For about three years I lived through some of the darkest times of my entire life. I struggled with severe depression and anxiety, and I seriously contemplated taking my own life. It was not just a thought that crossed my mind once or twice but something I agonized over and planned in detail.
You may be in a similar place of desperation right now. You feel hopeless and trapped. There's too much pain to deal with all around you and inside you, and you just want to escape it all. I've been there. And thankfully, after seeking help from professionals and those I loved, I decided not to commit suicide.
The main thing that stopped me from killing myself was the realization that it would be the most selfish, cowardly act I could commit. Ending my life would've ended my ability to be a father to my daughter and a husband to my wife. I never wanted my daughter to grow up without a father, nor did I want my wife to live without her husband. I didn't want to be the cause of such intense pain for either of them.
And it wasn't that I didn't know Jesus. It was because, in the midst of losing all hope and joy, my attention was off Jesus and on myself and the circumstances I was facing.
If you're struggling under the weight of this today, if you feel like anxiety, fear and worry are closing in on your life and you want to end it all, I desperately need you to understand these things about yourself:
You are not the only one who is experiencing this battle.
You are not a bad or weak person because you're going through this.
You are not a lesser human being because you're struggling while others seem to have it all together.
God does not want you to end your life, because He made you on purpose, for a purpose and with a purpose (Jeremiah 29:11). He promises every one of us a future that is beyond what we can ask or imagine right now (Ephesians 3:20). That is an amazing promise!
Jesus is greater than your impossible situation.
Jesus is greater than your pain and hopelessness.
Jesus is greater than death.
When I was in the middle of my struggle, I had to remember that God didn't deliver Jesus from death but through death. Jesus emerged from an empty tomb and beat death! God will deliver us through our circumstances because He loves us. No matter what we're going through, nothing can keep us down or hold us back from God's love (Romans 8:35-39).
If you are considering taking your life, ask for help! Share your struggles with someone you love and trust. At NewSpring there are people praying for you, and individuals who are available to pray with you and for you in the care room every Sunday and even during the week. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness; it's sign of strength and authenticity. Talk to a professional!
For many people, depression and anxiety are triggered by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Doctors and trained mental health professionals can treat some mental illnesses with the right therapeutic intervention. Talk to your doctor to understand your options. I can honestly say anti-anxiety medication and professional counseling have both helped my brain, and I thank God for it!
For those of you who know and love someone who has taken their life and you believe them to be a Christian, let me say this: Some people have asked me before, "If a Christian commits suicide, do they go to hell?" and my answer is a resounding no!
If a person goes to heaven, it's because they know and trust Jesus as their Savior, not because of how religious or put-together they seem. In the same way, if a person goes to hell, it's because they do not know or trust Jesus.
If you know Christ, going to heaven does not depend on what you have or haven't done. No one can out-sin the grace of God!
The Bible tells us Jesus died once and for all to bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18). All the sins you've ever committed and all the sins you will commit do not keep you out of heaven if you believe Jesus has paid for them all on the cross (Mark 3:28)!
Even through the darkest time of our lives, Jesus never stops pursuing us. There was always a light of hope. If Jesus defeated sin and came back to life, He can give us victory through anything we face!
I got the chance to write my whole story of how God brought me through my battle with depression in my book Overwhelmed. My prayer is that my own story might help restore hope to people who are struggling with stress, anxiety, or worry, and maybe some people who are feeling depressed. As you've read above, this was the darkest time in my entire life, but I am so thankful for the lessons the Lord taught me during that time.
If you're reading this, your story is not over. Jesus wants us to have a life full of joy, hope and peace. Just remember that if ain't good, God ain't done. He works all things (even the things that seem hard right now) together for our good.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.