I woke up this past Christmas morning feeling excited to celebrate the Lord's birth and God's mission to redeem the world. Then suddenly, that feeling diminished when I heard news of a bomb exploding in downtown Nashville. I was in Columbia, Tennessee, only 45 minutes away from the blast. I was sad over the destruction of the city and the injuries of innocent bystanders that resulted. And I was even more heartbroken to discover that the culprit used the bomb to take his own life. Amidst the Christmas decorations, presents, and joy in the air, I sat in my family's living room feeling the weight of our fallen world and mourning the lack of care for those with mental health issues in our community. In prayer and reflection, I questioned why this attack was made on such a holiday like Christmas. But then, the Holy Spirit brought to my attention that while the holidays are full of fellowship, laughter, and bright optimism for some, for the isolated, depressed, and lonely, the holidays can exacerbate suicidal thoughts and the need to escape this burdensome life. We have just ushered in a new year, and though social media and advertising companies would have us to believe that everyone is pumped on a 2021 high, setting goals, and making vision boards, I know there are people who cannot get out of bed and face the mirror just to see the same problems from last year. Many are still feeling dejected and hopeless. So, I am taking this opportunity to acknowledge your presence and your struggle. I have not personally encountered this struggle, but while working at a treatment facility for girls who have attempted suicide, I have seen the despair and cry for relief in the eyes of these residents. While I advise licensed mental health therapy, during my time at the treatment center, I realized how necessary a biblical framework and the hope of the gospel are in fighting suicide.
Find Your Voice in God's Word
The varied genres within the Bible carry with them a diversity of experiences and emotions. The narrative passages, for instance, echo the suffering that God's people encounter due to sin and its harmful effects. All of Scripture points to the redemptive mission that God's Son, Jesus, accomplished with His life, death, and resurrection. Therefore, the accounts of trial and hardship in the Bible reflect the fall and the depths of depravity that need the salvation of Jesus. Understanding the impact of sin draws our attention to original intention for creation: to have abundant life in God's presence. The voices of suffering incorporated in Scripture show that God graciously and lovingly makes space for our pain and then powerfully transforms it into His radiance.
One voice in the Bible is Job who was a righteous and favored man of God with great wealth, influence, and family. Then one day, all of that disappeared when his estate was stolen, his children tragically died, and his body was inflamed from a severe skin disease. Job was left to suffer alone, and his wife even told him to "curse God and die!" (Job 2:9 CSB). In Job 10, he wrestles with his feelings of abandonment and despair. He states, "I am disgusted with my life.
I will give vent to my complaint and speak in the bitterness of my soul" (Job 10:1). Job brings his questions to God. His emotions do not move him to retreat within himself but drive him outward to seek God's face for answers. Job demands, "Why did you bring me out of the womb? I should have died and never been seen. I wish I had never existed but had been carried from the womb to the grave" (Job 10:18-19). Job is consumed in darkness and wants to come to the end of his life. Through Job's words, we see that Scripture does not avoid the reality and impact of pain in our life. When God responds at the end of the book of Job, we know that the Lord was listening and was with him in these dark moments. As a child of God, you can express the truth and passion of your emotions freely. God will not flee; He will meet with you and listen to the heart cry of His beloved.
The Supreme Sufferer
God not only listens to our stories of suffering, but in Jesus Christ, He understands and brings hope. Jesus, the eternal Son of God, bore our sin. He left His heavenly throne and gave up His divine privileges. He entered the fallen and rebellious state of the world, yet He was perfectly obedient to the Father. Innocent of any sin, He took the punishment for our guilt and became the curse we deserved from covenant violation against the Creator. On the cross, Jesus questioned and cried out, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" (Matthew 27:46). His soul was in the depths of despair as He died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6). Jesus was the supreme sufferer. As God, He experienced the utmost pain and separation from the Father, so no matter what you are going through, Jesus knows the hurt you face. And, friend, there is hope still. Through His suffering and death, He reconciled His people back to God. Jesus overcame evil and drove back the darkness when His glorified body rose from the grave. Jesus accomplished the work of salvation so that you too could defeat the darkness. Through faith in Jesus, there is strength even when the pressures mount. Instead of seeking the escape of suicide, hold on to the life you have been given in Christ.
Better to Remain
Choose life, friend, for one day your circumstances will get better. As Paul says in Philippians 1:23-26, remain in the body and see the progress and joy of a faith-filled life. The comforting and ever-present Holy Spirit will apply the healing and transforming power of the gospel in your life. Your existence has significance–God is doing something. The Savior will pull you out of the muck of the world; give Him your hand. Through your story, He wants to make His glory shine like a star in the black of night. Though complete hardship will not disappear in this weary world, you can trust that when Christ comes again, He will redeem all, and His light will shine forever. Evil and darkness will be completely driven away, and there will be no more pain. Until then, remain with God in this life, continuing your journey hand in hand with Jesus.
If you or a friend need help right now, call the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.