In a college class, one of my professors asked for a show of hands for the number of students who had contemplated suicide at some point in their lives. I was shocked when almost every single hand, including mine, went up in the air. He went on to explain that almost everyone thinks about it at some point but few actually carry through.
This professor had no idea how very close I had come to carrying through on my thoughts of suicide just a few years prior. During a marriage that involved great pain, deep depression, and no hope of ever changing, I considered suicide to be my only way out of the anguish I was in. I fought and fought to stay alive because I truly wanted to live but didn’t want the pain anymore.
Painful places have many causes: depression, betrayal, death of a loved one, financial problems, health issues and so many more. We will all, at some point in our lives, suffer in a painful place. Sadly, that is part of our lives here on earth.
For months I slept holding a Bible in my arms. It was the only way I could make it through the darkness of the nights. Somehow, I knew my hope was found in that book even though I had never opened the covers to find out what it said. If I had known what I know now, I would have coped better in the darkness because God’s Word contains the hope that I desperately needed. Hope can be found in the following verses (and many more):
In Hebrews 13:5b, God says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” I wasn’t alone in my pain as I originally thought. Someone did understand. He was with me when the pain began, He saw all that happened and all that was said, and He never left me. You are never alone either.
Jeremiah 31:3 promises: “(I, God)…have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” Someone did love me completely just as I was, even enough to die for me. He is faithful. His love is everlasting. He will never stop loving me. Nothing can cause Him to stop loving you either.
Psalm 23:4 tells us that even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we are not to fear because He is with us; He comforts us. All those painful examples I listed above can be the valley of the shadow of death or darkness. The Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) calls it the “darkest valley.” Picture a really dark valley. Can you feel the heaviness and the uncertainty of what is out there? We don’t have to stay in this darkness forever. Psalm 30:5b promises us that, “weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”
No matter how bad it seems today, joy will come again. We just have to hold on until it shows up and be prepared to embrace it. Had I taken my own life, I would have shattered my family. That was the number one reason I couldn’t do it. I didn’t want my pain to be transferred to my family. I would have missed so much joy. Graduating from college. Raising my children. A second marriage that is strong. Good friends and great trips. Wonderful grandchildren. And worst of all, I would have missed Jesus because I didn’t know Him even though He was with me.
I finally needed to get help with my depression. I saw someone who helped me walk through the pain toward healing. I took medication to take the edge off the despair. Don’t be afraid to seek help. In fact, if you are in a tough place right now, reach out to someone today. Call a friend. Call a local pastor. Call a counselor. See your medical doctor. Do something today.
Hold on in that dark valley. Hold on to Jesus. Hold on to life. His Word promises that joy will come again and it will be a new day. The darkness will be gone and the Light will be there with you. Whenever I feel depressed now, I remember that joy will come again. I just have to hold on. And joy does come again and I can embrace it. I love the Joy-Giver and I love those He has given me who bring me joy. Life is good in the morning and bearable in the darkness when Jesus holds you in His hands. Don’t give up. Hold on for the coming joy. God promises it will come again. And God does not lie. Ever.