Every day my heart is broken and restored. Yesterday it was a woman whose father only the day before took his life. In the first eleven weeks of 2022 I have been notified of 17 suicides in my community. My heart breaks with each of those left behind that walk through the valley of loss and the shadow of death. In order to walk with them I too must walk toward the shadow for in that moment that is the direction they are headed. I cannot just callously tell them to turn around, face the light or worse yet "You'll get over this - You have two other children that need you - suicide is a coward's way" or worse yet, "Your loved one and friend is now in hell for what they did." I attended the funeral of a young man several years ago and heard the pastor say that last one. My heart broke that day for the family and for everyone who heard his words. It's not that I don't believe in hell, but it is not mine to decide who ends up there because I am not the supreme judge of the heart. I leave that one up to the Lord.
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." I can't help but believe that Paul was talking about more than just temporal and eternal realities. The fact is, in this life we are all prone to bouts of hopelessness. Many people seem to always be walking toward the shadow. It is not so easy to simply turn around and face the light. My ability at the end of the day to do so has only taken a lifetime to learn and even then, I am unable to do so in my own strength. I am weak but He is strong. Yes, it is true that it is only in walking toward the light that we put the shadows behind us, but it is only through the Lord's grace and love for me that I find the strength to do so.
Wounds can heal, but scars remain, and it is a process that will take time. Not that time heals, but in that process, we learn to trust that there is a loving God, and he offers hope. It is God that heals - not time. I may not see it in the moment as I face the shadow, but the light is there right behind me. It is also there before me though my focus is on the shadow. It is the light of God's love all around me that helps me to see the shadow for what it is - a momentary place on the timeline of eternity filled with pain and perhaps fear. But even there He is with me.
though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.
Yes, every day my heart is broken and restored. It's part of the calling. But for each of us the shadow is always there. Some days we are walking toward it and other days it is behind us. But it is always there. Perhaps the shadow remains as a reminder of the direction I should be going.
To stay current with future post join the 1R2L community. Log in today to set up your account.
If you are having thoughts of suicide at this moment, please reach out to a caring friend or counselor. Get the help to rediscover that life is the better option. You can also call the national crisis line at 1-800-2273-TALK (8255).
To learn more on how you can help those at risk order my book Listen Learn Lead. It is the primary curriculum I use in the Intervene Challenge and the 1 Reason 2 Live Conference.