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The Forever Decision
Photo: Martin Applegate
We were shocked at the sad news. A few years ago a young adult in our church committed suicide.

People are always shocked. You hear whispers like: “I can’t believe it!” “Why would he do something like that?” “What happened?” While circumstances vary, for most people who choose to end their own lives, the doorway with no return is labeled “hopelessness.”

Do you know of someone suffering from despondency? Have you ever been so low that you wondered if life was worth living? You might be surprised that many people have struggled with feeling like giving up on life. It is not uncommon to have times of despair. But what “tilts the scale” and raises red flags is when our depression is prolonged (several weeks or more). Even more serious are consistent thoughts (not fleeting thoughts) about ending our lives.

Perhaps the most effective approach to dealing with hopelessness and thoughts of suicide is not something we might naturally gravitate toward. In fact, this may sound downright unkind. But, it is to recognize that dwelling on these thoughts comes out of distorted thinking. What we “believe” (I would be better off dead, I could never be happy again now that [fill in the blank] has happened) is not always true. Challenging our thoughts is a way out of hopelessness.

Suicide is an answer and does solve problems. After all, once you are dead, your problems are gone. But, since it is a “final” decision, it might be worth asking ourselves, “Is this the best way to deal with my problems? Is there any other answer? Am I really certain I want to do this?” Since there is no turning back once you are dead, perhaps it’s worth stopping and reflecting on what the Bible says about death and hope.

Story of Elijah

The classic story of Elijah the prophet having a mountain top victory over King Ahab and the false prophets of Baal (see 1 Kings 19) takes a quick turn when Ahab’s wife threatens to kill Elijah. Notice what the Bible says, “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life [after running until he was exhausted] … He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die” (1 Kings 19:3, 4).

If you read the whole story, you will find that Elijah was physically exhausted, emotionally drained, and believed some things that were not true. He thought he was alone. But God spoke truth to his heart. He basically said to Elijah, “You are not alone. I am with you and I have many others who serve me.”

If you are running or afraid and feel absolutely hopeless, read the story of Elijah. It is a doorway to hope. It encourages you to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually. Thoughts of suicide are based on distortions in thinking. God wants to renew your mind with truth. You are not alone. There is a better day. God cares for you. You can have hope in the Lord to carry you through the most difficult circumstances. Make a decision. Choose to trust in God and not your own thoughts. Believe the words of the Bible.

One final thought. If you (or someone you know) have consistent thoughts about ending your life, do not hesitate for one moment to seek help. Even if you cannot think of one person to call, then call 9-1-1. There are professional people who care and want to help.

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By Curtis Rittenour. Copyright © 2010 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.

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