But suicidal thoughts? Crippling self-loathing? Deep depression?
Many Christians misunderstand these as tell-tale signs that someone is not truly engaged with their faith, trusting God, committed to prayer or understanding God’s great love for them. The sad reality is that our closed-door, judgmental reaction to those in a similar state as my 21-year-old self makes everything worse. Depression leaves us feeling isolated and hopeless, and when our own brothers and sisters in Christ alienate us or downplay what we’re going through, it only serves to accentuate the reach of darkness in our souls. Equally deserting is when those struggling feel unable to voice their desperation out of fear of being judged; leaving them even more susceptible to despair and to the danger of not having a sounding board.
God knew what he was doing when he urged us to confess our sins to one another. In secret is where Satan does his most devastating work. If people know, people can pray, advocate and intercede, all of which are antidotes to the devil’s sinister plans.
The Church Must Talk About Depression, Hopelessness, and Suicide
September 1 marks the beginning of Suicide Prevention Month. What would happen if the Church were to use this opportunity to talk about depression, hopelessness, and suicide from the pulpit? I suspect that hurting individuals might realize they are not the only ones suffering, they are loved and not judged and can get the help they need to press on instead of turning to a gun to end it all as I almost did.
God has called us to shed light on that which is dark instead of burying the darkness under our discomfort, misconceptions and lack of authenticity.
Jay Lowder is a full-time evangelist and founder of Jay Lowder Harvest Ministries. Follow him at @jaylowder on Twitter and Facebook.