Identifying with the Life of Job
This photo comes from my top secret peaceful place near Crested Butte. The full moon was so bright I could see for miles through the valley below. It was silent, except for the sound of the creek running below. I sat in awe with a small campfire for hours. Just me, God and His amazing creation.
As I write this I pray that God will use my honesty to reach out to others living in the dark hours. I feel so weak in these hours, but just as in this picture God provides light for me to see what He needs me to see in the dark.
I have tried to deny the diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, at some point things become undeniable. With this comes hypervigilance that can make me jump at the slightest threat, surprise or physical touch. Night terrors that haunt my days. Insomnia that can keep me awake for over a week. All of these are quite trying for me. These are my true struggles and living with physical challenges is no comparison. The most trying for my family and friends is being chronically suicidal. Yes, that’s right. I’m getting real about the evil that stalks me in this land.
That means for many years now there is not a day that has gone by that I haven’t wanted to die. It can be a good day or a worse day and the thought still crosses my mind that this could all be over. The majority of the time this is a thought that I can quickly bypass, find the fun in life and move on. However there are times that is not so easily done.
This last Christmas I decided to dig into God’s word to see what it says about being suicidal or more precisely the longing to be done with the evil, hurt and trials of this world.
Job! Man the stuff that guy went through. In chapter 3 Job cries out to God and begins to ask the questions of his heart. “Why is light given to those in misery, and life to the bitter of soul, to those who long for death that does not come, who search for it more than for hidden treasure, who are filled with gladness and rejoice when they reach the grave? Why is life given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in? For sighing has become my daily food; my groans pour out like water. What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.” (Job 3:20-26 NIV) Job never expresses plans to end his own life. In my life I believe that comes from pure evil. However I have prayed these verses many, many times. It brings me comfort to know a righteous servant of God could also have such a longing for the pain to be done.
Job’s friends came to comfort him. Eliphaz makes some comments that I could almost translate into what has been said to me. “Your words have supported those who stumbled; you have strengthened faltering knees. But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged; it strikes you, and you are dismayed.” Job 4:4-5 NIV. The last time that I was hospitalized for being suicidal I found my faith in question. If I have hope and believe in God how could I long for my life to be over? How can I write encouragement for others, yet want my life to be over?
I don’t have easy answers to these questions. I know two realities in my life. The most important being that I have a loving God and father who sent His only Son to bear the pain of all of this, including my sinful, doubting heart and mind on the cross. That through this I have a hope in being with Him in heaven when the evil of this world is gone and His presence here and now through the Holy Spirit. The second reality is that I cannot deny the symptoms of my PTSD and the things I have experienced. Nor can I deny the evil that lurks all around me. It’s scary, painful and angering for my family and friends but I have to be vigilant to protect my heart and mind. At times this means reaching out for help to save my own life. Being suicidal can be something that is very difficult for others to understand. Please, if you need help don’t be afraid to reach out to those around you.
I cannot deny the thoughts and feelings that enter my mind, right or wrong. However, I also cannot begin to deny my faith in a loving and gracious God who is with me through every step. God is a fact, not a feeling. I praise and thank God continuously for His love, grace and people He has placed in my path to encourage me.