"To defeat the darkness out there, you must defeat the darkness within yourself."- The Oppressor- The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of The DawnTreader
On yesterday, the 11th of August, 2014, Robin Williams apparently took his own life. He will never have a chance to make another movie. He will never have a chance to hear the Gospel again or walk on the beach or eat his favorite foods. Anything that he ever did on earth, he will never do again on earth. Why? Because his time here is gone. His life, as we know it, has expired. Or had it?
I first saw Robin Williams on Mork & Mindy; it seems not so long ago. The premiere show was a hit and I stayed tuned until the last show which also broke my heart (okay I'm a crier en it comes to sad shows). The realization that I would never tune in to watch "nanu nanu", hit hard even for a military brat who was used to saying goodbye by that time. So to see the news of his death crushed me. But to know that it might have been because of suicide cuts even closer.
You see I have had bouts with depression. Even more recent than the last two weeks. I know the closed in feeling that you cannot escape. I know the strangling of air that grabs you all of a sudden and demands you pay attention to defeat, the feeling that brings depression back in when you've conquered it. And although I may not know the personal things, I know what goes on in the minds of those depression has an unwanted relationship with, the darkness that plummets you into an even further black hole until you feel the only way out is through death. I've even tampered with that non changing reality as well.
Depression is a weapon the enemy seems to be winning more and more with. Even among those of us who know the Truth and the hope we have in Jesus. It seems that this is an even bigger truth, that it is even bigger than God when you are in the midst of this darkness. It seems that nothing or no one can pull you out. But that's where we are wrong. That's where I wish someone could tell each person who suffers with depression, each person that contemplates suicide well before they are able to test its guarantee of a way out of the darkness. As cliché as it sounds, Jesus is the ONLY way out. His words in red are loud and clear in the midst of being questioned by one who doubted him. "I AM the Way, the Truth and the Light" (John 14:6). That alone is a proverbial life saver in this very black sea called depression!
I wish that I was a journaler so that I could go back in my journals and explain, even write some of the thoughts that I said, that I cried out during that very dark time when I told my kids I would be back and drove to my mom's house, parked in her driveway and contemplated the best way to bring this to a final end. I wish I could tell you what I texted my kids other than that I loved them and that I was a failure to them and that they would be better off. What I can tell you is what my daughters text me back (my son was in a dark place himself and so did not respond). They told me that they loved me and exactly what God needed them to say.... He threw them as a rope and I grabbed for it. But it doesn't always end that way. Sometimes, like in the case of Robin Williams and the tens of thousands that suffer and succumb to this conquerable disease, it is more than life threatening. Sometimes it's permanent. For anyone reading this, I just want you to know that it doesn't have to be. You aren't better off and neither is your family. No matter how hard and cold and dark and lonely it gets, there is always hope if you reach out for Him. Alone, and even with medicine, it cannot be defeated. But in Him there is hope, and love and grace, and mercy. There is acceptance when you call out His name. No tricks, no hidden agendas, no lifelong toiling. Just. Call. His. Name.
Someone was sailing, actually heading back in as the waters were getting rougher and rougher. The sun was at the cusp of setting and the winds were getting crisp and picking up. Out the corner of his eye, he thought he saw two people in the abusive waters, fighting to stay above the waves. As he turned towards them, hoping his eyes were playing tricks, he confirmed that it was true and immediately went into action. Having only one other life jacket and a small life saver, he yelled out to them to hang on and stop moving as much as possible. To try as hard as they could to remain calm. He saw that they were trying to oblige his commands and the flailing about almost ceased. He was able to reach them and put the life jacket around one and was about to throw the life saver to the other when a monstrous wave threatened to stop him from saving both. The one who was to receive the saver began flailing and screaming again as the boater pulled the first in. His cries fell on deaf ears as the second person bobbed up and down in the waters, even well after the wave proved to be not so threatening. The boater finally jumped in with the saver and almost supernaturally reached the second person. He put the saver around the person and told him that he was going to be okay, just to keep his arms around the saver and he would pull him back to the boat. He turned and began swimming, thankful that the second swimmer had stopped panicking and was easier to pull. What he didn't know was that the man had already given up. Even with the lifesaver around him securely, only having to keep his arms around it, not even embracing, he had already sunk into a dark false truth that he was never going to get out. He had already said his goodbyes in his heart and was ready for death. By the time the boater got to the boat, and turned to pull him in, he noticed that the reason his load had been so light was that the second swimmer had never even put his arms around the lifesaver. He had never grasped onto the truth that he was saved.
This isn't a true story or even something I got out of a book. I just made it up. But how powerful a truth for even us who are in Christ. Even we can get entrapped by the lies of depression. Ours can be a little more dangerous as we will not seek help for fear of the stigma of being a weak Christian and the judgment that comes with it. That alone stifles out voice, not the enemy, but our agreement with him to never speak out transparently about things that make us seem weak. Guess what? We ARE weak! Paul said, ".... for when I am weak then I am strong." (2 Cor 12:10) How else can we reach the masses, how else can we go out into His fields with the harvest being ready, how else can make disciples of all nations unless we first "defeat the darkness within"? How many of our brothers and sister, leaders have to die before we say enough and stand in our conquering of death?
God, oh how I thank You for saving me. Not only through Your precious Son's sacrifice on the Cross for my sins but also each day that I walk into a dark place or become angry or am in need. You are indeed faithful, even when I am not, strongest when I am at my weakest. God, I pray for those who have been in that same dark narrow alley called depression. Your Word says, "even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..." I pray that You would remind Your children, who can then remind or let those who don't know You know that they do not have to fear any evil. That You would remind us daily that even though we will have trials and heartbreak and disappointments and sicknesses and loss that You are with us. Your rod and Your staff that guide us. God remind us that You are our hope. My prayer is that suicide will begin to starve and eventually die away because no one will feed it's ever greedy fascination and hunger to have one more.... Pour out Your love... the love that saves and covers a multitude of sin. In Jesus name. Amen!
I want to leave with this Scripture, my daughter's life verse: "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!" (John 16:33)
DISCLAIMER: If you are dealing with depression right now, God's Word is a great Source of help! I know it; it's what has kept me each time depression and suicide come back for more. Know that if there is depression, suicide is not far behind. And if you are not a believer or just can't seem to pray, know that I am praying for you and Jesus is interceding always on your behalf. Get help! If you are contemplating suicide and are in danger of following through, call 911! If you are depressed or have suicidal thoughts not yet manifested, call the following:
1-800-273-TALK (8255) or TTY 1-800-799-4TTY (4889) (for suicide)
Biblical help for youth in crisis 1-800-HIT-HOME
Rapha National Network 1-800-383-HOPE
Prayer and General Counseling www.prayerandhope.org, 1-866-599-2264
There is no pressure to know Jesus. They just want to give you the help that you need. Hold. On.