I just read on Facebook that one of my friends was requesting prayer. He just received news that his friend (a man I do not know) has just committed suicide. Left behind are a wife and two little girls. Please pray for them.
I hate to hear news like this. I hate it because of the bomb of suffering that has detonated in his home, leaving every surviving member to suffer with years of their own kind of hell. I hate it that they will miss his presence in their lives and that these children will probably never understand why their daddy had to die.
Still more, I hate it for the man who died. I hate it because I’m confident that in the blackness of his night, he could not see a brighter day. There was probably ONLY the fire of his mind and/or his body that consumed his days. In suffering there really is no time. Suffering FEELS like eternity because rarely (if ever) does the darkness lift. It is just there, heavy and oppressive, strangling you slowly. It does not allow you to see better times ahead. It blinds you from seeing a brighter tomorrow. Death seems like sweet release.
At this point you may be wondering, “how does he know what that feels like?” The truth is that I LIVED in this dark night of the soul for about 12 years. I hate it for this man because I very easily could have BEEN him.
No, I have never been suicidal. But I have felt so hopeless that I did not want to live anymore. I was afraid to die because I did not know where I stood with God, and I was terrified of finding out. Yet, life seemed so bleak at times, so grievous, that I just wanted the pain to go away.
That is part of my testimony.
The other part of my testimony is that smack-dab in the middle of my hell was my relationship with God. For much of those 12 years I felt like God was my Enemy and that He was a cruel taskmaster. I saw my own sin as much too difficult for me (or God) to overcome, and I saw the grace of God through Jesus Christ as not applying to my sinful condition. And through much of this time I was in seminary PREPARING TO BE A PASTOR!
What I could not fully realize at the time was that He was actually walking through my hell will me, and He was holding my hand the whole way. God, by His grace, was carrying me through the fire. Much like David in Psalm 139:7-8, this was God to me:
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in (the grave), you are there!
In spite of myself, at the bleakest of moments when I could not see a way out, God would speak to me POWERFULLY through His Word things like Isaiah 54:11-12:
“O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted,
behold, I will set your stones in antimony,
and lay your foundations with sapphires.
I will make your pinnacles of agate,
your gates of carbuncles,
and all your wall of precious stones.”
Through verses like these God spoke peace into my heart as if to say, “I see where you are right now, but you will not remain here. I am going to make something beautiful out of your life.”
That would give me some breathing room for moments or days, but soon the darkness would return and would send me reeling in depression again. Literally, for the better part of 12 years this was my life. Utter despair was followed by glimpses of hope, followed by utter despair, etc., etc., ad nauseam…
Throughout this entire dark night, my only hope was found in the Word of God. Throughout the insane cycle of this time period, God would whisper HOPE to me that virtually no person could do. I always just thought that people were just trying to be nice, but they ( I thought) could not truly see the depths of my depravity–only God could. Yet, when I would stumble upon some Bible verse it would truly nourish my soul.
There is a verse in Matthew 10:27 that Jesus speaks to His disciples when He says:
“What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light;
and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops.”
The reason I am writing this blog today is to encourage YOU if you are in this dark night of the soul. For those 12 years Jesus was speaking to ME in the darkness. He was whispering into MY ear promises and comforts from His Word when I thought that I was beyond hope. Yet, He also gives me a command from these verses, too…
He tells me to “speak in the light” and “proclaim upon the housetops.” The truth of the matter is that God DID come and DID set me free from the utter hopelessness that my life would ever be better. When I thought I had sinned too much and gone too far, I was wrong.
My situation and circumstances are my own. They would take way too long to describe here and are private. However, I am here to proclaim to YOU in the light, YOUR SITUATION IS NOT TOO DESPERATE FOR JESUS TO CHANGE. Everyone feels that their case is different and too far gone for God to encounter.
YOU. ARE. WRONG.
I am here to “proclaim from the rooftops” to tell you to RUN TO JESUS for assistance. He will help you. It may take time, but whoever puts their hope in Him will never be put to shame (Psalm 25:3). I can tell you that this is TRUE, as someone who has been bogged down in the miry clay of life.
I hate that this depressed man saw no way out for himself. Still, I wanted to take this opportunity today to share with you if you are struggling with despair, there IS hope.
“There is no pit so deep that Christ is not deeper still.” (Corrie ten Boom)