On November 3, 1998, a close friend drowning in personal problems took his life. He suffered silently from depression avoiding medical help or counseling for dealing with this dreadful condition. With help he might have handled his problems more realistically instead of viewing the warped vision depression creates. Having struggled with depression myself over the years, I knew the black cloud that can enshroud even the child of God.
Suicide is a difficult issue for those left behind
People rarely discuss suicide so those left behind to suffer must often mourn alone and in confusion. Survivors repeatedly question themselves about what they should have said or noticed. Many are angry with the deceased for not giving them a chance to help, not reaching out to others, for leaving them with unanswered questions and bitter pain, and for not saying goodbye. Too many questions begin with, “If only I would have…” We must remember that one who attempts or commits suicide is not thinking rationally for they would not act on such illogical actions with a sane mind.
Finding a peaceful mind through Jesus
If you heart is filled with despair turn to the Great Physician, Jesus. When Jesus sailed to the region of the Gadarenes, in Galilee, a wild man living among the tombs met Him as He disembarked. The man, who tore apart many chains and shackles that could not restrain him, ran to Jesus and worshiped Him. As he worshiped, the unclean spirits, united in one as Legion, begged Jesus not to torment them. Jesus rebuked the spirits and commanded them to depart from the man. A multitude from the city came to Jesus and saw the man, once wild and uncontrollable, sitting in his right mind with Jesus.
Though demon possession is not a problem today, having faded during the early work of the apostles (the epistles do not warn of demon possession and Acts 19 is the last historical mention of possession), Jesus still can heal the troubled hearts and minds of men. Without Jesus, we will likely lose control and drift into despair. However, Jesus, through prayer and His word, can help us regain our senses.
Jesus implored the troubled to seek him for comfort and He would give them rest, Matthew 11:28-30. When the Satan, through the world, exercises the primary influence over our lives chaos, anxiety, and difficulties abound.
- Chaos; because the world cannot give us wise answers for daily living but only conflicting philosophies and a disordered life.
- Anxiety; for we cannot have “peace that passes understanding” without complete trust in God (“Casting your cares on Him for He cares for you,” 1 Peter 5:7).
- Difficulties; because those who do not rely on Christ or their brethren to help in difficult times are placing unnecessary burdens upon themselves and throwing away the most useful resources for dealing with troubles in this life (“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ,” Galatians 6:2).
Sometimes we put too much trust in our own power and strive for independence from God. As a result, we turn to worldly ways to solve spiritual problems and are doomed to fail.
Helping one another
In the shadow of natural disaster and personal tragedies, good people strive to help one another. In the Old West, neighbors would have “barn raisings” in which the community help one family build their barn. If the head of the family died, other families would take care of the survivors to help them get on their feet. Throughout history, people have always united to help ordinary families get through extraordinary difficulties. In times of great personal difficulty and despair we should allow others to help us, pray with us, and support us. It is not a sign of weakness but of strength to ask for help, James 5:16-20; Philippians 2:1-4.
Clinical depression, which lasts for a long time without any apparent reason is a medical issue about which one should talk with his or her doctor. Even here, God’s providence has allowed us to live in a world where doctors understand the medical issues surrounding such feelings and medications exist to help people cope with the chemical imbalances in the body. I know. I am a godly person but have needed medical assistance at times to handle the physical factors that influenced depression. We must be willing to reach out to someone for help. Someone does want to help. There is always the National Suicide Prevention Hotline available with caring volunteers ready to assist: 1-800-273-8255.
When my friend took his life in 1998 it was an election day. Since that day, I have mourned my friend and wished that I could have helped him not make this drastic decision. Yet that day he voted to die. As for me, I vote for life and no matter what disaster or despair may strike, I will still choose life, even if I have to ask my brethren to help me move the lever.