I received word recently that a high school friend had committed suicide. It saddens me to know that his life seemed so hopeless. Apparently he’s not the only one who has suffered recently to the point of despair. Evidently, suicide rates are on the rise. According to an article written in April 2016 by Sabrina Tavernisein which was published in the New York Times, “Suicide in the United States has surged to the highest levels in nearly 30 years…” In the same article, Professor Julie Phillips, of Rutgers pointed out that many are ,”turning to self-destructive means of dealing with their despair”.
We live in an age where anything is possible. The world has never been smaller, nor the things we want easier to obtain. With a touch of a button we can check the status of our bank account, pay bills, buy movie tickets, and chat with friends. In a few hours we can travel across the country and in a bit more time we can be around the globe. With the slide of a card nearly anything we desire can be ours. Yet with all this affluence and convenience, many are overwhelmed to the point of despair.
In her book, Praying the names of Jesus, Ann Spangler summed up our current delima, “It’s so easy to stuff ourselves with the world’s cheap bread—with money, success, comfort, and pleasure—that we take the edge off our spiritual hunger. We fail to realize the dangers of living in an affluent, consumer-driven society in which we can be consumed by the things we desire. So many of us are like sponges, soaking up the world’s good things with no space left for God.”
We have seen it happen countless times, infact some of us are even part of the demographic. Most people will not turn to God unless there is no other option. Even at wits end, we will try to satisfy ourselves with all other possible solutions. We will try almost anything rather than stoop to the humiliation of accepting Jesus. But God does not intend for despair and suffering to end in premature death. Instead, suffering should lead us to the only one who can help us find hope through our difficulty. Suffering should lead us to Jesus.
Hardship and suffering produce a unique climate where people who otherwise are uninterested in God, suddenly see Him as a viable solution to their trouble. In difficult times the barriers between us and Jesus can be broken down so that we can draw near Him. Through suffering our eyes and hearts can be opened toward Jesus. The Bible says that “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
God does not want our lives to end in despair. In all times, especially during suffering He waits patiently, longing for us to turn to him…desiring that we would choose Him over worthless options. Suffering can provide a unique opportunity for people to realize their need for God. In the midst of despair, we can reach out to God, who, desiring that we know Him, is patiently waiting for us.