Friday, December 19, 2014
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I pray Radio - Christmas 2014


In today’s media-saturated America, everyone has an opinion. From Bill O’Reilly to Chris Matthews, Rush Limbaugh to Rachel Maddow – there is no shortage of viewpoints. But how many of those perspectives bring you back to a place of passionate, persistent prayer for the nation?

“Viewpoint” allows the expression on the political, social and moral issues of the day. At times, you may not agree. But in the end, you will be energized to pray for America, with the prism of Scripture and a decidedly Godly direction as your guide. Plus, you can blog your comments to every article, have your say.

Read – then pray with an enlightened, more informed viewpoint for your nation and its leaders. 

Hiding In The Dark

View PointUnwrapping depression during the holidays

By Holly L. Meade

Depression affects nearly 14.8 million people in the United States. Studies show nearly six percent of men and ten percent of women experience a depressive episode in any given year. Christians are not immune. In fact, some of the Bible's greatest heroes like Moses, Elijah, Jonah, David, Hannah and Jeremiah struggled with it at various times. Currently, 29 percent of Christians in the United States deal with depression at some point in their life. That means three out of every ten Christians are depressed—even and sometimes especially— during the holiday season. Though Christians have great reason to celebrate Jesus’ birth, for some it can be an emotionally difficult time.

Dr. Karl Benzio, a psychiatrist and founder of the Lighthouse Network, an addiction and mental health counseling helpline, says there are usually two groups of people who are most susceptible to feeling lonely or depressed during the holidays. The first is someone who has had a recent loss. “Whether their spouse has passed away, maybe a child is estranged from them. Obviously a divorce is a very common issue in our society. Then you have people who have had hurts from the past.”

“People who have experienced a significant loss of any kind tend to isolate themselves,” says Bobbie Rill, licensed counselor and founder of the Grief and Wellness Group. “Some may reach out to others for help but most will not for fear they will be a burden to others or will face what they perceive as rejection. Sometimes Christians, although well-meaning, can say or imply things that actually create more pain to the grieving person. Some Christians might give the impression that the person’s sadness or loneliness is because they are not trusting God or need more faith. People need to understand that grief is an expression of the person’s emotions – not a barometer of their faith.”

The holidays can unwrap emotional situations for people dealing with depression when interacting with family members, neighbors and co-workers in a social setting.

“The holidays are this time of year that's supposed to be about joy, peace, fulfillment, but especially about relationship and spiritual connection. You know that perfect Hallmark card or Lifetime movie. So whenever there's this huge expectation and it's out there in front of everybody in the media and you see some functional healthy families enjoying this time of year, it really accentuates the loss or the things that are missing or those hurts that you know many people are experiencing this time of year. So they're hurting during the rest of the year but this time of year the emphasis is so much on these elements and this joyousness and this peace, whenever it's not there for somebody it's almost like rubbing salt in their wounds,” Benzio says.

“Many times Christians going through a tough time think they need to “act” as though they are doing okay so others won’t judge them or think they are not trusting God,” says Rill. “They will put on that ‘happy face’ in an attempt to avoid being criticized and to keep people from giving them all kinds of advice.” 

Benzio adds, “The last thing most people want to do during that joyous time of year is one, go out; then two, have to talk about what they’re struggling with or what they’re failing in.”

God brought Jesus onto the scene of history to bless people. So this holiday season, pray for opportunities to be a blessing to those around you who may be struggling. Sometimes that may mean putting aside the festivities and being, as Bobbie Rill says, “a heart with ears.”

“Provide an opportunity and allow the person to share how they are feeling,” Rill concludes. “Let them talk about the loved one who has died and what they are going through. Let the person talk without any form of analysis, judgment or criticism. And, remember grief is emotional, not intellectual so avoid telling the person not to feel bad/sad and not to cry. Those tears are a normal and natural reaction to a loss of any kind – our sad feelings are just as valid as being happy. What you can do once you have listened without any judgment or criticism is to begin to help them focus on the positive and fond memories of the past, express your love and appreciation and begin to help them build new memories and traditions in the present moment.” 

Holly Meade is a communications specialist, writer, speaker and teacher with a master's degree in mass communication. She has extensive experience in creating and producing content for radio, television and the Internet.

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