Growing up, I had lots of cousins with whom to play.
One, in particular, I always feared – I will call him Ronald. I remember random forest fires in the community that this cousin would “discover” and then alert some adults to the wildfire. There was talk among the grown-ups that Cousin Ronald was the fire starter; however, that was never proven.
Ronald was quite the problem child with mental health difficulties. When about sixteen years old, he began hinting at suicide. Ronald would set up elaborate “stages” wherein he would pretend to jump off a bridge into deep waters, fashion a hangman noose or pose with a handgun at his temple. But, always, he was sure to be found out before any act of self-destruction was carried out. Soon, folks said Ronald was crying wolf, seeking attention, and did not take him seriously.
Rather than explicitly speaking about mental health problems, the Bible focuses on a person’s emotions, mind, soul, and heart. It is not always easy, that act of loving the unlovely. Remember Jesus’ words as recorded by the Apostle John 13:34 NIV. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”
Consider Elijah’s struggle after Queen Jezebel threatened his life. “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it, and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’ “ 1 Kings 19:3-4 NIV. Read chapter 19 for a complete understanding of Elijah’s trials. Fear, anxiety, and physical and emotional fatigue rendered Elijah suicidal. That can happen to any one of us.
How do we overcome this? Perhaps medical help, but most importantly, pray to God about our feelings. God has placed professional counselors, therapists, and doctors in their positions, so reach out to them if needed. Share your feelings with a trusted and authentic Christian fellow who may be able to counsel you.
Some years ago, I was part of a church filled with petty bickering, jealousy, and division. Sadly, the preacher was the leader of the negativity. It was hard to see that we were Jesus’ followers by our love for one another. Almost everyone got caught up in the darkness. But suppose we practice the love that Jesus exemplified. In that case, we will devote energy to others’ welfare rather than our own, absorb hurts from others without complaining or fighting back, and by helping others when it is not convenient.
2 Timothy 1:7 says this: “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” Paul gives us three attributes of how to lead like a faithful Christian: power, love, and self-discipline. We will exhibit these characteristics if the Holy Spirit lives within us. We should concern ourselves only with the fruits of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23 NIV.
In the 40s and 50s, the heat source for our church was a pot-bellied wood-burning stove. The deacons took turns going to the church early to get the fire burning to heat the building before worship service. But, back to Ronald. It was Ronald’s dad’s (my uncle) turn on this particular Sunday – nothing was out of place. However, a parked car near the tree line just onto an old logging road when all arrived for church service was out of the ordinary. It was quickly recognized as belonging to Ronald.
My dad and his brother walked over to Ronald’s car out of curiosity. The car’s engine was running. They found that Ronald had committed suicide by gassing himself in his car. Someone commented, “Well, he was successful this time.” I thought he was not successful at all but failed in his timing for the first time – Ronald, born in 1940, died at his own hands in January of 1961. He was twenty-one years old.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 KJV. We were ignorant of the throes of mental health needs back in the day – there is still such a stigma attached to it today.
Although everyone’s needs may not be met in this lifetime, when the individual goes to Heaven, there will be no more anxiety, pain, depression, or emotional torture as the believer will be with God forever.
Be a Christian Believer.
A retired nurse and published author, Pat Throckmorton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org