How does a Christian commit suicide? How does a person who claims to know Jesus as her personal savior kill one’s self? If I believe Jesus has overcome the world, shouldn’t suicide be impossible? I can’t speak to anyone else’s situation but I know that, in February 2020, while I didn’t want to commit suicide; I felt I had no other alternative.
I’ve struggled with thoughts of suicide my entire life. There were abuses at home and suicide seemed like a good way to make it end. I endured terrible bullying at school and suicide was a way not only of making it stop but I was sure that, once I had killed myself, those bullying me would see the error of their ways. Books were a way of escape for me during these years and I have never ceased being grateful to the authors who wrote stories of teenage girls making it through difficult times.
The last time I ever thought of suicide, before my experience in 2020, happened about a year after my car accident. I had lost everything and didn’t think I could face living every day brain damaged and in chronic pain. I remember lying in bed with tears running down my face and praying to die. I had a series of thoughts then and they started with, what if? What if I did kill myself? What if, when I found myself in the presence of God, it turned out He did have a plan for me? What if my life wasn’t really over? What if I didn’t kill myself? Well then, if suicide was no longer as an option, the only thing I could do was get up, put cold water on my face, and take one day at a time.
My hope in Jesus got me through. Even though there were times when I was so tired and I hurt so badly I did long for it to be over, I never seriously considered suicide. Even when I faced various crises, even when I wondered if what I believed about Jesus was true, even when I considered whether or not He even existed, I never thought of suicide. Through these crises, The Holy Spirit opened my eyes and I began a walk with Jesus that was more wonderful than anything I’d ever known. I knew the joy and peace only Jesus could bring and yet, after seventeen years of walking with Him and learning of Him, I once more found myself considering suicide. How did it happen?
It didn’t happen overnight. I had endured years of pain and exhaustion. There were times of revelation and refreshing from the Holy Spirit that made this life worth living, but there was no end to the pain and exhaustion. I had other health issues. One major one culminated in the surgery I’ve mentioned before. But, before I had to have this surgery, I took a job. It was for a small company-less than five employees-and it was wonderful. My co-workers were kind and welcoming. My boss was also kind, and flexible, and genuinely cared about taking care of the people who worked for him. I had a quiet office to myself with a large window overlooking a dog park. My boss was understanding, flexible, supported me through my surgery, and was equally supportive during my recovery.
A year after my surgery, the job ended. The company was sold to another and I was kept on to help with both the wrapping up of the company I worked for and the transfer of information to the new company. Operations transferred to an area outside of the boundaries I am comfortable driving on my own. Making it to and from the job now meant I’d have to take the train.
I don’t ride the train. I have equilibrium issues with my brain injury and the swaying motion of the train makes train travel a nightmare. Even if I can secure a seat in the very front car, I am dizzy and nauseous after even a short train ride. Then, there’s my physical problems. I don’t know how many of you ride public transportation but those seats are not made for someone who has back problems. And yet, that was where the job had gone and I had no choice. No matter. I could use ginger chews to help steady my stomach. I would use topical analgesics and pain killers to endure the physical side of things. The rides would be unpleasant but endurable. Besides, what did I know? Maybe this was a chance to step out in faith that God would finally heal me. Together, we had this. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, right?
Wrong. I lasted less than a month. Those days are a bit of a blur memory wise but I do remember the agony. I could not continue. I was going to let down the boss who had been so kind to me. Here was another situation where I could not meet expectations. I was not strong enough and I obviously wasn’t smart enough because I couldn’t figure out a way to make it work. More than that, it was clear God wasn’t stepping up to help me. I was a failure. And, even if I quit and found another job, I was bound to fail no matter where I went. I would always carry my disability with me. Not only this, but it was obvious God wasn’t helping me. Somewhere, I had missed whatever His grand plan was so I had failed Him as well. Whatever He’d been trying to tell me over the years, I hadn’t heard it. If I needed proof that the life of a broken down, disabled, mentally deficient human being could not be used of God, here it was. There really was only one alternative.
I was in a strange headspace. I had no strong desire to die. I didn’t really want to commit suicide but suicide felt inevitable. While I had everything I needed to make it painless, I couldn’t go through with it because I didn’t want to hurt my family: especially my mother. I didn’t want her to have to find me. Before I did anything, I had to speak to my boss and tell him I could no longer ride the train.
The Word of the Lord came to me. A meeting of a Christian Women’s group popped up in my Facebook feed. The location was close so driving would not be a problem and was in a neighborhood I was familiar with so there was no problem finding it. I had a strong urge to go but it didn’t make any sense. I tend to avoid women’s groups as I cannot join in conversations about husbands and kids. But, I felt I was being told to go and I obeyed. Besides, they were offering donuts so the morning wouldn’t be a total loss.
Those poor women. They weren’t through their first worship song before I started to cry. I continued to cry all through the opening worship and prayer time. Ugly crying. I was able to get it under control for the message though I sat there with tears streaming down my cheeks which I could do nothing to stop. At least I’d graduated to silent crying. I had about a half a box of Kleenex in my bag and I used every bit of it along with a good portion of the napkins reserved for donut consumption. I barely remember the message. What I do remember is the presence of The Holy Spirit all around me: holding me, loving me, and comforting me. By the closing prayer, He had restored me and given me revelation.
It wasn’t that I had failed God and now He was done with me. He loved me. Neither had He failed me. I hadn’t ever asked Him what He was doing in the situation. I had listened to what my boss said he needed and determined to meet that need no matter what. I had agreed with him and expected God would strengthen me to do what I was sure I needed to do. What I had done in heeding my boss’s words was hallow his name above that of God.
We believers pray “Hallowed be thy name” whenever we pray the family prayer. Do we ever take the time to consider what we are praying? To hallow means to make holy, purify or consecrate, to venerate (hagiazo G37). How do we do this? If we are focusing on God alone, that means we listen to what He is saying to us in The Word Jesus, we listen to the words He has spoken through others recorded for us in scripture, and we listen to the words spoken to us in and by His Spirit. By listening and obeying we venerate Him alone and are agreeing with the rest of the prayer: Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done. When we listen and obey any other voice, even when the words are coming from someone we like and respect, or perhaps someone we love, we are repeating the folly of Adam and Eve.
One thing I think we believers don’t pay enough attention to is the nature of the sin committed in the Garden of Eden. It wasn’t to murder or steal or to do anything evil. Rather it was a good thing. To be as God, to know good and evil, surely that was a good thing to become. All it required was listening to and obeying the serpent rather than God. I have found our enemy has not had to change his tactics in all these eons. Why would he when they continue to work?
Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right unto a man, but its end is the way of death.” These choices to listen to another voice seem like the right thing to do. The trap I am particularly susceptible to falling into is when people need my help. There’s often a “no one else can do it” attached to it and, before I know it, I’m sucked in. But, how can it be a bad thing to help people? It isn’t, of course, but the voice I choose to listen to means the difference between trying to live life in my own strength-which is quickly depleted-and living life from the very source of life; Jesus. It is quenching the Spirit rather than abiding in the vine.
I am convinced the secret to this life of abiding is listening. I have to ignore my reflex reaction to run out and fix things and instead, “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6). I trust Him and, because I know He loves me, I know that I can cast all my cares upon Him (1 Peter 5:7). I do cast everything on Him and then I wait and I listen. When He speaks, I obey.
I’m not overly fond of clichés however I do feel as though I have a new lease on life. I want to tell anyone who might be experiencing what I experienced and feeling as I felt that you are loved by God with a love you cannot begin to fathom. Your life is of supreme importance. If you are tired, come to Jesus. If you are burdened, come to Jesus. Listen to His voice alone. Learn from Him. You will find rest.
All scriptures are quoted from:
The New King James Version of The Holy Bible, Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, Tennessee, 1982