Max Lucado, Christian Author

The suicides of CNN’s Anthony Bourdain and fashion designer Kate Spade illustrate an all-too-common tragedy— the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reported this week that nearly 45,000 people committed suicide in the U.S. in 2016 alone, and said the suicide rate in the U.S. rose by nearly 30 percent from 1999 to 2016.

While the CDC report isn’t surprising, it is sobering. If a disease saw such a spike like we’ve seen with suicides, we would deem it an epidemic. How do we explain the increase? We’ve never been more educated. We have tools of technology our parents could not have dreamed of. We are saturated with entertainment and recreation. Yet more people than ever are orchestrating their own departure. How could this be? And what can we do?

Suicide victims battled life’s rawest contests.  They often faced a mental illness or illnesses and felt the peril of mental fatigue.  What you and I take for granted, they coveted. Optimism. Hope. Confidence that all would be well, that she would be well.  Their clouds had no silver linings, their storms had no rainbows.

If that describes the way you feel, can I urge you to consider one of the great promises of the Bible? The promise begins with this phrase. “Weeping may last through the night” (Psalm 30:5).

Of course, you knew that much. You didn’t need to read the verse to know its truth. Weeping can last through the night. Weeping may last through the night, and the next night and the next.

This is not new news to you.

But this may be: “Joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5). Despair will not rule the day. Sorrow will not last forever. The clouds may eclipse the sun, but they cannot eliminate it. Night might prolong the dawn, but it cannot defeat it. Morning comes. Not as quickly as we want. Not as dramatically as we desire. But morning comes, and, with it, comes joy. Joy comes!

Joy comes because God comes.

Mary Cushman learned this truth. The financial Depression of the 1930s all but devastated her family. Her husband’s paycheck shrank to eighteen dollars a week. Since he was given to illness, there were many weeks he didn’t earn even that much.

She began to take in laundry and ironing. She dressed her five kids with Salvation Army clothing. At one point the local grocer, to whom they owed fifty dollars, accused her eleven-year-old son of stealing.  That was all she could take. She said:

I couldn’t see any hope …I shut off my washing machine, took my little five-year-old girl into the bedroom and plugged up the windows and cracks with paper and rags. I turned on the gas heater we had in the bedroom- and didn’t light it. As I lay down on the bed with my daughter beside me, she said, “Mommy, this is funny, we just got up a little while ago.” But I said, “Never mind, we’ll take a little nap.” Then I closed my eyes, listening to the gas escape from the heater. I shall never forget the smell of that gas…

Suddenly, I heard music. I listened. I had forgotten to turn off the radio in the kitchen. But it didn’t matter now. But the music kept on and presently I heard someone singing an old hymn.

What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer
Oh, what peace we often forfeit
Oh what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer

As I listened to the hymn, I realized I had made a terrible and tragic mistake. …I had tried to fight all my terrible battles alone. I jumped up, turned off the gas, opened the door and raised my windows.

She went on to explain how she spent the rest of the day giving thanks to God for the blessings she had forgotten: five healthy children. She promised that she would never be ungrateful. They eventually lost their home, but she never lost her hope. They weathered the Depression. Those five children grew up, married, and had children of their own.

As I look back on that terrible day when I turned on the gas, I thank God over and over that I woke up in time. What joys I would have missed. How many wonderful years I would have forfeited forever… Whenever I hear now of someone who wants to end his life I feel like crying out, “Don’t do it! Don’t”. The blackest moments we live through can only last a little time–and then comes the future.[1]

And you? You’ll be tempted to give up. Please don’t. Open your Bible. Talk to God. Listen for his song. Share about your hurt with someone. Seek help. Place yourself in a position to be found by hope. Weeping comes. But so does joy. Darkness comes, but so does the morning. Sadness comes, but so does hope. Sorrow may have the night, but it cannot have our life.

©Max Lucado, June, 2018

[1]Dale Carnegie, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living (New York, NY: Pocket Books, 1984) 196-198.

This post has also been published at FoxNews.com

 

42 comments on “The Struggle of Suicide

  1. Suicide is not so simple. Most people suffer from mental illness and are in so much pain for so long that their brains literally can not clearly see an alternative, unlike the situational depression in this story. As a health care provider and a Christian, please don’t heap shame on people who are already struggling with this issue because they can’t find the answer in “Jesus alone” when they are that sick with an illness that is just as severe as any physical illness.

    1. Dear M,

      I think you are misunderstanding the article and the idea that Dale Carnegie (and Max Lucado) was trying to convey. For me, the takeaway from this article is: Don’t loose hope! Get help! Don’t try to go it alone. Don’t isolate yourself. Trust God, trust people (your healthcare team, friends, family). As someone who struggles with depression, this is what I need to remember.

    2. Dear M,

      I think you are misunderstanding the article and the idea that Dale Carnegie (and Max Lucado) was trying to convey. For me, the takeaway from this article is: Don’t loose hope! Get help! Don’t try to go it alone. Don’t isolate yourself. Trust God, trust people (your healthcare team, friends, family). As someone who struggles with depression, this is what I need to remember.

    3. I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed sometimes, so maybe it’s just me. But I certainly didn’t get a sense of shame nor the ‘Jesus alone’ mindset being doled out, or even hinted at, here by Max Lucado.

      What I did see were reminders to share how you’re feeling with another person, and most importantly, to seek help. Which, as a health care provider and a Christian, I would assume you do as well.

      As someone who struggles with anxiety and depression, I am learning to do all of what Max Lucado has stated in this post. It’s not easy, but I’m trying.

    4. Max Lucado is one of the kindest and the most gentle human beings and would never “heap shame” on anyone. He spoke a message of hope that I’m sure God laid on his heart. Do not “heap shame” on him for being obedient to God and sharing this. Someone needed to read this today. I needed to read this today. My heart broke at the suicide statistic Max quoted and God led me into a time of prayer for our nation. But I’ve been going through difficulties myself that make it nearly impossible to believe that “joy comes in the morning.” God led me through a time of prayer for myself asking that I might once again “go along with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God, with the voice of joy and thanksgiving…” (Psalm 42:4). God used that prayer to prepare my heart to accept the rest of the message Max shared. It no longer seemed unthinkable or not applicable to me and, at least for the moment, I feel hope again. I will come back and read this again and again to remind myself of what God said and did through this post. So do not discount what the Lord can do through one willing vessel and the work of the Holy Spirit.

    5. I am unsure how as a health care provider and a Christian you can say this to a post that offers hope and life. It is quite understood that depression is an illness and a struggle, but if faith and hope can shed a ray of light into just one person’s darkness, there is value in these words. Perhaps all of you, health care providers, can stop judging what others are doing to help and encourage by providing the answers to those of us that are doing something other than judging and providing negativity with ill comments. Please enlighten us. What can we do to help? We obviously cannot encourage, guide through faith, provide positive stories, offer love, offer empathy, – please, by all means. I am listening.

    6. Thank you for your comments and for clarifying situational depression with clinical depression which is the most severe form of depression when all one can focus upon is relief from the pain and anxiety — Christian or not. While those of us who live with this illness have strong faith, it seems impossible to hear the Lord’s voice or to see a way out other than suicide when in this state of mind. Medical intervention is the only thing that can bring relief.

      1. Hi, I believe medical relief is part of God’s plan for those of us that suffer, it enables us to enjoy and see God and others so much more clearly…just like spectacles help us see better. Life gets tough and when we can’t, God can. The hardest part is letting go. Thank you Max Lucado for your God inspired words.

  2. I love this and have been sharing it. Thanks so much. So beautifully presenters and so true!

  3. The thought to take your own life, the voice that whispers what seems the only answer, seems so reasonable. You just cannot imagine how rational the thoughts become. Even for a believer. Something happens and you find yourself so far off the path, and the solution seems so clear, so restful, so peaceful. It’s the lonliest journey.

  4. Whatever would we all do without God. He is the only One who can bring us through the worst of situations, simply by trusting in Him and knowing that He has and is the answer!

  5. My sister look her life in November 2017. On one hand she was very rational and thinking clearly as she left a note, instructions to her husband about passwords and financial accounts. On the other hand she wanted out. It blindsided all of us as she often spoke of the future; where they would retire, what places they would travel, where her son would go after college and they would follow him. Seemingly talked of so much to look forward to. But the truth about depression, is that it lurks around and waits for just the right moment of weakness. When it can strike. Depression can overtake someone in a matter of seconds. That’s what is horribly terrifying. Someone can try everyday to keep it at bay and then suddenly, in a weak moment depression wins. Extremely sad and very scary.

    1. I’m so very sorry for your loss. I pray for you and your family as you move forward and find your own healing now. May you feel God’s presence each and every day to give you peace through this time. God bless you all.

  6. For most people with depression , mornings are the hardest thing to face. It just means another day has begun and they have to struggle to get through it, yet again.

  7. I have gone through this terrible depression so many times and last time even considered suicide. I called out to God but got no help. lived on Ativan. I am a follower of Jesus and fully trust Him but this seems to be the one thing He doesn’t want to help me with. I have no reason for the Depression except it seems to run in my Mom’s side of the family. I am always afraid of getting an attack.
    i haven”t had an attack for quite a while now and know that Jesus is now helping me and giving me His wonderful peace which passes all understanding. But I sure do understand those sad people that are going through this. Because during the time of these attacks a person is screaming inside for relief but there doesn’t seem to be any so they feel the only way is suicide.

  8. Unlike any other disease mental illness seems to be the one disease that most people won’t seek out help for, and when they do if medication is required they don’t want to take it, it’s a sad and tragic illness that not only affects the one suffering but also their family as well.
    God can be the answer but you still have to seem Him out and want to be helped. We need to pray for that person that’s suffering that God will intervene and guide them to healing.

  9. I believe the reason suicide is so much more common today is because our easy life styles of more and to be entertained leaves many of us with a huge void that cannot ever be filled, that void needs the only thing that could possibly fill it , our relationship with God who created us and his purpose for us , not our own. I know this appears cold but self leaves us very lonely , and then the enemy tells us no one cares , not even God, and like the last time , his lie brings us death.

  10. The M-there was no shame in Lucado’s story. The focus is on gratitude and hope.

  11. Thank you for printing this story. So many people are hurting thinking there isn’t hope for what they are going through. I pray as believers we be not judgemental and be compassionate to their families. I too had a sister in Christ who went through the suicide of her husband and one of my friend also committed suicide the effects on the families are heartbreaking.

  12. I love this post. For someone NOT suffering a mental illness and having gone through and going through difficult trials, it reminds me that He is my hope and goes before me and with me.

    However, for those who suffer from mental illness, not just situational depression, it is imperative that they receive medical care. The stigma that accompanies this illness keeps many from getting the help they need.

    I pray God will open our hearts and as Christ followers we will reach out with help as we love like He does.

  13. There is NO HOPE.
    God blesses people who aren’t believers all the time and forgets about people who try to go to church and get closer to Him.
    God abandons people ALL THE TIME otherwise he would have blessed me to have my basic needs met instead of being a perpetual failure at 45 (NO I am NOT an addict. Never have been)

  14. The depths of depression are real and intense. There may be brief moments of joy but the snake of darkness is slithering within your mind and the darkness returns reminding you of your lack of self worth, of despair, pushing you towards the deep canyons of your mind where there is no way to climb out and you are utterly and terrifying alone. It leaves your loved ones spinning towards that darkness, questioning WHY and I DONT UNDERSTAND! The struggle is very real. I lost my mother, brother and sister to suicide and I pray greatly we have stopped that curse in our family. We seek Gods protection, we pray unceasingly for peace and understanding, and the wisdom of our health care professional. We take baby steps toward our wholeness and wellness and make great strides towards Our Lord’s constant provision and protection. It’s not so easy or clear for those who are struggling. Pray for your loved ones who are struggling. ASK—ASK if they are suicidal, help them SEEK help, share KNOWLEDGE and resources. More importantly, love on them, let them they are not alone and you are there for them, God is with them and there is help with this unseen disease. God bless you all. ❤️

  15. I’m happy for Mary and her family. I’m amazed at how God got through to her in that moment.
    However…
    My son took his life at 21. almost two years after giving himself to the Lord.
    He suffered from depression and psychosis. I agree with “M”s comment above. The word simple has no place in this discussion.
    He went to church, but like many churches, he heard much more about do’s and don’ts of Christianity than grace and hope.
    He was in a place where we were very encouraged with his progress. He seemed to be doing so much better, then suddenly he was gone.
    “Karen” seems to understand this. There is so much more we need to understand in order to tackle this epidemic.

  16. This post really touched my heart. My mom struggled with mental illness and depression my entire life. When I was 18 years old she died from suicide. I have struggled my entire life with emotions wondering if I could have helped her more. I have wanted to understand why she chose suicide over life.
    Thank you for this post. Thank you for writing about a taboo subject that many are not brave enough to speak about aloud. I pray your post touches many people’s lives whether they are like me and know someone who died from suicide or they are struggling with mental illness and need help.

  17. Beautiful, and so needec for today!Having Jesus in your life is so comforting, everyday in study and prayer and praise for your blessings!

  18. I have been sick with one thing or another since I was 2. But at 35 I really went downhill. I had chronic sinusitis which led to exacerbation of asthma which led to hospital admissions, 2-3 times a year. Depression set in. My Dr said he thought going through all the illnesses, that I had lost my coping skills. I could not go anywhere there were strong odors or smells because it would trigger my symptoms. Not even church because of people’s perfume. No more vacations. I always encouraged my husband to go do things that we once enjoyed doing together. And to do things with our son. Over the years I’ve had 4 sinus surgeries (I am scheduled for another one)! 2014 – my husband of 32 years said he needed some time away to ” think about things” 2015 – Breast cancer. 2 weeks after bilateral mastectomy he decided he wanted a divorce. 2017- thyroid cancer. I accepted Christ in my heart when I was 11. But with all this stuff, my faith has wavered. I have been hospitalized for suicidal ideations. I grieve for the person I used to be. I so long for the joy in the morning and sometimes I realize it may not be on this earth. But sometimes that doesn’t help much when you are trying to live life and be happy on earth.

  19. My heart goes out I have a son with mental illness and all that his crises has been in and out of hospitals and the sad part of some of them there forgotten. Yes some families may not be able to handle it though if they would only Pray and Look upon the Lord there is always that Hope this is what has help me with my son and am very active with him and involved since he was diagnosed in 2005 it has not been easy and holding on to my Heavenly Father it been possible and Give Him The Glory and am very grateful Ty Jesus. Yes it’s difficult this I know there are times when I say why couldn’t I had seen it and as a single mom raising him and having to work a lot he took to drugs and due to drug abuse this what became of him drug induce I will continue to stand by him this My Heavenly Father because with out him I wouldn’t be able to Amen

  20. Sometimes people with brain diseases don’t even know who God is, my lifelong Christian grandmother with dementia for instance or some I’ve known with schizophrenia. Which is hard for me as a Christian because just when they need their relationship with God the most, it’s gone. God hasn’t gone from them I know for sure, but the comfort of knowing and communicating with Him is gone from the person and they know nothing of which you speak of above. It’s very painful.

  21. I’ve struggled with major depression for most of my life. I lost both of my parents to terminal cancer, lost friends, my job, it’s so difficult to relate to people who have big happy families.
    Pray for me I have lost myself.

  22. People don’t understand….. They don’t know how you feel. They can ask, but not even listen. So why bother. You can stand in a room full of people and scream out how you feel. They would look at you and go back to what they are doing. WHY…Because no one wants to feel what your feeling. So they don’t involved. They all just think think your crazy. I grew up in a large family. Did anyone notice I had died inside. Did they notice I didn’t even talk anymore. Or just escaped a world I could no longer live in. I grew numb…. and I stayed there most of my life. Then I got depressed. No one can understand depression, unless you been there.

  23. I am dealing with those thoughts right now. It kept me awake in the early hours just deciding whether to do it or not. Both my sons have cut me out of their lives. So I don’t get to see my 3 grandchildren. There were 4 but a year ago my 4yr old grandson was hit & killed by a runaway 4WD. Before that I have had 2 abusive marriages & after the first divorce, my husband took his own life. So you know what? I’m tired of hurting, I’m tired of going through the motions of daily living & pretending everything is fine. I love God but I just want the pain to end.

    1. Dont give up or give in Jesus Loves You He said He would Never Leave you or forsake you He Loves you unconditiinally. He can restore your family… things may not be ok now but they can get so much better. Jesus said to take His Yoke upon you … He will always walk beside you even if everybody else has turned away. I pray that His Wisdom and Love would Saturate your Mind and Heart the He will fill you with His Holy Spirit… when Fear, Dread spring their ugly head Speak the Word of God, Shout it out if you need to.. God Holds His Word even above His name… it will accomplish that to where it is sent… dont give up dont give in please. YOU ARE LOVED.. nothing will ever be perfect … but we can have peace in the middle of our hurts, trials hard times….

  24. We are certainly aware that issues of depression and other forms of mental illness are complex and unique to each individual who is suffering. Prayer, faithful encouragement, and spiritual counsel are needed. Medical treatment or drug therapy is often determined to be a critical element of the treatment plan.

    This post has touched many and we pray for each individual that has shared part of your painful journey. We encourage you, as well, to seek understanding friends, family, pastors, counselors, and physicians who will come alongside you in the struggle. Please don’t give up. God is fighting for you! — Lucado team

    – Psalm 121 –
    I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
    2 My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.
    3 He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
    4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.
    5 The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
    6 the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.
    7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
    8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

  25. as recently as a month i started researching on the best ways of suicide. i trying wanted to die and at times still do. My life fell apart and am left with nothing. No family, friends, job or money. I prayed all the time and didn’t feel The Lord. My dr sent me to a christian counselor since my shrink wasn’t helping. After an hour of me crying and thinking she doesn’t understand, i looked at her and said I can’t feel God. I need Him and i can’t feel or find Him. She looked at me and very softly said “when you are going thru the darkest hours of your life and you feel alone, remember that is when Jesus is carrying you”. the Footsteps Poem. Now i still light. not much but i know now that i can relax in The Lord’s arms when i fell like i can’t take another moment because He will carry me thru. Hope this helps someone because i know the pain and despair. it’s soul crushing. God Bless.

  26. I for one have been around a lot of suicide in my life. It Started With My Father killing himself in front of me whenever I was young. Then I’ve had several friends commit suicide for different reasons, some mental some emotional some just because they were just tired of life itself. A my heart truly does go out to all the families that are victims of suicide I just hope that you stay strong and please please please try not to let life get to you too badly. Because of a does life has a way of twisting your brain in every which way, believe me I know life is still doing it to me even though I try so so hard for it not to. But as I just said just don’t let life get to you too badly, and try to smile and laugh as much as you can.

  27. Over 10 years ago I started having flashbacks to a crime committed against me. I thought God wanted me to forgive, so I took the time to try to remember everything and forgive those who harmed me. This led to the realization that I had a big blank in my memory. The harder I tried to remember the blank time, the more I remembered other bad things from my life and the more depressed I became. It felt as though God did not care what happened to me, which didn’t reflect love. I imagined God sitting on His throne laughing at me because I wasn’t joyful about the horrible memories. Then anger set in with all that hurt. I regularly prayed an altered night-time prayer: Now I lay me down to sleep; I pray the LORD my soul to keep; Please let me die before I wake and take me through Your heaven’s gate. The mornings were hard because I didn’t wake up in heaven. I wanted the promise from Revelation of no more tears, pain or sorrow. Then I heard a radio talk show and this man was describing thoughts and feelings exactly like mine, which were eventually described as PTSD. I researched this as much as possible and tried to muddle through on my own. One thing I realized is the only difference between “victim” and “victor” are the last two letters. When I think of the “t” as the cross of Christ, it helps me to focus on the victory already won by Jesus. Eventually I confided in a trusted friend who twisted my words into lies in a blog. It took a few more years before I tried to trust again, which was a local pastor who connected me with a trustworthy Christian counselor who specialized in Post Traumatic Stress. I’ve learned that satan tries to distract me away by focusing on my feelings over the facts in Scripture, so the first thing I do is banish satan in the name of Jesus. Then I work through my stuck points with the truth from God’s Word. I remind myself that God the Father publicly proclaimed His love for Jesus at His baptism and transfiguration, yet allowed Jesus to live a very difficult life and be tortured and murdered. I also remind myself that the answer to Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane was “NO.” Jesus spoke the truth when He said that life would have troubles (John 16:33). Sometimes it seems like I fall back to the bottom of the pit instead of climbing out. My counselor has assured me this is normal and with persistence I will persevere. Some good advice was a reminder that the brain can only think of one thing at a time. I made cards with helpful Scriptures, so when I can’t seem to think good thoughts, I read them to get me back on track. I do understand the compelling desire to be in heaven as soon as possible and the great challenge to keep trying to live on earth. All lives do matter!

  28. I know depression all too well! Lost 3 family members and too many friends and aquaintances to it. As a solid Jesus follower, and on medication, I made an attempt myself. No one can imagine the point of despair you can get to, to believe you can’t go on, there is no more hope, and it is the only way out of your unbearable pain, unless you have been there! We have to remember that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood”, and that satan’s mission on earth is to “kill, steal and destroy”. Faith or medication are not always enough. We need ONE ANOTHER! Do not isolate! Find SOMEONE you can talk to, even if it’s a suicide hotline! Thankfully, I did not succeed. I woke up in ICU, intubated. Look up The Mitchell Hash Foundation for help. It was started by a mom who lost her son to suicide, and exists to help others find their way out of their own personal hell. There is no judgment or condemnation.

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