Everyone has a story – a moment, or a series of moments, which define their present situation. Their situation influences their life, and their life resonates their heart. We are surrounded by people everyday, and during my days in general practice, I have really appreciated what is in each person’s story. People are resilient. That we can withstand stress, hurts, disappointments and still have hope and see a future, is astounding. I have heard people speak out of great depression, and describe death after death, sickness after sickness, tragedy after tragedy. Yet, somehow, I still see them smile, and I still see them reach towards tomorrow. I am glad for their hope, yet grieved for the hidden burdens that some people only rarely confess. They need to be strong for others, they need to keep going, and so the dirt piles on and on onto their hurt until it becomes a tall mountain before them and they are forced to stop. Then, for a moment, life comes crashing down. For some, this is a trip to the hospital, for others, it is years of despair, and for a disturbing number, it is death.
I hate the loneliness and abandonedness that has driven countless people to end their own lives. For all the psychologists, mental health care plans, and crisis numbers available, the Australian statistics still tell us an average of 7.8 deaths from suicide in the country every day. 7-8 lives are willfully relinquished each day because the pain of living is thought to be too much. We are surrounded by pain, surrounded by weapons ready to take aim at dreams, confidence, families, and friendships. Yet, at the same time, we are surrounded with hope. The more I listen to my patients share their stories, the more I realise that hope cannot be forgotten. People still love, people still dream, people still identify things to live for. Yet, at the time of distress, it just seems the darkness is greater than these things. Perhaps that is why the stats for suicide survivors also show us that a majority of those contemplating suicide change their mind at the moment of action.
What can we do in the time of trouble, and how can we walk alongside those who are hurting?
For myself, I know my brokenness. I am reminded time and time again as my spirit struggles with my flesh, and I cry out to God. I want to serve Him, I want to love others as He does, I want to build the kingdom He desires. At the same time, I get discouraged, I get disciplined, and I have my doubts and fears. Despite this, I know I have an immovable hope in Christ Jesus. I can stand on all the promises of His word and know that He loves me, that His love will never fail.
“My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
– [Psalm 73:26]
Perhaps it is in order to remind me of His inseparable love, that God has let me see the sorrow in people’s lives. At times, it has left me speechless. How do you help, when it seems there is nothing you can do? How do you comfort, when the despair is so deep? I do what I can as a doctor, I support as much as I can, but then I pray. I have prayed so many times that my patients would be restored, that they would experience a healing in their bodies, and in their minds. Yet ultimately, as I pray, I realise that people need God. So many people distract themselves from loneliness with temporal things – sport, catch-ups, other hobbies. Yet as soon as they are left alone, the sense of an unfulfilled life creeps back in to remind them it remains unattended to. Nothing else can redeem life like the love of God. It is our ultimate comfort, and what can separate us from it?
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” – [Romans 8:35]
If there is a love that transcends all this, then there is a hope that remains through it all. And, if there is an everlasting hope, there is everlasting life, and there is a reason to live. When I worship my God, I am reminded of how He is above all trouble and despair. He gives me joy at all times, even when I go through seasons of trouble. All I need is to hear His voice and remember His love towards me. We may not understand why suffering might occur, we may still grieve, we may still struggle, but we can know hope in Christ. We can know He is faithful, and that His love never fails.
These are just some of the promises I have in God, and some of the reasons we can all embrace life with purpose.
God, You are my HOPE.
God, You are my CONFIDENCE.
God, You are my BLESSED ASSURANCE.
God, Your PERFECT LOVE casts out all fear!
He is our HOPE because despite our sin, Christ Jesus made a way for us to experience the eternal life and love of the Father God. Because of this, we not only have a beautiful future to look forward to, but we are given the means to live a full life on earth.
“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by race, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.” – [2 Thessalonians 2:16-17]
He is our CONFIDENCE because our success and our ability does not depend on us, but depends on God who cannot fail, and who always succeeds. All we need to do is surrender to Him, and He will equip us to live in His full life.
“Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” – [2 Corinthians 3:4]
He is our BLESSED ASSURANCE because we can be sure that he knows us, chooses us, and gives us His Holy Spirit as a guarantee of our salvation. Even if our heart condemns us, even when it makes us feel guilty or unworthy, God is greater than this, and He knows all things.
“Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who has also sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” – [2 Corinthians 1:21-22]
He is our PERFECT LOVE and in this, we can overcome any fear. When our focus is God’s love, there is no room for fear. Nothing else matters, because we know that He loves us, and our heart responds to Him.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love because He first loved us.” – [1 John 4:18-19]
If we do life with Jesus, we can overcome every mountain, traverse every valley and yet lift our heads up high to the God of our salvation, knowing that Christ has carried us, loved us, and given us everything we need to overcome. This is our confidence, this is our assurance, and this is our resilient hope!