by Joy Martin, Set Me Free Ministries Co-founder
This week my heart has been heavy. Today is no different. I’ve been pondering writing this blog for several days now, but I haven’t been able to make myself sit down and write until now, mostly because I don’t want to face the pain behind this week’s inspiration. Ironic, I suppose, given the title.
You see, this past week I attended the funeral of a young man who took his own life. In fact, in the past year, I have witnessed the aftermath of three suicides. I’ve seen families, friends, and loved ones left with little more than questions. No matter the circumstances surrounding the tragic death, the survivors are all left brokenhearted, wondering what went wrong. Twice in the past five months, I’ve heard the sound of a mother’s heart breaking as she’s wept for her lost child, a life cut short. I’m writing this blog because I never want to hear that sound again. I never want anyone to hear that sound again.
These three men came from vastly different worlds—different ages, different stages of life, different family situations. Nearly different everything, except for that one tragic moment that will forever bind them together in my memory—the moment each chose to end his own life. Although I will never know why, one thing is painfully clear. Each of these men came to a point in his life when he decided death was a better option than continuing on with the pain of living. That’s a dark, dark place to be. I know, because I was nearly there myself once.
I can still remember the moment as if it happened yesterday. I was a brand-new mom struggling to keep my head above water as I battled postpartum depression, although I didn’t realize it at the time. I was having a hard time nursing; my newborn son wasn’t latching well, I was fighting to keep up a horribly low milk supply, and we were both trying to overcome problems with yeast. It was the middle of the night. My husband was sound asleep, and I had just put my precious baby back to sleep in his crib, which meant it was time for me to sit at the kitchen table and pump in an effort to boost my supply. To say I was exhausted would be an understatement. As I sat and watched my milk barely drip into the bottles I held in each hand, something inside me broke. I remember looking over at our set of kitchen knives neatly tucked into their wooden caddy, and I thought to myself, I wonder if anyone would care if they found me lying in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor tomorrow morning.
I thank God that I snapped out of that moment. I’m thankful for family and friends who listened when I reached out for help and supported me, at times almost literally carrying me through my darkest moments. I was able to overcome my depression, and I’m now able to recognize when it creeps back up and know when it’s time to ask for help. Unfortunately, not every story of depression has a happy ending. I thank God on a regular basis that mine does.
I tell you this because I know depression is a hard reality for many people. For some, their struggles are known to those around them. For others, they are a carefully guarded secret. But whatever the case, I want you to know—no, I need you to know—that there is hope.
Hope. Sometimes it feels like such a distant thing—untouchable, really. But I assure you that it is not so distant if you know where to look. Psalm 34:18 tells us, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” I love that.
I was recently chatting with a dear friend who recently lost a loved one to suicide. Needless to say, he is hurting and at times feels very alone. I told him that as cliché as it sounds, he never has to feel alone, because God is always there. That’s something I’d like to shout from the rooftops and make the world hear.
So for anyone reading who struggles with depression, for anyone who knows someone who deals with depression, for anyone who has ever felt alone, abandoned, helpless, or hopeless, I want you to know that there is hope. There is hope in the arms of the Creator of the Universe, who loves you more than you can even fathom.
I want to close with the following passage from the book of Isaiah. It gives me goose bumps as I read it.
“Why do you say, O Jacob,
And speak, O Israel:
‘My way is hidden from the Lord,
And my just claim is passed over by my God’?
Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.”
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
National Crisis Help Line