Hope Under Siege: The Church Responds

The horror of what happened spread eerily across the tight knit college campus. Phone calls, text messages, and social media. Some were shocked others were devastated. These students and staff have been taught the scripture and they know life is but a vapor, but what does it mean when the vapor is snuffed out on purpose? How does one go from being the most charismatic person on campus to the one who will be remembered for taking their own life. Suicide is on the rise. It targets and takes life in every stage, race, or religion.

This situation is a real one that my daughter is attempting to overcome right now. She knew this victim and was around his pose on almost a daily basis. It is hard to wrap one’s head around the fact that a person that you would consider to be a fixture in your college experience is ripped out by the very hands that had welcomed so many into their community.

Several people have commented, “Life goes on.” True. But when a Category 4 or 5 hurricane rips through a community, we can at least see the devastation. When it is the menacing spirit of Grief it is not so easy to spot the catastrophic injury that must be overcome. To make matters worse, we all grieve differently and at our own rate. There is no one set pattern. Anger, Denial, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance must call come. Alone. Combined. Repetitive. These five things are all part of the grieving process that will not be denied. They can not be rushed. Occasionally, when you think that you have one conquered, it will rear its ugly head again. No one knows how long it will take. It is a process.

A person who returns to their home after a natural weather catastrophe has to have time to process the obvious. The scene is often extremely familiar: Individuals and families standing amid the twixt and torn belongings and home crying, “No.” Tears steaming down their forlorn faces as they try to process what has happened. It is at these times that the Red Cross will jump into action as well as neighboring communities. People need the necessities. They need warmth, shelter, food. However, in a situation where suicide is the beast that has ripped through lives those things are not as easy to see.

There is no Red Cross wagon that will pull in to aid in this process. There are no shelters of protection. This is full on wounded, bleeding, raw emotion and we as God’s church must help tend to the wounded. I have watched my sweet daughter trying to get her sea legs again after this shipwreck and I am aware of her struggles. I have prayed for her and questioned God and asked for wisdom.

I must admit that at first I was a tad ambivalent. I was one that even said to her, “Just lean on God, honey, He will see you through.” That is a true and honest statement. However, I am becoming aware that as Christians we have a tenancy to have our canned responses for the situation. Possibly we mean well, but maybe-just maybe we say it because we deep down do not want to be bothered. It is just too inconvenient. Doesn’t quite fit into the schedule.

Death is a part of life, but suicide is not part of the life expectancy. Someone needs refuge from this storm and we are not prepared as Christians to speak peace? What is wrong with us? Why are we of all people at a loss for words? Words that come from the precious Spirit of God and can help to bind and eventually heal these wounds.

God gave His best when He sent Jesus Christ and when Christ returned to the Father the Comforter, God’s precious Holy Spirit was sent to us. We have the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth. We have God’s Holy Word which is truth. God has promised peace. Through the resurrection of his dear son, Jesus we have a hope that is alive. It is real. It is not the story of the tooth fairy or Santa Claus that has a hope that will one day disappear. Our hope is eternal. Jesus said in John 16:33, In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Tribulation takes many forms. Life can in what seems like a blink of an eye become void of happiness and full of anxiety. The scriptures never specify the afflictions that Christ will see one through. This is because He can help defeat it ALL. We as believer’s in Christ should be the one’s that understand better than any other people on the planet that God is the ONLY answer.

My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word. Psalms 119: 28. Verse 50 of that same chapter reads: This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me. Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word. (Psalms 119:114) (Verse 116) Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope. Do you see a pattern emerging here? The Word of God is what will bring each of us through in times of distress and trouble. However, let me make it clear, we are not talking here about a mundane reading of words on a page. We should not even imply that a ritual reading of the scripture is anywhere close to what hurting people want or need.

What is necessary here is heart knowledge and NOT head knowledge. Reading the words and merely memorizing the scripture will not chase the Grimm Reaper away. Heart Knowledge is the only thing that will breath life into a stagnant, impersonal cold situation. The love of God alive and active in our lives as children of God. This is the hope. Walking in it. Not just going through the motions.

Wouldn’t it be an atrocity to hide the Truth from a lost and dying generation? Jesus said that we were freely received and we should freely give. We must comfort those who are grieving using the Word of God but NOT by beating them over the head with it.

In Exodus we read the Story of the War of God’s people against the Amalekites. As long as Moses kept his rod above his head the Israelites had the victory, but when he lowered the staff they began to lose. Moses became so exhausted from holing up his arms that he needed help from Aaron and another man to see that they won the war. Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.(1 Peter 5:7) Now there is a familiar verse of scripture. Casting here refers to a throwing away. Like slinging out a fishing net. It is a violent act of chucking something away with all your might. Now Scripture in action would be, realizing that in grief one must repeat this particular motion again and again. Kind of sounds hard on the arms, doesn’t it? So here is where the true believer’s come in. We spiritually hold up their arms so they can continually and painstakingly throw those emotions and thoughts until God is in complete control of their situation.

It is passed time that Christians concern themselves with the right things. An honest life full of the truth. Not a truth, but The Truth. And it is time we stand in the gap for the hurting. Bind up their wounds. Meet them at the point of their pain. Pray. Listen. Hug. Share. Temper it all with love and patience. What would, Jesus do?

The enemy has declared war on hope. It seems too distant. Too unattainable. Yet God has already defeated Satan. We just have to remind him of that. Every single moment, with every single person we touch that is in need. God has called us to such a time as this, and these are volatile moments. We have to be real. We have be honest, After all, we are to be Christ’s hand extended.

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