Shadow of the Valley

Last term I almost killed myself. Which I’ll admit is a rather abrupt and blunt way of putting it, but it’s not really a delicate matter. It’s raw, it’s painful, it’s bleeding, it’s unpleasant: an affront to our natural sensibilities. But it was. It almost happened.

It’s not a hopeless place, there is always hope. Nor did oblivion and death suddenly become more appealing.

I didn’t want to die.

I just wanted it all to stop.

Imagine jumping from the window of a burning building. The terror of falling will be just as great as if you were stood at the same window admiring the view. The fear of falling is a constant. But behind the motive to jump is the other terror – the flames. As the flames draw nearer and the heat starts to become unbearable, falling to death becomes the less terrible of two terrors. It’s not that you desire the fall – you’re just more scared of the flames. No one watching down below can understand the jump. Not really. It doesn’t seem rational. They still shout “Don’t!” and “Wait!” not understanding the terror behind you. You have to be trapped up there and have felt the flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.

It’s a terrifying place to find yourself – it’s cold and bleak and desperate. There isn’t a sense of giving up – there is no “killing yourself” really. You are simply defeated by the long, hard struggle to stay alive. If someone dies after a long illness, people often say, sometimes with a note of approval, “He fought so hard.” But with suicide, people are inclined to think that no fight was involved. That someone simply gave up. This is definitely not the case. There is still a fight, as there is every day, but in this situation the inner turmoil and conflict won over my rational self.

It’s like having someone else in your head, whispering in your ear that it’s okay, that it will be easier for everyone, for you. That it will be better. That it will be peaceful.

It lacks reason and sense; it goes beyond a ‘cause’. Yes, there may be a ‘trigger’ for the feelings of sadness, worthlessness and despair, but they continue long afterwards. The feelings build and build until it seems there is no space that can contain them except oblivion – the void that you come to desire.

 

But where does that leave God? It seems as though there is no place for Him in such a dark and empty place. It doesn’t seem like the God of love and light belongs in a place that lacks both.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

Ecclesiastes 7:17

Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time?

 

When you’re in that perpetual night, and feel that there is no way of escape, these verses are not the ones that you want to hear. But when searching for advice and biblical comfort, these are often what are offered when asking about suicide.

“The Bible views suicide as equal to murder, which is what it is—self-murder.”

“The Christian who has committed suicide has committed a grave sin.”

“Suicide is a grave sin equivalent to murder.”

Not easy messages to hear or process.

 

Thankfully I had a ray of light in the darkness. A lighthouse to guide me through the storm. Far from the dark places being devoid of God, they are those places He enters into and fills with light. He forgives, He saves, and He will not let me go.

John 1:5

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Even though I was and am still walking in the shadow of the valley of death, I have a saviour and a comforter. Nothing can separate me from Him – not despair, not emptiness, not darkness, not death – nothing. I will fear no evil for He is with me (Psalm 23:4). I am out of that particular hole for now, out of the darkness I was in, because of Him.

Romans 8:38-39

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When you are the darkness it is difficult to hold onto these promises, but they are still true even if you cannot or chose not to believe them. He won’t let you go because His love is beyond understanding. Every time I have been in that place He has been there. Every time I have been in that place He has held me. Every time I have been in that place someone has appeared to drag me from the darkness. By His grace and faithfulness and love I am still here – that is something to which I will testify forever.

Psalm 118:17

I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord.

One thought on “Shadow of the Valley

  1. You posted this the second I finished reading James 1:2-4: ‘2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Infinitely proud of you.

    Liked by 1 person

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