I have learned to kiss the waves that throw me up against the Rock of Ages. – C. H. Spurgeon
It’s only been hours since Jarrid Wilson pastor, and author of Love Is Oxygen: How God Can Give You Life and Change Your World, and Jesus Swagger died by suicide. As a personal favourite of mine, the news hit me hard. For the past two hours, I’ve been at a loss for word, tearing up, confused, shocked, and unable to properly process how someone like Jarrid – with a beautiful wife and two amazing kids, a successful author and megachurch pastor could, in a single moment give it all away. My heart aches for him, his friends and his family. I can bearly begin to fathom the hurt, trauma and anguish in the days, weeks, months and even years that are ahead for those closest to him. However, this hasn’t been the only case recently where a pastor has chosen to end their life rather than continue on. Suicide, depression and mental health problems are bombarding the Church in what seems like higher numbers than ever before. Personally, as someone who identifies strongly with this, I can’t help but say “this is not the kind of Christianity that I signed up for.” So many questions are rolling around in my head. Why is this happening to us? What is depression, and why is it so crippling? How do we fight this? Where’s God in all of this? I really don’t know.
This is not the Christianity I signed up for. Sure, I didn’t expect it to be all rainbows and butterflies, but the Christian life is meant to be full of joy and love and goodness, right? We were all told that God has a great and wonderful plan for our lives, that He wants to bless and prosper us. Where’s the light and easy yoke? Where’s the comfort, and the peace that surpasses all understanding? These are all legitimate promises and verses in the Bible, yet, in reality, it often feels like we rarely ever experience it. The fallen world gets the better of us. Sin crouches at the door, and it feels like we rarely rule over it. Depression smashes us and leaves us without hope, and we end up feeling like the Psalter who says:
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival.
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me? (Psalm 42:2-5a)
Notice though the glimmer of hope, how he longs to gladly shout praises amid his sorrow. How hard it is to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I get that … I really do. God, dear beloved friend, gets it even more. Jesus, the man of sorrows shares in your pain, your anguish and your tears and He took them to the Cross. He longs to take hold of you and never let go. He loves you more then I could ever express in mere words. I know it’s impossible for you to see, but He offers new life.
Depression is dark and uncertain, but God called forth light and defeated darkness on the Cross so that we might live and live it abundantly.
I don’t have answers. God does. Take up your swords fellow depressed and beaten down brothers and sisters, slay that which seeks to destroy your soul, take hold of the One who wants to bear your burden and for God sakes join arms with others. Please, we want to help you even if all we can do is hug you tight and pray. The fight sucks, but it is worth it…
Finally, here is my challenge:
- Christians make yourself available and make that publically known to everyone around you. Don’t let someone slip through the cracks because you were too lazy to love someone.
- Pastors stop preaching trash. Get it into your thick skull, the message of the Bible isn’t sunshine and lollipops. It’s light overcoming darkness, and that’s yet to come to completion until our King returns. Preach the Cross. Preach freedom. Preach life. Just don’t forget to preach it out of the reality we live in, not the one we try to create for ourselves.
- If you’re struggling hardcore with this and you know me. Contact me, please. Let’s walk, talk and drink coffee together. I’ll listen, pray and give you a hug. You’re worth it and much much more.