Few days to Christmas, a depressed young man sent me a suicide note. On his bedside lay the poisonous Snipper bottle he bought to quicken his passage to the other side. His frightful messages triggered my panic attack. Several calls I made to his phone were ignored. He later replied that his decision was cast in iron and nothing would make him change his mind. Enough of life’s misery, he concluded.
Indeed, it was a grim battle between life and death. I turned to God in prayers. I was worried that such a promising young man could embrace death as an escape from his prolonged sufferings. I appealed to him through text messages and voice notes not to die. I reached out to people to call him but he ignored their phone calls.
In one of my voice notes I sent him, I recounted my peculiar afflictions and the constant struggle to hang on a thread of hope. For over 20 years, I had endured a particular thorn in my flesh which prayer never healed. I have prayed, fasted and believed but relief never came. Rather than take away this cross, I received the yoke to pray for the ‘grace of uncomplaining meekness’. I have borne that yoke of prayer ever since.
Through the help of the Holy Spirit, the young man was saved from the throes of death but the footprints of such an impending tragedy remained visible on my mind. As he finally undergoes counseling and remedial session, I became even more worried about other young men and women tinkering with thoughts of suicide for the world that has fed them scorpions instead of fish. Several depressed people that walk the streets mask their sufferings in smiles, as they set their doomsday clock. Most of these people laugh with us, but they bear the baggage of suffering in silence and wait for devil’s time to cut the tape of life.
For many Nigerians suffering the pangs of poverty, inhumanity, sickness and deprivation, death becomes a better option. Flip through the passages of the Holy Book and you will read about men of high reckoning with God, who wished to die to escape the sorrows of their time. Whether sinners or saints, rich or poor, young and elderly, when the waters of life turn red, death presents itself as a sweet relief from the distress of life.
Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah saying, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not take your life”. The Bible recorded that Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. After wandering for a whole day in the desert, coated in dust and famished by thirst, he sank in despair and prayed to die. Resting under a broom tree, he said his last wish, “I have had enough, Lord. Take my life, I am no better than my ancestors” (1Kings 19:4). It looks absurd that the prayer-fire Elijah that destroyed 450 prophets of Baal could succumb to fear while running away from a woman. Talk of mortal weakness; we are all guilty.
Job was righteous and blameless before God, yet he was crushed by suffering and he cursed the day he was born. “Why did I not die at birth…Why is light given to him who is in misery, and life to the bitter of soul, who long for death but it does not come, and search for it more than hidden treasures; who rejoice exceedingly and are glad when they can find the grave?” (Job 3:11, 20-22).
Before Job’s afflictions climaxed, the Bible described him in glowing terms. Having found favour from above, why should Job be cast into the lurch of pain? In the thick of his crisis, even his wife took a condescending look on him and mocked him to curse God and die. His wife saw him as a walking dead who should embrace instant death than remain a pitiable burden to humanity. Lesson: When fate nails you on the cross, your friends and family will mock and deride you in your face. So, better prepare your mind for the worst.
What of Jonah, who was miraculously delivered from a ravenous whale? He became displeased at a certain point and prayed, “Therefore, now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live (See Jonah 4:1-3). The option of death once again became more attractive to Jonah.
The point here is that despite your level of spirituality, you, too, could get entangled in a web of suicide thoughts. Can riches take such thoughts away? No. Most rich men die poor. Turn the pages of history.
Decked in opulence, King Solomon in his royalty and splendour took a disdainful look at life and its misery, “Therefore, I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me…Therefore I turned my heart and despaired of all the labour in which I had toiled under the sun (Ecc 2:17, 20). No matter how you toss the coin, life often displays its blurred and discolored side. Even the most shiny stars fall from the sky. There are always those dark times when we are crushed down, and left at the mercy of torrents of torments threatening our soul.
Have you had enough like Elijah? Many times in my life, I felt the same way. Enough is enough, I would say. As humans, we pitch our tent in a world of endless crisis where betrayal is common. Our best friend could become our greatest enemy, and those that ate on the same table with us would betray us into the hands of brutal enemies. Surrounded by the storms of life, we cave in to fear and lose sight of hope. No matter the prayers we say, the light of faith seems to have waned as we walk the troubled path. Our heart at some point finds refuge in fear. From the mountaintop of faith we slide uncontrollably to the valley of hopelessness. These are common tests of faith.
Has the devil touched your life? Or have you had enough of deadly assaults against you? Perhaps, the enemy has stolen your most prized possession: your finance, business, marriage, career, education or family. It could be your health that has left you with danger signs. Maybe, the doctor has given you a red card, as cancer ravages your body. Have you lost your job and left you worried about the future. When you get to a dead end, don’t let your faith sink.
My brethren, let’s share this bread of faith. As we count days to the end of this year, I bring you whispers of hope.
The Bible assures us of God’s unfailing help at the critical moments of our life. Indeed, evidence abounds of God manifesting his infinite power at the eleventh hour. I call it the miracle of the eleventh hour. When we have gotten to the tipping point, Christ stretches forth a saving hand. That was exactly what happened to Elijah. Having prayed for death, God answered his cry of distress by sending an angel that brought him bread. At the moment of our hopelessness, heaven dispatches an angel of consolation.
One might ask while this helpful angel takes so long in coming? I always tell people that when the night gets darker, that is a sign that the dawn is near. Darker night gives way to brighter day. Knocked down by sickness during my first year in tertiary institution, I thought I would die at 22. Here I am today, climbing gradually the ladder of 50.
When people count their material success at an early stage of their lives, I knew my path was different. I have never been on the fast lane, but I always see God push me through the finishing line to my desired destination. I say it with every certainty that whatever God has destined for you must come to fulfillment.
But you need to discover God’s plan for you and walk in his ways. Our ways are different, but the common denominator binding us as God’s children is that God will bring to perfection his plans for each of us. If you believe, your zero point might as well be your starting point. No matter the sorrow you experience, God will turn your ashes to beauty. Turn over a new page.
When people snub me for preaching God in my writings, honestly I do so because it worked for me. From a rural village in Enugu State, providence dusted me up to bring you this message of hope. I crave no place among the rich, but I find great satisfaction in sharing these slices of hope.
I speak to you the same message I shared with that young man that contemplated suicide. Don’t die when you have a better tomorrow. Take to heart the promises of God and depression will flee from you. When you crash to zero point, as many of us do, you are certainly not alone. Look up to the mountain from where our help shall come. Never look downwards lest you sink deeper in the mire.
Sorrow may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning. The days of sorrow are almost over. The night would soon give way to dawn. After the rain comes the sun. After the Raggae comes the Blues. See you on the sunny side.