Mental illness can bring treasures from darkness.

Mental illness can bring treasures from darkness.

Cynthia Lott Vogel has been a believer in Christ since childhood but abandoned her faith temporarily in her 20’s. Since her return to faith in Y’shua (Jesus, my Salvation), she had taught a large ladies Bible study and headed up the missions committee in her church until her health forced her to resign. She no longer can drive a car and lives a rather isolated life — social media online being her outlet and source of friendships. Illness and heartache have schooled her in the discipline of suffering and her faith has allowed her to endure and to appreciate the many gifts the Lord brings to those who wait on Him.

Aren’t you thankful I brought Cynthia your way today? She is a walking testament of grace. You will be touched by her honesty as she describes the suffering she has endured. You will be strengthened by her faith as time and again, the Lord reveals Himself to her in her darkest moments.

Welcome to Faith Notes, Cynthia!

When I was a teenager, I began to hear voices which sounded like they were coming from someone standing behind me. They told me cruel and frightening things. I hid this for a long time from people.

When I was in college, freshman year, I fell into a vortex of despair and a hatred of my life. At first, I cried out for God to help me; to rescue me. But there was Sovereign silence.

I began to take this silence as evidence that God either did not exist — or had abandoned me.

This made me angry. It made me hopeless.

Cynthia's mom and dad. Mom went to heaven in October 2016.

Cynthia’s mom and dad. Mom went to heaven in October 2016.

Eventually I overdosed on some pain medication and ended up in a psychiatric hospital — for six months. My heart grew harder and harder; bitterness and rage consumed me. I would often have to be restrained in the hospital so that I would not hurt myself or someone else in my fury.

That began a desert time in my life. I wandered like the children of Israel for fifteen years in and out of psychiatric hospitals. I was diagnosed with schizophrenia and major depression. I wanted OUT — out of this life that God had cursed me with.

But every attempt I made to end it only ended in miraculous rescue.

I did not yet understand that my life is God’s. It is not my possession. I do not have His permission to end it.

In 2009, after 15+ years of relative peace and a wonderfully restored relationship with the Lord, once again, I became psychotic. I made one last suicide attempt — a “fail-proof” attempt carried out in a hotel room where no one knew I was.

But this time God rescued me against every physical explanation.

I should have been dead. But God would not let me go.

I finally understood that my life is not my possession. It is the property of the Lord of Angel Armies, the King of all kings, my tender, compassionate Lord, my Father — and until He is ready to take me to His Kingdom, I must live out my time in this life, in cooperation with God’s plans for me.

Cynthia and the Word

Cynthia and the Word

Since that time, I have had health struggles and suffer immense physical pain almost constantly. I have had numerous major surgeries and am becoming more and more disabled. Oddly, now that I possibly have more of a legitimate reason for wanting to end this life, I have come to terms with my pain and with my mental illness.

God has become my Adonai (my Lord), and Jesus, my Y’shua (my Salvation). I have encountered the Father and His Son and His Spirit in entirely new ways. Now that I rely on Him to help me endure this pain and suffering, He has become as close as my breath, and has given me strength to carry on.

At one point, my artificial hip dislocated. (This actually happened seven times). Let me tell you that NOTHING I had experienced up until then (including childbirth) had prepared me for that kind of pain.

I was taken by ambulance to the emergency room and I lay there on a stretcher, drenched in perspiration and crying for help. In those moments I felt such a need for the Lord Jesus … and He was nowhere in sight. I cried out for Him to help me and finally sobbing, said to Him, “Where are You?”

And clearly came the reply, “all my bones are out of joint”, which I recognized as a phrase from Psalm 22, a prophetic psalm by David which describes some of what Jesus would endure on the cross. And suddenly, POWERFULLY, came the understanding that Jesus was right there with me and He knew exactly what I was feeling.

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
    Why are you so far away when I groan for help?
Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer.

    Every night I lift my voice, but I find no relief….

My life is poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint.) ~ Psalm 22:1,2,14a

Suddenly my groans and tears became whispers to Y’shua, “thank you.”  THANK YOU because I suddenly had a whole new appreciation for what Jesus suffered on that cross — for ME. I was honored to, as Paul said, “share in the death of Jesus,” to know His sufferings and to have the honor of enduring that with Him.

Cynthia's first oil painting in high school

Cynthia’s first oil painting in high school

Each time I stumbled in my walk with the Lord there was a slow return — digging my hands and feet into the rock wall and coming to know Him in new ways. Somewhere along the road this climb has become less arduous and more of a privilege.

Some years ago, the Lord brought me to Isaiah 45:1-13. I really wish I could copy the whole passage here but don’t want to take the room. PLEASE pick up a Bible and read those verses.  In particular are verses 2-3:

I will go before you, Cyrus,
    and level the mountains.
I will smash down gates of bronze
    and cut through bars of iron.
And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—
    secret riches.
I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord,
    the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name. (NLT)

I have chosen the phrase Treasures from Darkness for the title to my blog and the title to my book (which tells my story in greater detail). God has not only given me the treasure of knowing Him better, but He is also making me into a treasure for His own enjoyment!

God showed me that all the darkness in my life was giving way to bright treasure — not only in heaven to come, but in the here and now.

My life is not easy.

My marriage is not easy.

My health is not easy — but God has been using all those things to draw me closer to Himself.

Cynthia's daughter Alexa with boyfriend, Jeff

Cynthia’s daughter Alexa with boyfriend, Jeff

I have seen miracle after miracle of answered prayer.  I have heard God speaking to me — and I no longer have any doubt about the fact that I am His beloved child and that He is walking this journey with me, by my side.

And when I stumble He lifts me up by the firm grip He has on my hand.

My heart is filled with gratitude … mostly for His merciful forgiveness. I have committed some horrific sins. And He has forgiven me and forgotten those things. They are no longer counted against me. This fills my heart with thanksgiving and praise for the peace Jesus created at the cross — peace between God and me, peace between me and myself, peace with the difficult people in my life, and peace with God’s plans for me.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope it has encouraged you. No matter how alone you may feel, you are NOT alone. There is “a hope and a future”. *

Let God lead you there.

*Jeremiah 29:11

More about Cynthia:

Cynthia Lott Vogel

Cynthia Lott Vogel

Cynthia was born in Nyack NY. She always loved to write, beginning in 4th grade writing poetry. In high school, however, her attention focused on visual arts and she began to paint, deciding to be an art major in college.

She attended the College of New Rochelle, aided by full academic and art scholarships.

In Cynthia’s freshman year, dreams were shattered when mental illness struck full force. The next fifteen years were spent in agony of soul and mind as she was admitted to hospital after hospital. She moved to Connecticut and worked there as a graphic artist, but finally her illness proved too great and she moved back to NY at the advice of her doctors to be closer to her parents and there, she entered a group home.

In 1989 she met and married her husband and she worked again as a free lance artist. They moved to Orange County, NY and had a daughter who is now 26. In 2000, after a serious bout with pneumonia, Cynthia was left with severe asthma and very poor health. In 2006 they moved to the Pocono mountains in Pennsylvania.

She was diagnosed in 2009 with Psoriatic Arthritis and dealt with great pain ever since. She has had many major surgeries and more to come.

Cynthia began a blog in 2009 which has had close to 160,000 visitors since then. In 2014 she published a book, Treasures From Darkness, chronicling her struggles with mental illness. She has written some magazine articles and guest blogged on occasion also.

Contact info:

 

book on Amazon: My book at Amazon
Author page on Amazon: Author page on Amazon
book on Barnes and Nobel: Barnes and Nobel link
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Thank you so much for stopping by. I would love for you to share what’s on your heart in the comments below. Scroll a little farther down and you’ll see where you can leave your comments. Together, we can find the nearness of God in our darkest moments.

Sweet blessings to you,

NAN