I recall the weariness. The heaviness in my heart. A load so heavy to bear. An intense sadness consumed my soul.
One of our students ended his life by his own hand. Jacob* loved the Lord. He served on short-term mission projects, participated in student ministry events and was active in the life of the church. And, yet, suicide…
Reverberating through my being was the question:“Why was Jesus not enough?” Why was He not enough in Jacob’s life?? Why did death appear to be the only option?
The rawness of Jacob’s tragedy sent my mind wandering for hours, weeks, months and more. Our life is a journey. Choices abound. Am I able (and willing) to stay on a path that is God-honoring? Even when the road grows dark and filled with potholes and switchbacks? Even through desolate desert stretches or over-populated urban streets?
How do we stay in the journey?
Community. We are not meant to be on the journey alone. The Lord intended us to do life together. He also gave us the Holy Spirit. Guidance is a breath away. But what about when we feel alone? Lost … ?
Scripture. His word is truth. His word is life. His word is the map for the journey. Pick a verse, any verse, and you’re on your way. The Lord goes before us and He helps us to be on the narrow road rather than the broad one. “I am the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6). But what about when we can’t reach for the Bible? When reading is too much … ?
Hope. With hope, things are do-able. When our hope is in the Lord, we see the present difficulties (and the future) differently. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11 of the tremendous persecution and insult that befell him despite following God’s will for his life. Nevertheless, his hope and strength remained in the Lord.
We humans need tangible, measurable results. We like arms wrapped around us, magazine-cover good looks, stellar grades, super-intelligent brains, and the best batting average. Even though these things will fade away, they can become more attractive than the abundant love of the Savior.
We wander off the path when our eyes focus on them.
Is Jesus enough?
Yes. He alone offers life eternal. His Spirit offers comfort. Healing. Peace. Hope.
But, no, too. Over the past decade since Jacob’s death and the pain of losing others who have chosen his same path, I have found no easy response to this question.
This life has it’s struggles and pressures and miseries. Community, scripture and hope are merely letters on a page to the broken-hearted.
Our community, however, can help discover and recover us when we have need…if we let them. Medical and professional help exist. Friends and family can be present.
May we who viscerally know these truths reach out to help others persevere.
Hope follows perseverance (Romans 5.3-5).
May the Lord grant us the strength and wisdom to walk arm-in-arm with our long-suffering friends who find “hope” an elusive four-letter word.