By Lisa Copen
Heaven. The pain will subside. The joy will abound. We will know the presence of God’s glory unlike we can even imagine. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
Even the apostle Paul said, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). He too was eager to see an end to his suffering here on earth and spend eternity with God.
The topic that I am confronting here, however, is not the blessed event of entering His gates at His moment of appointment, but the word that Christian leaders are hesitant to confront–suicide.
More frequently than I would like I hear from a people who are seriously questioning why God would want them to remain here on earth one more day. And for each person that contacts me, I wonder how many others are suffering silently.
[pullquote]What good could possibly come of constant pain?[/pullquote]
How can God expect us to continue to endure a future that seems to hold nothing but disappointments, sorrow, and physical pain?
We search for an answer. . .
Why is God allowing this to happen and why shouldn’t those with chronic illness just end it all and experience heaven a bit early?
I have found that most people don’t really want to end their lives. They just want to stop. . . the. . . pain. . .
They are beginning to feel like they are losing their mind over the amount of pain. They begin to believe that their loved ones would be better off without them. They know their death would cause emotional pain to their loved ones, but eventually they would heal.
Can we truly believe that God is still in control?
Mark Littleton, author of The Storm Within shares:
“What is real faith in God but continuing to believe in the face of everything in life gone wrong? What is true belief and trust in Christ, but trusting Him and believing His Word even when nothing has worked out? It is easy to believe in Him when things are going well, but under such circumstances it is hard to see if the faith is real.”
I can easily give logical thought-provoking, “spiritual” explanations such as the above, but answers that address the aches of the heart are more difficult. It is the eternal question of mankind: If God is so good, why does He allow me to hurt so bad? Why do bad things happen to good people?
From nearly the beginning of time, Job confronted the emotional turmoils of tragedies and physical pain, despite being a righteous man in the eyes of God.
But let’s address one small portion of this topic. Whether you have seriously considered suicide or have entertained the idea of how to end your pain, I have two points that I wish to share with you.
1. Do not lose hope.
2. Consider the possibility that your presence here on earth is necessary for God’s work to be done in the lives of others
So lets dive in.
. Do not lose hope.
Do not be tempted by that which Satan is throwing in your face as an easy answer to end your pain. Satan knows first hand that physical pain is one of the greatest afflictions in which to persuade you to turn away from God, and from what God desires in your life.
Take Job, for instance: Satan took Job’s children, his assets, his animals, everything–and the honorable Job responded by worshipping God. So what did Satan do next, that he knew would be the last straw for Job? “Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head,” (Job 2:7).
Job was so depressed his first response was to take a piece of (unclean) broken pottery and scrape himself with it as he sat among the ashes. (v. 8). Job’s sounding pretty depressed at this point, isn’t he? One could even say that he is feeling a bit apathetic about whether he lives or dies, since he is scraping himself with pottery that could likely causing an infection.
If one of the most righteous men in God’s eyes is tempted to want to die because of physical pain, acknowledge that your feelings also need validated! Although God grieves your emotional pain, it exists. You are not “less of a Christian” or a hypocrite if you have feelings of hopelessness. You are human. . . and humans were designed by God to need God.
You are simply being tempted, as was Jesus.
“While we may feel separated from [God], it is just that: a feeling. A persistent perception of desolation does not mean he has deserted us. But it can feel that way, and intensely so,” (Littleton, The Storm Within, p. 26).
Jesus spent forty days in the desert where He was led by the Spirit, into the desert to be tempted by the devil. [Matthew 4:1; Luke 4:2 emphasizes that he was tempted all forty days.]
What!? God led Him into the desert in order to be tempted by Satan? Yes. But note that during this entire time “angels attended Him” (Mark 1:13).
Just as with Job and Jesus, although you may be tempted, God has provided the power to overcome the temptation; “No temptation [will] seize you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 1:13).
Lisa Copen is the author of ‘Why Can’t I Make People Understand: Discovering the Validation Those With Chronic Illness Seek and Why and the founder of Rest Ministries. She has lived with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia since 1993.