Thursday, September 8, 2011

I Want to Die . . . when all Hope is Lost.

Have you ever felt like death would be a welcome alternative to living?  That life is so awful that you have lost all desire to continue existing in a world that seems to offer no hope?  Maybe you have said to yourself, “I wish I had never been born?  Don’t despair, you are not alone and there is hope for you.

In my quiet times I am continuing to read Job, a man that holds fast to his integrity.  He rests in his faith alone, but that doesn’t ease the pain of his suffering.  After being bankrupt and losing his children, he is further tested by painful, loathsome sores from head to toe.  Clearly, the hand of God has come down swift and hard on this mortal man.  His days of prosperity and respect are a distant memory as friends come to sit in horror as they gaze upon this broken and downtrodden figure of a once great man.

Immediately after being plagued by these excruciating boils, Job still has a healthy perspective on life.  He says, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (2:10)  But after more than a week of intense suffering with oozing sores that pound his flesh with extreme agony and misery Job is ready to die.  He laments the day of his birth and wishes that he had never been born.  He prefers death  to the extreme torment that he now endures without hope (1:11; 7:6).  In the story of Ruth, Naomi has a similar experience after losing her husband and two sons.  She wants to change her name to “Mara” which means “bitter” because she too has lost all hope.

Loss of hope is devastating and blinding.  One of the dangers of losing hope is the inability to view life accurately.  Job loses hope and therefore wants to die and wishes he had never been born.  He forgets the joy of spending time with his children and the laughter of life.  In the same way, Naomi sees only hardship, pain and turmoil.  Naomi forgets what awaits her back in Israel, several kinsman redeemers. Naomi seems blind to the fact that Ruth, her daughter-in-law, is forgoing all hope of marriage, family and friends for her sake.  In reality, Naomi has many things to give her hope. 

When you are under great suffering, remember the stories of Job and Naomi.  There is always hope in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  Remember, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worship of praise, think about these things.” Phil. 4:8

Recommendations:
-When you are feeling blue, begin to count the blessings in your life.  Remember the past blessings and try to find one or two things you can be thankful for in your present circumstances.  (See song below).
-Read the story of Ruth (it takes less than 20 minutes).
-Keep a journal.  When you encounter times of suffering, go back and read about fun times, encouraging family stories and blessings from your heavenly Father.
-Above all, don’t stop having a daily quiet time.  There is no quicker way to lose hope than cutting off your relationship with the One who gives us eternal hope.
-Read When the Darkness Will Not Lift by John Piper.  Free pdf version at www.desiringgod.org.

I remember singing this song in church as a boy.   
Count Your Blessings.

   When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
    When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
    Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
    And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

       Refrain:
        Count your blessings, name them one by one,
        Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
        Count your blessings, name them one by one,
        *Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.
        [*And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.]

    Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
    Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
    Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
    And you will keep singing as the days go by.

    When you look at others with their lands and gold,
    Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
    Count your many blessings—wealth can never buy
    Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

    So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
    Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
    Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
    Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

Written by Johnson Oatman, Jr., 1897.

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