Friday, September 9, 2011

Migraine, Suicide and Faith; What Does God Really Think When I Feel Suicidal

This post is written by a dear friend and Migraineur, Cyndi Jordan. Her compassion flows through her words and I am honored that she would be a guest blogger on this topic:

The subject of suicide is frequently a contentious topic among individuals of the Christian faith.  It seems to run counterproductive to all that the Bible teaches, and there are many who treat individuals with depression or suicidal ideation as if they have committed an unforgiveable sin.  Too often Christians with depression are made to feel that their depression is a sign of spiritual weakness.  They are told to “trust God,” “to pray,” and “to ask for forgiveness.”  Frequently the basis of their very faith is challenged by those who believe that a true believer would never even consider taking their life.

While it is clear in the Scriptures that our bodies are the temple of God (I Corinthians 6:19 and that it is He who determines our days (Proverbs 16:9), it is equally clear that “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)  We are dearly loved children of the Lord and while our depression and thoughts of suicide may grieve Him, they are not something that can separate us from the love of God.  (Romans 8:38 & 39) I believe that it is that sense of separation, of feeling not accepted for who we are and how we feel by God and by others, that causes further estrangement, isolation and depression.

For that reason, it is important that when we feel the most depressed and anxious that we draw near to God, knowing that He draws near to us.  (James 4:8)  He knows who we are and what we think and knows that we are but human, sinners, ragamuffins in need of a loving heavenly Father. (Psalm 103:14)  We come to Him, at all times - in need and in plenty; with feelings of desperation or of joy - as beloved children.  He does not look upon us with disdain, condemnation or disappointment.  He does not hold back good from us because we are behaving in what some may consider an unfaithful manner.  No, He regards us with love, compassion and mercy - the very things we need most from the people in our life and the church as well when we are suffering.  (Matthew 7:9-11)

It is not God who scoffs at sinners or has no mercy for those who are depressed and feeling suicidal.  In fact, the Bible has several examples of great men of God who at one time in their life felt that desperation and wanted to die.  Elijah, one of the greatest prophets, ran away to the mountains and there said “I have had enough, take my life.” (I Kings 19:4) Scripture says that in his weariness, he sat down under a bush and prayed to die.  How those words resonate with me when I am feeling most depressed - how many times have I said those very words!  I may not have sat under a bush, but I have withdrawn and just longed for it to all be over with.

As I read 1 Kings, I can visualize Elijah so despondent, begging God for relief, begging God to show Himself.  I see him being like me when I cry “God, if you are really God, take this pain away from me.”  Interestingly, Elijah also looked for evidence of the Lord - he looked for it in a powerful wind, an earthquake and a fire - mighty manifestations of strength.  And like Elijah that’s what I want, but also like Elijah, I find that God doesn’t come to me during those times with powerful healing or miraculous insights (although it is certainly within His power), but rather in the still quiet voice like Elijah heard.

I believe when I am most desperate God does not require anything of me, but to be still and to wait so that He can whisper in my ear how much He loves me, how He promises to get me through what I am experiencing, that He has a plan and a purpose for me in spite of my condition and that it is for good. (Jeremiah 29:11)  He does not rage at my disbelief, at my emotions, at my desperation.  He does not chasten or punish me.  He does not ask me why my faith isn’t stronger or tell me to pray more.  He just accepts me. 

There is so much freedom in that - freedom from the judgement, shock and disdain that many in the Christian community portray when the word suicide comes up.  There is nothing I can do to shock God or to separate myself from Him.  The Scripture is comforting when it says “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin.”  (Hebrews 4:15)  Jesus himself cried out “my God, my God why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 15:34).  Moses in Numbers asked God to kill him if life was going to continue the way that it was.  Jonah, because of the situation in which he found himself, said “Now, LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4:3) 

We are not alone in our feelings of desperation.  They do not make us a lesser person or a lesser Christian.  They do not prevent us from going on to doing good things and being a treasured and productive child of God (i.e. Elijah, Jonah, Moses).  Our desperation amplifies our need for God, our dependence on Him.  It also amplifies His amazing, non-condemning love for us.  Those who feel less than because of their suicidal ideation or are made to feel less than by other Christians or church goers are not listening to the voice of God as portrayed in the Scripture.  God never brings condemnation, only conviction, and with that conviction comes the love and the grace to make it through the dark night of our souls.  God longs to walk with each of us during that dark night of pain, of depression and to give us hope when things seem most hopeless.  

If you, or someone you know, is in suicidal crisis or emotional distress please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Please read today's personal story, Perspective Determines the View.

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