Tuesday, April 5, 2011

There is No Rock Like Our God

"There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God," 1 Samuel 1:2

Easter is a time to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is in Him that everything [outside of His will] was defeated. Any situation or illness we'll ever encounter has been defeated on the cross. He died for past, present, and future sins. God took everything upon Him, even death, so that we may live — eternally. What an awesome God we serve. To know that no matter what challenges or problems we may endure in life, He is the Answer to it all.

Resurrection Sunday wasn't just merely an event that occured over two thousand years ago, it was The Event. Note in Isaiah 9:6, one of God's names is Wonderful Counselor. What an amazing God to know that even when we get weighed down in this world, He is there to see us through it. To minister exactly what we need to hear and what we ought to do. The Holy Spirit is our Guide, our Comforter. God knew that we would need Him in that way... He knows us, after all He created us.

As we celebrate Easter this month, which is not about furry rabbits and colored eggs, let us remember what was accomplished at Calvary. There we have victory. And if you don't know Who He is, read God's love story to the world: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life," John 3:16.

In this issue, Renarda Williams shares an interview conducted with Lisa M. Brown about her bout with depression. It is noted that many women of color, many black women, suffer in silence because they assume no one will understand or that it's just something that just doesn't happen to black women. Lisa opens up and shares her story and introduces her new book, Strong on the Outside, Dying on the Inside: A Black Woman's Guide to Finding Freedom from Depression.


Depression in Black Women: A Discussion with Lisa M. Brown
By Renarda Williams

"Depression is a highly treatable disorder affecting some 17-20 million Americans annually," according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). The National Mental Health Association (NMHA) reports that only "one-third of all persons with major depression ever seek treatment."

Even more startling, NMHA reports, "African Americans and persons over 65 years old are the least likely to seek professional help. And among affected African Americans, only 12 percent of women actually seek treatment." This resistance to getting help is often attributable to the belief in the Black community that depression is a White woman's illness and not a legitimate health problem.

Published by Xulon Press

In an inspirational and spirit-filled book, Strong on the Outside, Dying on the Inside: A Black Woman's Guide to Finding Freedom from Depression (Xulon Press, 2011), Lisa M. Brown pulls the cover off this taboo subject to encourage Black women — who consider themselves strong and accomplished — to face their depression and seek professional treatment.

"There is simply not enough being said about depression in the Black community. It affects so many of us, yet our cultural norms and traditions — particularly in the Black church — have rendered us silent. This book will be an important step in the right direction for many, especially church-going women," says Terrie M. Williams. Williams is a health advocate, public relations mogul and founder of The Terrie Williams Agency in New York, NY, and author of Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We're Not Hurting (Scribner, 2008).

Brown, a dynamic and passionate entrepreneur, daughter, sister, and mother of three — with the help of God and treatment — overcame depression to lead a thriving Washington, DC-based consulting firm.  Brown's book is a blueprint, and should be considered a smaller version of Black Pain, for Black women confronting depression. Brown remarkably uses her experience, and the biblical story of Hannah, to get her point across to Black women about how important it is to face depression head on, and overcome it!

Black women facing depression, who will read this extraordinary book about Brown's personal story, will feel like she is telling their story ... and knowing they are not alone. Amazingly, at the end of each chapter, Brown says a prayer to spiritually uplift readers (especially Black women facing depression) to be encouraged, knowing that God is always with us.

Recently, I interviewed Brown, via telephone, for Straight Up about her book and depression in Black women today.

RW: What influenced you to use the example of Hannah, in your book, to describe the depression of Black women?

Lisa M. Brown
BROWN: It was for my own personal devotion. I was looking for something in the Bible about what I was feeling during my depression. I read the story of Hannah in 2005 ... it struck me and I related to her pain. I was able to relate to her story.

RW: How important it is for Black people, or anyone, who are depressed to break their silence and seek help?

BROWN: We need to get over the perception that nothing is wrong with us. We [Black people] can talk about racism, discrimination, and other issues, but we cannot talk about depression. Talking is the key to healing. By resorting to silence, we increase the pain. Talking to free yourself of pain ... release what comes out!

RW: During your depression, what was the boiling point where you realized God was the only one to help you?

BROWN: I was [absolutely] tired and hit rock bottom. I was tired of being tired ... and always in pain. I told God, 'I need to get out!'

RW: Why do you think some Black women, as well as some Black men, feel like they can take on the world, and ignore depression?

BROWN: It has been a tradition, and a part of our culture, that was passed down ... . We just keep going, going ... as if nothing is wrong with us. We do not want to be [looked upon], or have the perception that we are weak. We want [everyone] to see and believe that we are strong.

Lisa M. Brown attained professional success early in her career and at the age of 35, she became one of the youngest senior executives with the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, a Washington, D.C.-based trade association. She later went on the build Nonprofit HR Solutions, a fast-growing and trailblazing consultant firm focused on meeting the human resources needs of nonprofit organizations.

Brown is deeply committed to living out her faith in God in a meaningful way. She has been an active member of the music ministries of her churches in Toronto, Canada, where she grew up, as well as in Washington, D.C.

Brown also served as business manager for the Howard Gospel Choir of Howard University; member of Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church under the leadership of Archbishop Alfred A. Owens, Jr.; and as minister of music and praise team leader with the Bladensburg SDA Church. Brown currently attends Bladensburg SDA Church, where Noah L. Washington is the pastor.


In Closing,

I pose the question to those who may be dealing or struggling with depression: Is there anything too hard for God to handle? If you aren't a Christian, I can understand how it can overtake your life, but as Christians we are called to lay it at the altar of our Lord and Savior. This is not to say we won't encounter times in our lives when we are discouraged by the things that go on around us, but that when we are we can cast our burdens (our cares) upon the Lord, for He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). The Lord is with us, and He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrwes 13:5). Just as Hannah sought the Lord because she grieved, we should also. Seek Him in all things.  Just as King David sought God for strength, we must also encourage ourselves in the Lord (1 Samuel 30:6).

And we too will rejoice as Hannah did. "HANNAH PRAYED, and said, My heart exults and triumphs in the Lord; my horn (my strength) is lifted up in the Lord. My mouth is no longer silent, for it is opened wide over my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation. There is none holy like the Lord, there is none besides You; there is no Rock like our God," 1 Samuel 2:1-2, AMP.

God can do the same for you. Seek Him ...  for everything we need is indeed in the Lord.
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