The Christian, Depression, and Suicide From a Heavenly Perspective

Ever since Robin Williams' death and alleged suicide, there has been much talk in private conversations as well as mass media coverage and personal blog posts. I generally stay out of these "hot" topics because there's already been more saturation of a certain issue than necessary.

So, as unusual as it is for me to write about the topic of depression and suicide after we've all been immersed in volumes of words over the past few days, I am writing about it. Not to join in and repeat what's already been said, but to bring a heavenly perspective to it so that all who read this, might find true hope.

I don't share this often, and especially not in public. But I feel it's time now that I must, so that the work of God may be displayed in my life (John 9:3) even in the depths of sorrow.

When I was 15 years old, I became so depressed by all that I suffered and all the horrid evils that were hurled at my little frail body since I was four, I wanted to escape. Brutally persecuted for being a Christian for 11 years, raped twice, stalked by a neighbor in his late twenties for nearly seven years and bombarded by teen hormones and the cruelty of high school life...I was done.

Seeing no other way out, I made my first attempt to take the life God gave me. Back in those days, we didn't have coated pills, so when I tried to overdose, the pills began to melt in my watery hands as I leaned over the sink to cup water in my hands, swallowing as many pills at one time, as quickly as possible. But since so many melted, I also took a host of other medications I found in our medicine cabinet. I made myself very ill and remember waking up in bed with no one in my family knowing what happened. At least I don't think they did. We never talked about it.

My second attempt was to jump out my two-story window. I did, but not realizing it wasn't high enough, to my great disappointment, and being an athlete, I subconsciously landed well and only sprained my ankle. Feeling even more desperate at two failed attempts and worried that by now, my family might suspect something and try to stop me, I quietly began formulating another plan. And this time, it would be fail-proof....and it was. I won't share what I planned lest I give anyone ideas. But trust me, it was fail-proof.

After carefully plotting and planning my last days here on earth. I exhibited what many suicidal people do. I was happier than I'd ever been. And everyone noticed. I went from being sullen, bitter and desperately hopeless, to extreme bliss and peace nearly overnight! Why? Because I had finally decided and knew without a doubt, my plan to take my own life (the one I had no right to take because I'm not the Author of it) was finally in view. It was over. I could finally see the light at the end of the I thought.

You see, I was saved when I was four, so during all these calamities I was a Christian. Yet, in great despair, as a Christian, I had no other Christians around me who cared enough to love me through this.

But there was always God. And for a time, it seemed enough, until I took my eyes off Jesus and put them on myself and others.

I was determined to leave this miserable place and go Home to eternal bliss before my Savior!

But there was always God. And, there was the way He made me. Jesus said, "Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Mk 14:38) and it is written, "if we are faithless, He remains faithful—for He cannot deny Himself." (2 Tim 2:13), and again it is written, "And I am sure of this that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." (Phil 1:6).

I had no tender heart to help me out of the cesspool of depression and suicidal inclinations, whether in this world or within the Body of Christ.

But there was always God. God my Father who created me for His purpose. God my Father who called me to Himself by gracing me with the gift of repentance that leads to salvation. God my Father who called me His own, through faith in His one and only begotten Son. God my Father who saw the horrible sins done to me and even those I did to others, gifted me and purposed me to love Him and others—greater than myself. So as I sat down to write my suicide note, and read over it, I realized my prevailing thought, "Let me write this, sharing what signs and symptoms a suicidal person displays so that when I'm gone and others read it, it will help other people who may know someone who's suicidal and help them."

This curious suicide note caused me to pray, "Lord, please make sure this note gets into the right hands so it will help many. Please open the blind eyes of people, especially in the church who are so wrapped up in their own lives, they can't see the brutal nakedness of those who are hurting...right before their very eyes. And Lord, please don't be angry with me. Oh Lord! Will you be angry with me? I never thought of that!"

In all the time I carefully planned the taking of my own life, I never thought about what God might think about all this. I was consumed with what I thought and how I thought others would feel. My singular focus was inward and horizontal rather than vertical. No wonder I remained in such despair.

Remembering Psalm 139, I saw clearly I would grieve God if I took my own life because He created me and numbered and ordained all my days before any of them began (Ps 139:16). His purpose is greater than mine. And His glorious love is greater than any pain I will ever suffer here. Convinced of the truth of the Gospel and from the whole counsel of God through His perfect Word, I no longer cared about what others did or said. I cared more about what my holy, good, and merciful God and Father did, is doing, and will continue to do to and for me, in Christ Jesus the Lord. I was once again living in the freedom Christ suffered and died to give me. I was no longer enslaved by the tactics of Satan's deception and my own sinful flesh that desired my will over God's will.

Depression isn't pretty. Suicidal thoughts and attempts, failed or successful aren't pretty either. But God, my Christ, is always gloriously beautiful and His ways and thoughts are infinitely greater and higher than ours! Trying to comfort people who are depressed and/or suicidal in the dark caverns of confusion and desperation, with the ways of this not is not helpful.

It is written, "'All things are lawful,' but not all things are helpful. 'All things are lawful,' but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor." (1 Cor 10:23-24) Whether we do the most mundane things in life, like eating and drinking, we are to do it all things for the glory of God. We are commanded to love God with everything we have and love others as ourselves. However, we are not commanded to love God and others the way we want and think is best. And human philosophies, pretty painted words and emotion-filled ideologies of comfort, hope and peace, are neither helpful nor do they build up.

Rather than turn hurting hearts and tear-filled eyes toward heaven, toward Christ, we try to comfort others by allowing them to remain inward and horizontal—the place where the despair began and swells. Rather than mourn with those who mourn and give them time to weep over the heartaches, praying the entire time so that we can clearly hear God say, "The time of mourning is over, now get up and walk", we sit too long in another person's cesspool. In this, we are not seeking the good of our neighbor, but we are seeking our own good, because if we're honest with ourselves, we do this because it makes us feel better about ourselves. It makes us "feel" like we're helping them, though God says we are not.

If you know someone who is depressed, you first need to pray before you intervene because only God knows if the depression is a faith issue caused by sin (theirs or others), or a medical issue. Then prepare by immersing yourself in Scripture so you can be strong enough to actually help the person suffering from depression rather than falling for the deceptive practices of this world yourself (1 Cor 10:12).

Remember, the only help we can offer anyone in need is the hope found in Jesus Christ alone. For this alone is true hope. In Christ alone can anything in this miserable world make sense and make us want to press on...for He who suffered more than any human being ever has or ever will, yet was without sin, suffered for our sake; reconciling us to God.

Desiring to take your own life is a sin.

But there is always God. Trust Him and look to Him; not yourself or others. Only the Gospel saves. Only the Gospel heals. Only the Gospel restores and produces right thinking and praise.

"Be not wise in your eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil... The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death... Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live on forever and never see the pit... [but] Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered... The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit... As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust."
~Proverbs 3:7, 14:27;
Psalm 49:7-9, 32:1, 34:18, 103:13-14 (ESV)