Choose Life :: By Nathele Graham

When things get tough, many people become downhearted. Depression sets in and life seems to have no purpose. This even happens to Christians. Too often the depression results in suicide. It’s sad that a person can get to the point where life is that unbearable. Even though at any given moment in time, circumstances seem to hold no hope, there’s always hope. God gave each person a gift of life, and that gift should never be taken for granted. Many things in life affect our outlook, but nothing we face should cause us to turn away from God.

I remember when I was in school, we studied about the Great Depression. Many people lost their investments and thought there was no hope. Suicide was their way out of the problems. Today, some people who study history say there wasn’t an increase in suicides during that time. Whether suicide increased then or not, when a person loses all hope, they do irrational things… like take their own life. Many sources say that the suicide rate today is increasing. The blame is put upon anxiety over the fear of COVID-19 and the restrictions inflicted on the population. People are forced to isolate from each other, and that’s not a normal human condition… it’s not a Biblical thing to do. Christians are encouraged in Scripture to fellowship with one another.

Fear of getting the virus causes anxiety, job loss causes a financial burden, and many more factors cause mental duress. People begin to see suicide as a way out of the despair. Scripture tells us that even the Apostle Paul came to a point in his life that he felt it would be easier to die.

“For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: but we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us” (2 Corinthians 1:8-10).

Paul had faced many, many challenges that would have discouraged a lesser man, but Paul seemed to take beatings, prison sentences, and rejection by friends in stride, so it’s quite a confession on his part to admit he “despaired of life.” Suicide is a tragic response to a bad situation, and Paul not giving in to utter despair is an example to us today. Your determination to continue standing firm upon your faith could be the example people around you need in order to not give up in the face of trials.

Life is precious from the moment of conception to the time that a natural end comes. We learn from the prophet Jeremiah, that God knows us long before we are conceived.

“Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).

Jeremiah didn’t see himself as a person whom others would listen to. He felt he was too young to be a prophet and had no authority to speak for God. In spite of that, God chose him to speak on His behalf to people who needed to know God’s truth. Jeremiah’s fear was holding him back from doing what God had chosen him to do. Jeremiah may not have “despaired of life,” but he was fearful of speaking for God.

“Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 1:8).

Is fear or despair standing in the way of the purpose God has chosen you for? It’s important for you to remember that God is with you. If you serve Him, He will never turn away from you. You may face tough times and be ridiculed for your faith, but don’t back down. Jeremiah’s life wasn’t all smooth sailing, and many people mocked him. He never gave up in despair but trusted God.

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Acknowledge God in every part of your life. By doing that, you won’t despair of life but will look for God’s blessings everywhere. Seek and ye shall find.

Everyone, young and old, is important to God. He wants everyone to choose to come to faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but that can only be done while living on this side of eternity. No matter what difficulty you might be facing today, let Christ be your strength. Turn to Him in faith and let Him open doors for you. Be patient because God’s timing is perfect and His ways are perfect. God hasn’t forgotten about you, and it’s important that you don’t forget about Him.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Could it be that your depression comes from being out of fellowship with God? The good He wants to bless you with may be hindered by your walking in step with the world rather than in fellowship with God. Maybe you’re becoming depressed because you don’t think God cares about you; but remember that even things you see as bad will be used for good as God works in your life. Don’t despair and don’t give in to depression. Study Scripture while you wait for His will to be done in your life. You’ll find much comfort and hope in the word of God.

If you listen to all the doom and gloom around, you’ll allow your mind to be overcome by fear. Job is an example of a man who would not give in to his trials. In the first chapter of Job, we get to know him a bit and see that he was a wealthy man who loved God. He had a large family that consisted of a wife, seven sons, and three daughters. These children liked to party a bit, and Job was concerned for them. He offered sacrifices on their behalf in case they sinned.

“…for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually” (Job 1:5b).

Do you spend time in prayer for others? Instead of dwelling on how bad things are in your life, if you pray for others, you might find your own depression begin to fade. The closer we are to God, the more Satan wants to separate us from Him.

Satan arrogantly approached God and asked for permission to try to turn Job away from his faith. It’s important to understand that the troubles Job faced were allowed by God, but not caused by God. Satan is behind all that’s bad in the world and can influence weak-minded people to do his bidding. God allowed Satan to try to turn Job’s heart away from God, and to despair. Job lost his wealth and all of his children died. Job was heartbroken, but he didn’t blame God.

“In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (Job 1:22). 

The next satanic attack was upon Job’s health. Very ugly boils covered all of his body. His heart was broken, he was ruined financially, and he was hideous to look at. His wife was no help.

“Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God, and die” (Job 2:9).

Instead of loving him for richer or poorer and in sickness and health, she blamed Job for not turning against God and dying. Then, friends came to him and pointed out all of his character flaws which they said were the reason behind his problems. Through it all, Job would not deny God. What he faced had the opposite effect of what Satan wanted. Job became very humble, and he stood firmly upon his faith.

“For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me” (Job 19:25-27). 

Do you have faith like that, or do you curse God and despair of life? Job did get well, and God restored all that he had lost. Job’s true wealth wasn’t in worldly wealth but in heavenly treasure. All these many thousands of years later, Job is still an example of faith and an encouragement to not give up, but to choose life.

Instead of cursing God through bad times or becoming depressed, understand that you are precious to God. Your life matters. If you put your full trust in the Lord, you will be an example to others and strengthen the faith of people around you. You might even be the example of Christian faith that brings another person to salvation in Christ. While you live in this world, don’t despair but choose life. Eternal life depends upon your choice to accept Christ today. Choose life… life in this mortal world and eternal life forever.

God bless you all,

Nathele Graham

All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God-breathed.

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