“I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 ESV
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another just as I have loved you… By this, all people will know that you are my disciples.” John 13:34 ESV
From the time he was 12 years old, a man I knew battled depression. He often talked about committing suicide. He had been saved in a Baptist church as a child. He believed in Jesus all of his life. He did not commit suicide, but he died in his early fifties. In spite of his faith, and many visits to doctors and lots of medication, from 12 years old, he was depressed every day.
In spite of his depression, he was a gifted and giving man. He blessed me and strengthened my faith many times over the years. Even though he could not come to love himself, he lavished love on many people around him.
Depression can affect anyone. You might be surprised to know how many people around you have contemplated committing suicide. Even a close friend may feel suicidal and not reveal those feelings to you. Depression can come about because of a desperate situation. It can also be a chronic, medical condition unrelated to circumstances.
Jesus calls us to help those in need. That call includes being a help to people who are depressed or suicidal. Some basic understanding of suicide and depression can help us be better helpers when our friends or family are facing these demons.
As Christians, we can pray that God will give us discernment and wisdom. We can also pray that God will help the troubled person to whom we are ministering. We can provide help by being a sympathetic listener and by sharing scriptural encouragement. If the person seems deeply depressed or suicidal, we should encourage them to talk to a compassionate pastor or to contact a suicide prevention line.
Threats of suicide should not be taken lightly. Taking compassionate action can prevent a tragedy. You can learn more about how to help and where to turn if you are depressed by visiting www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org or calling 1.800.273.8255.
I am convinced that one of the secrets to the abundant life that Jesus talks about is for all of God’s children to help each other. Often we have built a culture that values self-reliance so much that we cannot ask for help. But Jesus commands us to love each other. That is the sign by which the world will know that we belong to Him.
Love in Christ,
Pastor, Rocky River Baptist Church