Just Hold Me

“Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

1 Thessalonians 4:17-18

Countless times I have heard the following statement this week, “there are no words that can express what we all feel” and it’s true. In moments like this we need what Natlie Grant sang so beautifully in the song ‘Held’, “This is what it means to be held, How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life, And you survive, This is what it is to be loved, And to know that the promise was, When everything fell we'd be held.” I didn’t know Jarrid Wilson, the popular Southern California pastor who took his own life this week after years of battling depression and mental health issues but my heart breaks for Him and for his wife and children along with his church family who cared for and loved him dearly. Ironically, September is suicide awareness month and what the devil has meant for evil I sit here today in awe of how God uses even the tragedies of this life for a greater good. As Jarrid himself both believed and taught, “Hope Gets The Last Word.”

I’ve read with interest the last few days with the hope of better understanding for myself the issues surrounding depression, mental illness and the struggles that seem to only be increasing as we see the Day of Christ’s return approaching. The stakes have never been higher than they are today as the attacks of the enemy are becoming more desperate as our adversary is fully aware of the imminent return of Christ, yet not knowing the hour.

What would make someone take their own life who believed in the abiding presence of God and the peace and comfort that the Bible promises that are ours who are in Christ Jesus like Jarrid did? Pain has a way of clouding our senses, blinding the best of us, yes, even pastors to the truth of God. Depression is a darkness most of us experience at one time or another throughout our lives. Few, and I stress very few go unscathed through life. It’s the degrees of darkness that varies from person to person and none of us can plum its depths without suffering some lasting effect. We are after all, broken people, living in a broken world among other broken people.

Pastor Chuck Smith use to teach us often to never trade what we do know for that which we do not know and today is a great reminder for me to not try to think too much about the questions I will never know the answer to this side of heaven. What I do know about suicide is this. It is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Suicide is self murder and not the unpardonable sin. When a person takes their own life it is their physical body that they kill, not their immortal soul. When a person dies they do not cease to exist, but their existence radically changes as they put off mortality and put on immortality.

The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth that for those who are in Christ, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). This truth is not of lesser importance as its knowledge brought Paul enormous comfort throughout his ministry (Philippians 1:18–26). After all, the apostle was not a Pollyanna idealist, but was intimately acquainted with long-term suffering (2 Corinthians 11:24–28; 12:7–10). And maybe this is the most important aspect of what he understood about this life and the life to come. The reality of glory did not push Paul to take his own life, but energized him to give his life away in pursuit of the gospel, becoming himself a more clear reflection of Christ.

Just this past week our Student Pastor was sharing with us at his Connect Group how we tend to flee pain and discomfort and especially anything that involves suffering all the while calling ourselves followers of Christ. We forget all too often that God uses pain more than pleasure to shape us and mold us into the image of Jesus. Because of the heretical, “health and wealth and prosperity” teaching of our day, many associate suffering in any form as sin, a judgment of God upon our lives for disobedience to His commands. Pain and suffering tend to either draw us closer to God and more dependent upon Him, or causes us to push God away, ultimately taking matters into our own hands, which the end result is never good. Pushing away from God even when we know better might just give us a glimpse to the extent a person will go for even temporal relief of seemingly unbearable pain. Only God knows the extent of the pain any of us feel and how much we can take.

Charles Spurgeon urged patient carefulness in assessing our own life’s situation when we are overcome by depression and thoughts of worthlessness. He knew by his own experiences how quick we are to assume, when we suffer a set back and feel depressed, that God’s grace, though infinite has somehow left us, and that our lives have become pointless. Spurgeon encouraged his own flock in such times, instead of seeking a definitive answer to the “what” and the “why” of our situation, we should instead make a willful decision to hold fast to the promises of God. Once again, never trade what you do know for what you don’t know.

We must never forget that we have at all times an objective truth that does not depend on our ability to feel truth, as the promises of God are like a light that cannot be overcome by our darkness. God is greater and His promises are immovable and an infinite comfort beyond the reach of our finite trouble and doubt. Knowing this to be true, Susannah Spurgeon had Matthew 5:11–12 framed for she and Charles to see every day in their bedroom: “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (KJV).

God knows we need to be reminded not just daily but as the need arises through out each day that He is forever faithful. Our enemy is always on the prowl. Jesus promised us when He returned to the Father He would ask the Father to send another Helper, the Holy Spirit, to be with us and in us so that we would not be left as orphans in this word. Jesus said, ”But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me” (John 15:26).

Hope gets the last word because no matter what befalls us in this life we have a testimony to share, a story to tell of God’s goodness and faithfulness, His forgiveness and His love manifest in Jesus Christ. Hope has the last word because where sin abounds grace does all the more! God’s story is a never ending story and because our lives are hidden in Christ, hope will have the last word!

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”

Romans 12:15  


Michael Osthimer





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