We have been reading in the news recently of two celebrities that committed suicide. If you follow social media, you will see that some people felt very close, for different reasons to these celebrities, others were outright shocked to find out that celebrities, who appear to have it all, would want to end their life. Others have shared memes that highlight how suicide affects a lot of people, including many veterans who die by suicide each day.
The truth is we all may have been affected by suicide in some way. It could be a friend, a family member, or an acquaintance that we heard about that committed suicide. It is very sad and something that no one, even Christians, fully understand. There are many reasons why someone is suicidal, and even feels that they are at their last straw and need to end their life. People who are suicidal will often say “people will be better off without me”, “I am not needed”, “I am just making things harder on everyone else”, “no one is going to miss me”, or “I just can’t do it anymore”, “I am not good enough”, and even “God doesn’t care about me, if He did He would take this *thing* away from me”.
Nearly everyone has been through some sort of hardship. It could be the death of someone close to us, it could be a job loss, a financial problem, or a strained-even abusive relationship. There may be thoughts that cross our mind that tell us that it would be okay to die, or that if we died it would be so much better than having to deal with what it is we have to deal with. We may not want to take our own lives, but we may fantasize about death. Even Christians. We know that we have a wonderful home in heaven waiting for us. We won’t have pain, we won’t have sorrow, and we won’t have to deal with anything bad for eternity. Although that is a good thing, and we SHOULD look forward to heaven, and be so grateful and thankful for the promise of a better life on the other side of this earth, it’s NOT an invitation to want to get their faster than what God’s plan is for our life.
The reason why it may make more news when a celebrity, rather than someone local, or even a veteran, commits suicide is because celebrities aren’t SUPPOSED to commit suicide. They have it all. They are famous, they have money, they have anything and everything they want. They have MADE IT in life. So when someone like that who has a disposable income, who is loved by the world and who doesn’t seem like they should have any problems or reason to die..dies by taking their own life, we go into shock, and we try to figure out how in the world could that have happened?
The same goes for people who are in ministry. Just because you are a missionary, or a pastor, does not mean you aren’t going to get down at times, it doesn’t mean you aren’t discouraged and it doesn’t mean that you don’t sometimes think “God, please take me now, life is too hard”. But, at the same time, just like with celebrities, men and women of God, aren’t “supposed” to have thoughts of death and dying, they aren’t “supposed” to feel in despair, I mean, they are close to God right? They know that God will take care of them right? So, they “NEVER” feel like they wish they could just crawl up in a hole and die. Well, surprisingly, yes, even men and women of the faith, those who go across the world to share the gospel, those who stand on stage each Sunday morning, yes, even they can feel worn out, hopeless and like they have lost all purpose.
Take a look at Elijah. Elijah was a prophet of God. In his day he WAS the man of God. He was the person that would point others to God, and who heard from God and was to do the will of God to bring the nation to the Lord, and keep God’s people on the right path. One of the best stories of all time is about Elijah. In I Kings 18:16-41 we read the story of Elijah taking on the prophets of Baal. In this story, we see God’s power and how he showed who HE was through Elijah. It was amazing, and very clear who the ONE true God is. The very next chapter, in I Kings 19, we read that after Elijah, God’s chosen prophet, who just defeated the prophets of Baal, who just saw one of the greatest miracles of God, of all time, was threatened. What did he do? Did he say, “oh that’s no big deal, I serve a living God, one who can produce miracles, one that is always by my side”. Did he clarify that he had a relationship with the God of the universe who wouldn’t let anything happen to him? NOPE! After becoming afraid and running for his life (vs 3) He said in verse 4 “I have had enough, LORD, take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” How could this man want to die? How could he lose trust in God so quickly, after seeing with his own eyes, and having complete faith in God, all of the sudden, lose faith, and beg to die? A few verses down, starting in verse 9, God speaks to Elijah and Elijah basically responds by telling the Lord about all he (Elijah) has done for God. Then he gets a “woe is me” attitude. He basically thinks, after all this that he has done for the Lord, it means nothing, and he feels that he might as well die. Elijah feels that although he has tried so hard, he is not seeing the response that he wants, he is feeling very down about himself, and thinks he is going to die anyway, so the sooner the better and asks the Lord to take his life.
Similar to celebrities people may think a follower, and even a minister of the Lord shouldn’t ever think about dying, feeling despair and wanting the Lord to take his life before his time. The attitude is they have it “altogether”. They SHOULD be the ones trusting God, knowing God and recognizing that God will help them through any difficulty. But if it can happen with a man like Elijah it can happen with anyone! No matter where we are with our walk with God, life can be very discouraging. We might feel that our ministry is not producing the way WE want. Our family may not functioning the way we hoped that it it would, or we might just feel that God isn’t present. We may feel God is there in certain circumstances, but then He leaves at other times, which can lead to feelings of despair, discouragement and failure. We can become so caught up on our own depression, that we may wish to God that we can just die.
God has a plan and purpose, ALWAYS, for our life. It may not be what we hope, dream, or envision, but he still has plan. Even if we get off course, God can still use us to complete his purpose (Romans 8:28).
If you or someone you know is having a difficult time and feeling discouraged, you feel like maybe your ministry would be better off without you or your thoughts may be that you wish you could die, or that something bad would happen to you, or maybe you do love your life and realize that it’s not your time to go, but you still fill like quitting or giving up, here are some suggestions:
1.) If you are considering taking your life and feel like you can’t go on, and life would be better without you, please call the suicide hotline 1-800-273-8255, 911, or go to your nearest hospital.
2.) If you are feeling down and discouraged please contact a close friend, family member or pastor, before giving up or quitting. Having someone to talk to and see things from a different perspective could make all the difference.
3.) Seek professional help to deal with any feelings of depression. They can help find the source, techniques to cope, and ways to move forward.
4.) Continue to seek God. As we continue to read in I Kings chapter 19 verse 12, God spoke to Elijah in a whisper. We may not be hearing God, not because he isn’t speaking but because he is speaking to us in a gentle and small voice.
5.) Take time for yourself, in I Kings 19:5,6 Elijah rested and ate and drank. Do not neglect getting plenty of sleep, eating healthy and remaining hydrated.
6.) As always feel free to reach out to Here 2 There ministries at [email protected]
Christy Paul, LMHC