, Virginia.

The first Americans to die on Omaha Beach were the men from Bedford.

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America has a national D-Day Memorial, but many people don't know about it

America has a national D-Day Memorial, but many people don't know about it. Maybe that's because it wasn't a government project and it's not in Washington DC. It was initiated and financed by veterans and private citizens.

It's tucked away in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in the small town of Bedford, Virginia. Why is the memorial for one of the most famous days in modern world history in such a tiny town? Because, as a proportion of its population of just 3,200 at the time, no community in the U.

S. sacrificed more men on D-Day than Bedford.

There were 34 men in Company A from Bedford. Of those thirty-four, 23 died in the first wave of attacks.

Six weeks after D-Day, the town's young telegraph operator was overwhelmed when news of many of the first deaths clattered across the Western Union line on the same day. Name after name of men and families that she knew well.

There were so many at once that she had to enlist the help of customers in the pharmacy's soda shop to help deliver them all.

Among those killed in action were brothers Bedford and Raymond Hoback. Bedford was the rambunctious older brother with a fiancée back home that he couldn't wait to return to. Raymond was the quieter, more disciplined younger brother who could often be found reading his Bible.

He fell in love with a British woman during his two years in England training for D-Day.

in that opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan, Bedford and Raymond barely made it down the ramp of their Higgins Boat in the swarm of bullets and hot steel before they were cut down in the wet sand.

Bedford and Raymond Hoback's mother, Macie, learned of both their deaths from two separate telegrams, the first on a Sunday morning, the second the following day. Their younger sister, Lucille, remembered her mother's devastation, and her father walking out to the barn to cry.

The day after D-Day, the killing field of Omaha Beach was already transforming into the massive supply port that would help fuel the American drive all the way to Berlin over the next year. A soldier from West Virginia was walking along the beach when he saw something jutting the sand. He reached down and pulled it out. He was surprised to find it was a Bible.

The inside cover was inscribed with: “Raymond S. Hoback, from mother, Christmas, 1938.” The soldier wrote a letter and mailed it with the Bible to Raymond's mother. That Bible, which ly tumbled from Raymond's pack when he fell on D-Day, became Macie Hoback's most cherished possession – the only personal belonging of her son that was ever returned.

Of the 23 Bedford men who died on Omaha Beach, eleven were laid to rest in the American cemetery in Normandy.

These men, many of them barely their teens, didn't sign up to march to the slaughter of course. They had hopes and dreams just you and I. Many of them signed up for adventure, or because of peer pressure, and yes, a sense of honor and duty.

Many of the Bedford Boys first signed up for the National Guard just to make a few extra bucks per month, get to hang out with their buddies, and enjoy target practice.

But someone had to be first at Omaha Beach and that responsibility fell to the men from Bedford.

Over the last several years, the D-Day anniversary gets increasingly sad. Because each year, there are fewer and fewer men alive who were actually in Normandy on June 6, 1944. The last of the surviving Bedford Boys died in 2009. Most of the remaining D-Day veterans who are still with us are too frail to make the pilgrimage to France for the anniversary ceremonies they used to.

It's difficult to think about losing these World War II veterans, because once they're all gone, we'll lose that tether to a time when the nation figured out how to be a better version of itself.

Not that they were saints and did everything right. They were as human as we are, with all the fallibility that entails. But in some respects, they were better. Because they went, and they toughed it out, and they accomplished an incredibly daunting mission, with sickening hardship, heartbreak, and terror along the way.

So, what does the anniversary of D-Day mean in 2019?

In one sense, this anniversary is a reprimand that we've failed to tell our own story well enough

In one sense, this anniversary is a reprimand that we've failed to tell our own story well enough. You can't learn about the logistics of the operation and above all, the human cost, and not be humbled. But as a society, we have not emphasized well enough the story of D-Day and all that it represents.

How can I say that? Because of an example just last weekend, when common sense got booed by Democratic Socialists at the California Democrats' State Convention. When Democratic presidential candidate John Hickenlooper said during his speech that “socialism is not the answer,” the crowd booed loudly.

When did telling the truth about socialism become controversial?

Sure, socialists, and communists and other anti-American factions have always been around. America certainly had socialists in 1944.

But the current socialists trying to take over the Democratic Party a virus don't believe in the D-Day sacrifices to preserve America, because they don't believe America is worth preserving.

They are agitating to reform America using the authoritarian playbook that has only ended in death and destruction everywhere it is followed.

Ask a Venezuelan citizen, or an Iraqi Christian, or a North Korean peasant why D-Day still matters in 2019.

The further we move away from caring about pivotal events June 6, 1944, the less chance of survival we have as a nation.

At the same time, the D-Day anniversary is a reminder that we're not done yet. It's an opportunity for us to remember and let that inform how we live.

Near the end of Saving Private Ryan, the fictional Captain Miller lays dying, and he gives one last instruction to Private Ryan, the young man that he and his unit have sacrificed their lives to rescue in Normandy. He says, “Earn it.”

In other words, don't waste the sacrifices that were made so that your life could be saved. Live it well. The message to “earn it” extends to the viewer and the nation as well – can we say we're earning the sacrifices that were made by Americans on D-Day? I cringe to think how our few remaining World War II veterans might answer that.

Honor. Duty. Sacrifice. Gratitude. Personal responsibility. These used to mean a lot more

Honor. Duty. Sacrifice. Gratitude. Personal responsibility. These used to mean a lot more. I don't want to believe it's too late for us to rediscover those traits as a nation. I want to believe we can still earn it.

The challenge to “earn it” is a lot of pressure. Frankly, it's impossible. We can't fully earn the liberty that we inherited. But we can certainly try to earn it. Not trying is arrogant and immoral.

And to tout socialism as the catch-all solution is naïve, and insulting to the men those from Bedford who volunteered to go defend freedom. In truly striving to earn it, we help keep the flame of liberty aglow for future generations.

It is necessary, honorable work if freedom is to survive.

The end of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is remarkably relevant for every anniversary of June 6, 1944. This is what D-Day still means in 2019:

“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Álvaro Serrano/Unsplash

July 9, 1944 Somewhere in France

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Hoback:

I really don't know how to start this letter to you folks, but will attempt to do something in words of writing. I will try to explain in the letter what this is all about.

While walking along the Beach D-day Plus One, I came upon this Bible and as most any person would do I picked it up from the sand to keep it from being destroyed.

I knew that most all Bibles have names & addresses within the cover so I made it my business to thumb through the pages until I came upon the name above. Knowing that you no doubt would want the Book returned I am sending it knowing that most Bibles are a book to be cherished.

I would have sent it sooner but have been quite busy and thought it best if a short period of time elapsed before returning it.

You have by now received a letter from your son saying he is well. I sincerely hope so.

I imagine what has happened is that your son dropped the Book without any notice. Most everybody who landed on the Beach D-Day lost something. I for one as others did lost most of my personal belongings, so you see how easy it was to have dropped the book and not know about it.

Everything was in such a turmoil that we didn't have a chance until a day or so later to try and locate our belongings.

Since I have arrived here in France I have had occasion to see a little of the country and find it quite parts of the U.S.A. It is a very beautiful country, more so in peace time. War does change everything as it has this country.

One would hardly think there was a war going on today. Everything is peaceful & quiet.

The birds have begun their daily practice, all the flowers and trees are in bloom, especially the poppies & tulips which are very beautiful at this time of the year.

Time goes by so quickly as it has today. I must close hoping to hear that you receive the Bible in good shape.

Yours very truly,

Cpl. H.W. Crayton

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