Tag Archives: hopeless

75: Suicidal (Trigger Warning)

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When Ahithophel realized that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey, went to his hometown, set his affairs in order, and hanged himself. He died there and was buried in the family tomb.” 2 Samuel 17:23 NLT

I hate my life and don’t want to go on living. Oh, leave me alone for my few remaining days.” Job 7:16 NLT

There are few actual suicides mentioned in the Bible, Judas Iscariot’s probably being the most well-known, and even that differing between gospel accounts. But there are a lot of times where people talk about wanting to die, as Job does here after his description of his horrible suffering that we looked at part of yesterday.

There is a huge difference of course between feeling like you want to die and actually wanting to kill yourself. The first is a very common experience, for we all have times where we just don’t see the point of carrying on, or we think everyone (including ourselves) would have been better off if we’d never been born. The former comes largely out of great suffering and an acknowledging of pity for oneself. The second is what happens when we not only lose our hope entirely, but also cross over a threshold of emotional and mental distress that makes life unbearable and death the only way we can see of ending the pain.

Because this is such a hugely difficult subject I shall devote tomorrow to it as well, I think with more on my personal experience. Having been in both places thankfully without carrying it through, and having been brought back again from the edge by love and hope, I can perhaps say one or two helpful things. Of course many times it is tragedy or loss that brings us to this point, but I think that the main things that drives us to a place of actually wanting to take our own lives are a complete absence of hope and a sense of failure and shame.

In a lot of societies, it has been considered a less shameful act to “fall on your sword” when you are dishonoured, than to continue, and this seems to be the case with Ahithophel above. But there is nothing honourable about taking any life. I feel that if we came together as a society that did not engender so much shame, that talked openly about failures and how they can teach us, and if we taught that hope can be reborn from the most forlorn looking embers, then suicides would decrease. We often hear the quote about treating both success and failure the same as the imposters they are, but this is not the message that is constantly whirling about us in the media and the ethos of capitalism and the supposed meritocracies of the west.

And yet, there are very few stories of great success that did not first pass through great failures. Many great entrepreneurs had to climb out of poverty and bankruptcy, often more than once, as we already discussed. Likewise, faith needs to pass first through the dark night of the soul (again often more than once) before it becomes great. Perhaps if we embraced the understanding that failures, wounds and heartbreaks cannot only be overcome in time (even if they never completely heal), but can also teach us a great deal along the way, we might become a healthier, happier society, and be less devastated and ashamed when terrible things happen or perceived failures come.

And if we were treated with more compassion, understanding and above all, patience, when at our lowest ebbs, there would be more chance of love and hope finding a way through to redeem our shattered lives when we feel they are no longer worth living. Our own dear saviour, after all, thought his wounds worth retaining in his resurrected body.

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Pixabay

If you are feeling suicidal or just finding it all too much, please do ring the Samaritans in the UK on their free to call number: 116 123   They are fantastic listeners and there for you if you are having a tough time. You can also email or write, check out their website here http://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help-you/contact-us

71: Beleaguered

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He has besieged me and surrounded me

   with bitterness and hardship.

He has made me dwell in darkness

   like those long dead. 

He has walled me in so that I cannot escape;

   he has weighed me down with chains.” Lamentations 3: 5-7 NIV

 

Never one to mince his words, Jeremiah accuses God of the very harshest treatment. If we have been through dreadful times, or ever felt surrounded and overwhelmed by problems and difficulties, then we can surely identify with how the prophet expresses his frustration.

Ever since we married, my husband and I have felt besieged by ill health, redundancy and troubles. It takes all our limited strength to keep going and to hold onto our deep and consoling faith. We certainly feel that we are walled in, weighed down and under siege. But somehow, the occasional supplies are being brought in, our creative work sustains our spirits and our tiny garden and bonkers cat remind us that there are things even in all this to lift us and speak to us of the goodness of God.

And we feel the stress, and the strain to attempt to see light in the darkness. And we are exhausted and sometimes hopeless. But we hold onto the Lord and his promises, as Jeremiah too, will do once he has got his misery off his chest, and we will hope that even in the dank airless tomb that these verses describe, we might soon hear that clear and loving voice, calling, “Come out!” and be loosed into new life. Perhaps we may even look over our shoulders at these tough years in wonder as they lie in pieces like a shattered cocoon, suspecting that the transformation we have undergone might not have been possible without them.

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Pixabay

33: Hopeless

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Yes, the day of the LORD will be dark and hopeless, without a ray of joy or hope.” Amos 5:20 NLT

Sounds pretty dire, doesn’t it? And not like the God of love we know – but like any verse grabbed out of context, this description of the day of the Lord is misleading on its own. At this point the Lord is speaking through his prophet Amos, trying (as always) to get the people of Israel to turn back to him and be true, genuine and faithful. They might talk about wanting the Lord to come and be with them, but because of their insincerity and disloyalty this would be hopeless, because he would have to judge them, and so that circumstance is described before our verse above: “In that day you will be like a man who runs from a lion—

only to meet a bear. Escaping from the bear, he leans his hand against a wall in his house—

and he’s bitten by a snake.” Amos 5:19

These would be happenings that Alanis Morissette might have sung about in her song Ironic, where she gleefully (and perhaps ironically) confuses misfortune with irony. Here the Israelites too are in a muddle, but about who God is and what he and they want. They say they want him around, but try to placate him with false praise. The Lord is desperate to save them and give them the hope that they are running from. As well as the refrain “come back to me and live!” in this chapter, the last verse describes what God wants from his people instead of worship and sacrifices that are only for show (partnering the perhaps better known Isaiah 58) “Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living”. Amos 5: 24 NLT

I find it physically hard to type the word “hopeless.” I didn’t used to. I was sure I was hopeless and so it flowed easily, off the fingers and off the tongue. Since I started praying regularly, every time I try to type the word, it comes out as hopeful, unless I am really concentrating. I find this encouraging, because I am not naturally a hopeful person, and hope (!) that it is revealing something of the unquenchable optimism of the Holy Spirit that dwells within me.

But if that is my inner truth, it doesn’t always feel like that. Life is hard and relentlessly so, at least for my family it seems, and holding onto hope in the day to day grind is often too hard an ask. And yet, somehow it remains, like a hidden mystery, deep down, a seed in the dark that refuses to die. It doesn’t float, that’s for sure, and it is not a light, airy ethereal thing, hope. At least not to me. Hope is a heavy thing, an anchor that holds fast in the deep mud underneath everything. It is strong and it is immoveable, unlike my own sometimes feeble faith. Hope keeps me going because it underpins all things. It is the hand I can reach out for in the dark of night and the flame that burns right at the centre of a bright furnace. It can be relied upon, along with love, to hold fast and never give up.

Being hopeless looks a lot less like the weariness and despair that we feel when times are hard than we think. Instead It is clear that we are only really without hope when we go our own way and choose wickedness and falsity over the genuine relationship offered by the Lord of all Hopefulness.

 

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Morguefile

173: Ravine

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To fall or not to fall, that is the question. Who will catch me but death, unless I float, feathered flowing, toing and froing, on streams of holy spirit air breathed to save me? Can I continue to stand here on the very edge of things, the sharpness of the earth’s deep wound cutting into my feet, calling me downwards into the abyss? Where is God in the presence of these dark jaws? Can I call to him here, even as I steel myself to jump? Does he answer the broken bleeding messes standing here at the top of all things?

Certainty rushes in with the solidity of wind and the sureness of cloven hooves. My God is at the top, at the bottom, and all the way down. Breathing the blessed assurance of this, I step back from the edge, and learn once more to look around me.

© Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2016

Photo from morguefile.com