Church must talk about depression, suicide

There seem to always be topics that are "taboo" to talk about in the church. Depression and suicide are two of those topics that the church avoids in hopes that these too shall pass. Well, the truth is that these topics will not pass.

Depression and suicide are very serious problems in our state and in our county.

In the first eight months of this year there were 21 known suicide attempts and three people actually have taken their lives. My heart goes out to each of the families that have been impacted through this tragic loss of life. I pray for all 24 families as you look at putting the pieces of life back together when life doesn't make sense.

I must say that living in Craig for three years has been a challenge to my thinking on this topic. Many people are struggling with depression and are in a state of hopelessness and despair. What do we do as a church? How do we respond as a community to these needs? Not responding is not an option as far as I am concerned.

First, we must talk about it and not bury our heads in the sand and hope it will go away. It won't. The loss of a life to suicide is a tragedy, and this something that we never should get used to. We need to fight for life and live in community to help one another.

Second, we must realize that depression is a physical, emotional and spiritual issue. We must look at a person's life in balance and understand how we can meet their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

Saying a prayer, having a friend or taking a pill will not in and of themselves solve the problem.

Third, churches need to step up and address the spiritual needs of our community. God is a God of the impossible. When life doesn't make sense, it is God's desire that we turn to him. We do need to cry out to God in prayer for our families, our churches and our community. If you are depressed, talk to someone about it. Go to your pastor or talk with a trusted friend. Not everyone who is depressed will be suicidal, but it doesn't hurt to get the help and feedback from a trained professional to know how depressed you really are.

John 11:35 says, "Jesus wept." This is the shortest but possibly most powerful verse in the New Testament. Why would Jesus weep? He weeps over the loss of life. Lazarus was sick and had just died, and his friends and family were devastated. They were asking themselves why Jesus didn't come sooner. If he had come sooner maybe they could have avoided this tragedy.

If you have lost a loved one to suicide I believe Jesus wept with you. I would encourage you to read John 11:11-44. It is also in this passage of scripture that we have a verse of encouragement to all of those who had gone through this time of loss. Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" John 11:25-26 (NIV) Jesus is our hope when we need it most! I pray that we are wise enough to understand our need for Jesus, and I pray we are humble enough to accept Him personally.

Thank you Governor Owens for declaring this week suicide prevention week.

Thank you to the S.A.F.E. committee for all they have done and all they have yet to do. Please pray for our community and be involved where God calls you. In His Service. {Pastor Brian K. Haynes is the Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Craig.)

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