May 7 2019

When it All Seems Too Much

Pastor Dave Koppel

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

How desperate do you have to be to put out a hit on yourself?

In late 2017, Natalie Bollinger allegedly placed an ad on Craigslist “Women Seeking Men” section reading “I want to put a hit on myself.” Police later found her body in a wooded area on December 29 that year. https://www.thedailybeast.com/accused-killer-teen-posted-a-craiglist-ad-asking-to-be-murdered

I cannot imagine what she must have been going through to place an ad like that. I cannot imagine what it was like for her, or for her parents, or for her boyfriend, or her friends. What kind of pain and grief she must have been feeling?

I mention this because whether we are aware of it or not, there are people all around us who feel like they are at the end of their rope. Some do a masterful job of hiding it. Others not so much.

Sometimes someone will say something harsh to us, sometimes a person will seem self-absorbed, sometimes we will think they are rude or self-centered. The truth is that we have no idea the amount of pain that they may be going through.

The sad truth is that sometime in our lifetime, chances are that we will lose a friend to suicide. Over the years, I have lost several. one was a teen, one was in her twenties, two were in their thirties, one was nearly 70. It cuts across all age groups; it cuts across genders.

Of my five friends that took their own lives, I only had a clue about one of them.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death in America for those in the following age groups: 10-14, 15-24, 25-34, second only to unintentional injury. After that, it drops to the fourth leading cause of death for the next couple of categories. Over a 16-year period, the suicide rate has increased 31% in the US, and the rate for males is about four times as high as for females. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/suicide.shtml

A couple of thoughts: First, if you are having thoughts of taking your own life, TELL SOMEONE!  Sometimes when we keep thoughts to ourselves, they can stew and get worse; they can snowball. It’s important to talk with friends, parents, teachers, pastors…just find someone. Often things seem monumentally horrific until we can get some distance and perspective, and often the only way to do that is through talking with someone. There are people all around you who care.

If you can’t get to one of them right away, here are some great resources:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to anyone. All calls are confidential.

Here are some links to use when it starts to feel like the end of the world, or if you have a friend or loved one who is struggling:

Second, one thing that I know is that most of our problems can be handled by doing two things:  working as if it all depends on you, and praying like it all depends on God. Another way to put is this; use all the resources available to you, like the family and friends around you and the websites and helpline listed above, and also bring it to God.

The one thing that I know binds anxiety is prayer. Not to sound like Pollyanna (you have to be a certain age to get that reference) or Ned Flanders (you have to be a different age to get that one), and pretend that nothing is wrong and that positive thinking will solve everything—but to know that God cares about you, enough to die on a cross for you, and to know that He cares about every aspect of your life, and He loves you more than you can imagine. Jesus loves you so much that if you were the only person on earth, He would still give His life to save you.

He cares about everything that happens to you—everything. And there is nothing so big in your life that it will stop him from loving you. Nothing.

And like the old hymn goes, “What a friend we have in Jesus…what a privilege to carry everything to the Lord in prayer.” (Google the lyrics, they may sound a little old fashioned, but they make an accurate and true point.)  God wants to hear from us, and just as He rejoices when we rejoice, He also weeps when we weep. We can ask Him to carry our burdens, we can trust him with our secrets, and we can know that He will never, ever stop loving us.

He understands. He’s been denied, betrayed, left out to suffer by his so-called friends, been mocked, been vilified, treated as irrelevant, and more. He gets it. He gets you and loves you. Even when it feels like nobody else understands, God does.

And even if you feel that there is no one you can trust, you can trust Him. His love, his trust, his acceptance, have no limits.

And He created you, precious, unique, wonderful and like no other. He cherishes you.

We do too.

In His grip,

Pastor