By Jeremy Stalnecker
Several events this week reminded me of something that I have always known to be true. It’s funny how we can learn something and then forget we know it until, for some reason, it once again comes to our attention. What was that “thing” for me this week?
There are a lot of desperate, hopeless people in our world right now.
This is always true, of course, because we live in a fallen world. It is possible though in the busyness of our own lives to forget just HOW MUCH good people can struggle! The events that reminded me?
An article on Fox News (find it here) reported on findings from the Department of Defense that suicides among Active Duty military members are up nearly 20% with the Army number closer to 30%. Men and women who are serving our country (doing something good and noble) have lost hope for the future and view ending their lives as the only real option.
Three people that I know well, had friends/or relatives take their lives in the last 7 days.
Nearly every day this week I have had conversations with folks reaching out for help because of their own hopelessness and loss.
I was asked the same question on two separate news interviews; “How do we help those who feel desperate after months of quarantine and isolation?”
One of these would have caused me to stop and think but all of them happening within just a few days of each other has caused me to want to grab a microphone and shout to the many who are entertaining a very permanent solution to a temporary problem:
Stop! Don’t Give Up! I know that life may be overwhelming right now, but it will get better! I promise! There is Hope! (I realize this sentence has way too many capital letters and uses exclamation points excessively, but just imagine me shouting instead of writing!!!)
Since I can’t do that, I thought I would offer a few thoughts for anyone struggling with an uncertain, even dark, future. This is not comprehensive, but use it as a lifeline to hang on to and then get the help you need. As bad as your life might feel right now, there are real reasons not to quit.
Hope is always found in our Creator
We don’t have the space to look at all the times throughout scripture we’re told to look to the one who IS our help. Of the many, one passage I love is found in the Psalms:
“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. 2. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2)
Real hope can only come from the one who created and sustains all life. God is the one who never changes and promises to, “Never leave you or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) This is the same God who, in our sinful, broken separation from Him loved us enough to send Jesus to pay for our sin so that we could be forgiven and have a relationship with Him. (Romans 5:8) As easy as it can be to lose sight of all this, knowing that God the Creator loves us provides the hope we need to take the next step forward.
How you FEEL does not necessarily reflect what is TRUE
I learned many years ago not to try and change the way that someone feels. Changing how someone else feels is an impossible task affected by everything from individual biology and nutrition to extreme trauma and loss. Sometimes all that is needed to feel better is a good meal and some rest while other times only long-term counseling can help. Whatever the cause of how you feel, one thing is certain-How you FEEL does not necessarily reflect what is TRUE. Refuse to allow how you feel right now (a feeling that will change at some point) to cause you to ignore the truth. Sometimes we need to be told as adults what our parents told us as kids:
“I’m sorry you feel that way. We are still going to do what’s right.” I would never say it, but somebody should!
People will not be better with you gone. They will be better when you get better.
Every time I have talked to someone who was entertaining thoughts of suicide they said the same thing at some point in the conversation: “Everyone will be better off without me.” The logic, apparently, is that you as the one contemplating suicide have caused so much damage that the only way to help everyone else is to take yourself out of the picture. Let me offer another solution-Find the help that you need and get better! Taking your life only passes your pain to those who are left behind. Getting better gives them hope, help, and the relationship they really want. This is not an easy answer. In fact, it can be extremely difficult. It is, however, the answer that allows us to redeem the broken parts of our life and life the purpose for which we were created.
There is help
If you are reading this and have become convinced that there is no help, that is not true despite how you may feel. Apart from your family and close friends, there are a number of organizations and institutions that exist to help. Here are a few:
- For Veterans, Active Duty Service Members and First Responders, mightyoaksdev.wpengine.com
- Biblical counseling resources, regardless of where you live, Biblical Counseling Coalition.
- Marriage and Relationship help, Family Life.
- In need of immediate help, Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
- A Church in your area. Churches are uniquely equipped to provide help or point to the help you need right in your community.
Please, if you are contemplating suicide or self-harm, DON”T! You will leave pain and brokenness behind that can never fully be repaired.
You are needed. There is HOPE. Don’t Quit!
(For more posts like this, check out Jeremy’s blog: https://jeremystalnecker.com/)