(Originally posted on our former site on 1/27/2014)
It’s time we talk about suicide. It’s time we talk about it now instead of when it is too late. In the next 24 hours almost 1,500 students across the world will end their life. I’ve put this heavy subject off for a while thinking it may scare a few readers away but it’s time.
Our first year as being youth pastors I was a bit young and naïve. The youth group where we pastored was filled with students I myself had gone to school with, I being only two years their senior. That year was full of curveballs and life lessons, each taken with a grain of salt. I most often failed but knew that giving up would be so much worse than pressing on- so I pressed on. During that first year, and the many to follow, we have faced a lot of intense issues dealing with students. Death, drug addiction, teenage pregnancy, sexual abuse, and many more but nothing hit me harder than this one little word… suicide.
There was a high school literally right across the street from our church. That first year we served as pastors a young girl at that school took her own life. Have you ever heard news so shocking that it literally took your breath away; as if the act of breathing had somehow changed from an involuntary response to something you had to tell your body to do to keep from falling over- in and out, in and out.
This isn't something that happens to people you know or in the city you live. This happens to people you read about in the papers or watch on the news, but not here not now. Could I have done anything to keep this from happening? Could I have taken the five minutes to walk across the street? If I had, would I have even run into her? Would I notice her withdrawn posture, the loneliness in her eyes? Would I have offered to sit next to her and be a friend? Would I have listened to how the hope had left from her conversation? Could I? Would I?
Last week’s blog was on regret, and this my dear friends is one of the greatest regrets I have. I know it is a little on the absurd side to think that I would have stumbled upon her and our conversation would have led to her being with us today- but that’s the thing about regret, it always exaggerates. It keeps us captive inside our “could haves” or “should haves” until we ourselves realize that we’ve stopped moving forward with our own lives.
We can’t fix it, we can’t change it, but we can be better because of it.
Judas was one of the twelve disciples. When I think of this I cannot keep from thinking that he had eleven friends he had done life with for three years. They traveled together. Prayed together. Experienced miracles together. Sat at the feet of Jesus together. So how did this man go from a friend and disciple, to betrayer and regret-ridden hopeless man that took his own life?
He had made a huge mistake and his friends deserted him.
Can I just take a minute to say that we all make mistakes. We can say all we want that sin is equal, and it is- but only in the eyes of God. In the eyes of man, unfortunately, it is so very unequal.
Judas had betrayed the very man that had brought them all together and instead of forgiving his sin and reaching out a loving hand, they forsook him and turned their backs to flee. (Matthew 26:56) Friend-less. Judas runs to the chiefs to try and undo what he had done only to have them respond in sarcasm, “what is that to us?” (Matthew 27:4) Hope-less. Judas forgets the words of Jesus in the garden, that it “must happen” (Matthew 26:54) so that the “scriptures may be fulfilled” (Matthew 26:56) and decides to end his life. Purpose-less.
If he had waited just a few weeks, Judas would have seen that his one act of betrayal was only the beginning of our beautiful redemption through Jesus Christ. Just a few weeks. But he was friendless, purposeless, and hopeless. Friendless. Purposeless. Hopeless.
Girls, I share my stories with you and point out scriptures such as these so that by it we don’t feel the burden to fix it or change it, but be better because of it.
Fight to be a friend.
A real friend doesn’t walk away when mistakes are made, fight for your friendship even if the one you are fighting against is yourself. Were you hurt? Betrayed? Forgive them. It will probably change your relationship, but don’t abandon them! Knowing Judas would betray Him, Jesus still called him “Friend” (Matthew 26:50).
Offer them hope.
No one needs their failures shoved in their face. Believe me, they haven’t forgotten about them. It is probably all they've thought about. If you are to offer anything offer hope.
Remind them of their purpose.
Over and over in the Bible we find that God has a unique purpose for us all and it is not something that gets thrown to the wayside when we sin. We are still worthy. Still called.
If you know someone battling depression or suicide be "FOR" them- Fight to be a friend, Offer them hope and Remind them of their purpose.
And if you are someone who is struggling with it yourself, let me be your friend! Don't give up, press through. You have purpose and there is hope! I know life gets hard sometimes, I know it seems all so very overwhelming but there are brighter days ahead. I promise you, as one who has been where you are now, it gets better.
God has great things in store for you, just hold on.
Hebrews 6:18-19 So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.