In response to Netflix’s very popular series, 13 Reasons Why, a series about 13 reasons why a teen chooses to take her life, I want to continue to offer you 13 reasons why not to take your life---teens and adults alike. I’ve previously covered seven reasons in previous blogs.
Here is number eight: You are not the only person going through difficult times. You are not alone in your anguish and pain. Many people throughout the world are going through similar, fiery trials (1 Peter 4:12).
Though this fact doesn’t necessarily diminish your own pain, it should give you hope. The implication is that if others have gone through difficult times, some/many have found a reason to keep living.
There is nothing quite so painful as feeling you’re the only one going through a difficult situation. You feel that no one can empathize with or understand your pain. You start to isolate yourself. You engage in self-pity. Depression overtakes you. Your emotions swirl downward into a vortex of despair. Every day that passes, the darkness becomes darker and the hopelessness more intense. Eventually, you give up and take your life.
But before you take your life, stop, and think. Realize that there are people all over the world passing through tougher times than yours.
My wife and I were recently among a group of 12 Iraqi women who were forced to flee Iraq because of persecution against their Christian faith. Yet we were both astonishingly surprised by the smiles on their faces and lilt in their voices.
Each one shared a horrifying story of torture, imprisonment, and fleeing their homeland. They showed us cell phone pictures of their loved ones with cigarette burns on their feet and bruises on their bodies from hideous beatings.
Yet these great women of faith and valor refused to fall into despair. They steadfastly and valiantly fought temptations toward depression. They continued to believe that though the evil was real and personal, God was good and loving and had a beautiful plan for their lives (Genesis 50:20).
That’s the message of the cross. Evil did its worst to God’s Son, hideously killing him in the most painful form of Roman execution. But God used it for good. From it, our sins are forgiven and by grace through faith we are given the gift of eternal life (Ephesians 2:8-9). Through the cross, we have hope that one day God’s love and goodness will conquer all evil.
This world is a terribly broken place. Because of our rebellion against God (Genesis 3), every part of God’s once-good created world is not working as he intended. Since all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23), every single person experiences some level of pain. Human pain is real. It’s personal. It hurts. And it’s something everyone experiences.
Jesus loves you (John 3:16). He is pursuing you with his love. He wants to touch those broken places within you and give you his living hope (1 Peter 1:13).
Also, please don’t forget this truth: Jesus formed his church to be a community of hurting people seeking hope together. Find a good one today. Find a Bible study group you can join. Though you are saved by grace alone, you were never intended to live the Christian life alone.
Once there, share your hurts. Listen to their hurts. Realize you are not alone. Pray for one another. Encourage one another. Love one another. Confess your sins to one another. Feel Jesus in your midst. Hear him say to you, often through others’ voice, “Peace, be still! Don’t be afraid. You can be whole again.”
You may even discover that when you share your life situation, it gives hope to another. If so, you will realize the amazing biblical truth that when you go help another person going through depression, your own depression is often lifted (Isaiah 58:10). It’s an amazing, reciprocal law of the universe: When you give hope to another, hope is given to you!
One day Jesus will return and make all things new (Revelation 21:5). Until that glorious day, when all pain, discouragement, depression, despair, and disease are gone, choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19). Then you’ll be able to realize:
Others are going through similar tough times. You are not alone in your pain.
Others throughout the world have found life still meaningful even though they’ve been through horrific situations. Therefore, so can you.
Jesus promises that he will always be present beside you, even to the close of the age (Matthew 28:20). Though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, he will be with you (Psalm 23:4). He said don’t fear, for he is with you (Matthew 14:27). He promises his protection (Psalm 28:7). One word of hope from him causes all the powers of darkness to flee (John 1:5). Walk in his strength (Psalm 71:16).
Make sure you get involved in a community of faith, where people can help you and you can help them. Your presence and encouraging words of faith may very well be God’s highway of hope to them.
Yes, be an instrument of healing to others.
Then see if your own depression starts to be lifted.
If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.
Isaiah 58:10 (ESV)