Purposeful Faith

How Does God Respond When His People Want to Die?

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

Sometimes it’s easier to be a spectator. When there’s an event or tragedy making headlines and getting lots of attention in the media, that’s often what I am. I sit back and read other writers’ words. I nod and silently say, “Amen.”

But over the last weeks following the suicide of two well-known celebrities, I knew I needed to contribute more than hushed acknowledgement. I watched others speak up about their own experiences with depression and bravely tell their stories, and God stirred my soul.

I know what it’s like to be in that space where you dread waking up.

To look out the window and try to feel anything other than the slow nothingness engulfing you. After having my first child, there were days I couldn’t wait to crawl into bed and slip into the abyss of sleep.

Last week I read words from a courageous one who voiced a truth most of us don’t hear very often: Someone can love Jesus but still want to die. And I applaud her for it. These are the types of conversations more of us need to have.

Days after I read her story, its points still circled my mind and I found myself wondering, “Why do we so often want to remain silent about our own darkness?” The autopilot part of me knows the answer. People who love Jesus aren’t supposed to want to take their own lives, right? They’re supposed to have faith that can heal and a spirit that finds peace in his presence, right?

Yes, these things are possible. God is able. But they aren’t always the rule. And the thought in my mind days after I read another sojourner’s words was, “Even some prophets dealt with this darkness.”

Want to see for yourself? Elijah and Jonah, who were both servants of the Lord and heard directly from him, stated they wanted to die. (See 1 Kings 19 and Jonah 4)

These were men who not only thought about dying, but openly told God they wanted to.

These were men who God chose specifically to speak to and use. He trusted them and set them apart in generations filled with people who worshiped idols, bowed to Baals and turned to everything but him to find fulfillment.

They were not far from God, but vessels of his message. They transformed lives and brought hope. At the point they stated their anguish, they had seen God perform the miraculous. Fire from heaven at Elijah’s word. For Jonah, the nation of Ninevah transformed from vile acts of brutality to repentance.

And yet, they wanted to die.

Now, I’m not going to go into the details surrounding each man’s journey. But if we read their stories, we see one was afraid of a crazy king’s wife and the other was angry. Their desire to die stemmed from very different emotions.

What I want to talk about today isn’t their reasons, but God’s response. Because there are many who think God turns away from these types of feelings and cries of despair. And I’m here to tell you he doesn’t.

So how did God respond? Did he chastise them? Turn away and cast them into hell? Hide his face and let them wander in darkness?

Not even close. Here are three ways God responds when his followers want to die:

  1. He comes to them in their need and allows them to rest.

God does not turn away from his children. He doesn’t yell, “How dare you say such a thing!” or act as though he can’t believe one of his own followers is making such a bold statement. In Elijah’s distress, he sends an angel to him with food and water. He lets him sleep and prepare for the long journey ahead. Once he’s had time to regain his strength, he follows him to Mount Horeb. To Jonah he provides shade and eases his discomfort. And although he later takes the plant away to illustrate a point to Jonah, he doesn’t leave him.

  1. He gets to the heart of the matter.

God doesn’t shy away from what’s really going on in these men’s hearts. He asks questions. He sees the things they’re not saying or asking. To Elijah he asks, “What are you doing here?” (1 Kings 19:9) and to Jonah he asks, “Is it right for you to be angry?” (Jonah 4:4) God already knows the answer to these questions. He wants the men whose hearts he’s after to see what he sees.

  1. He listens.

God doesn’t interrupt these prophets or cut them off as they’re explaining how they’ve arrived at this place. Once again, he knows the answer. In Elijah’s case, he knows he mistakenly believes he’s the only follower left. But he still lets him speak. He lets him say these words he’s been holding onto as he traveled through the wilderness thinking there was no one left to serve God.

Sometimes the journey through the wilderness is what prepares us to receive the truth.

Friend, I don’t know where you are today. I don’t know if you’re fighting through darkness or if you’re standing firm in a place of victory today. But can I tell you God sees you, no matter what? He doesn’t turn away from those places you keep buried.

God doesn’t stand in disbelief at statements like the ones from Elijah and Jonah. He comes close. He reaches through the gap. When we hurt, he hurts.

Talk to him today. Even if you don’t think he hears, talk to him anyway. He’s is right there and is waiting for you to reach for him.

 

Abby McDonald is the mom of three, a wife and writer whose hope is show readers their identity is found in Christ alone, not the noise of the world. When she’s not chasing their two boys or cuddling their newest sweet girl, you can find her drinking copious amounts of coffee while writing about her adventures on her blog. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog and her growing Facebook community.

 

 

 

 

If you need to talk or you know somebody struggling, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text with someone at the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.


      

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38 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Look I’ve had 52 years of a bad life and god doesn’t love all his children.
    It’s not about having money I’ll never be rich but I get by.
    Life can be a bad dream for some of us. I didn’t ask to be born I didn’t ask for this life
    I’m not looking to be saved. I would like not to be here.
    I’m just a ugly guy wishing he was dead. Gods joke me he could of made me into anything
    but this. We can’t change how we are built I look in the mirror and scream GOD WHY
    There is no reason for me to be here I wish I where dead and I pray endlessly for god to take me back,I don’t want this life in this body….

  • I am sure you are fine. Don’t feel this way its your thinking I do the same thing I just lost my husband of 12 years I want to die but we have to keep god 1st. He will open doors. Send me a pic k

  • Yes me too. Sometimes I just dared God this question..why did you create people like us who not only give up on a stuck life but actually tired of existing. I dont mean to sound negative but this type of suffering is not gonna change because a lot of us just cant figure out how to or why anymore. We dont even understand why we had to go through it tirelessly trying to not fail. Its a joke

  • I am been a Christian for more than a year. I read Bible daily and often, and pray to God daily. I lost my job as a sole bread winner about a year ago. My expense is high and I do not what to do. I cried to God for help to open doors for me. The fact is I do not see any door really opens for more than a year.

    I see beautiful and encouraging words from the Bible but I have yet to see the deed and the truth in the words. I’m really stuck in life and I don’t know what to do. I am tired of this world and I cried to God to take me away, while I’m worried for my family and how they survive when I’m not here.

    Where is God when I most need Him? I want to love Him, trust Him, and have faith in Him. But where is God when I most need Him? I seek Him with all my heart, and yet I don’t feel I’ve found Him. Yet I don’t feel He is beside me.

    I really hope God is really there for me…. as I hope and hope and hope. God, help me…show me that you’re real and you love me. Any advice for me will be welcomed.

    • I am going through a similar if not exact situation you are. And I hope by now my comment doesn’t apply to you and you’ve found God in your storm. I don’t have much to say but to have complete faith in him! He is God of the universe. Sometimes we. Don’t understand why we go through things or when they will end we just have to trust in what his word says. That he will never leave nor forsake us. And that ALL things work out for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose. I don’t why I’m going through what I’m going through I’m not perfect but I know that when I come out of this the character, faith and trust that’s being built in me will be worth it. I rather go through turmoil on this earth and come out of the fire as gold then give up on God right before my breath through and live a life of sin and spend an eternity away from God in hell. Just keep your faith and keep pressing toward Christ! It will all work out ❤️

    • God is there. And I am in the same boat. Looking for answers but I know when I really need him he will be there. My life is really bad but for now I deal with it and kn ow G
      od is watching over me

      • Perhaps God is just as involved in each life, as he is with the molecules. Those appear to attract and react, as if they have no purpose just going with the flow. They pay no attention to the others nor compare themselves. Maybe all the scripture is to assist us to having a mind similar in thought. He made it all. We just observe wonder and live in awe. Nothing less. Nothing more. This helps me, at least.

  • I seek God yet he is no where to be found. I hate my life. Everything that can go wrong has went wrong. I haven’t worked in years because I was unable to find work. I decided to back to school and now I have debt and still can’t find work. I need two surgeries and my husband just left me. I’m really depressed and have no friends or family to depend on. I just want to die. Why keep living? I have absolutely no reason to exist. My life is like some cruel joke.

    • I’m really sorry to hear that.
      As for me, I think the day I die will be such a relief. Honestly, I can’t get there quickly enough 🙁
      But God loves us. There is meaning in all suffering?

  • To Alberto, Laura, and Just tired.
    Everytime you feel sad or depress, pickup your Bible and read it and then pray. You have to put your problem in God’s hands and let him handle the problems for you. And do not take the problems back. He will take care of them. He still has you here for a reason. Make sure you thank him every day for all he has done for you, and praise him often. Continue reading your Bible and praying everyday weather things are going good are bad. Believe me he will answer you. God answers our prayers on his time and not ours. Maybe he is testing your faith. God bless you all, and please stay strong.

  • I believe anyone can come to God as they are … you just have to have an open heart you have to desire him but to desire him is to give up your lifes treasures what you treasure the most …you will experience God peace if you let him come into your life that’s the only way to except him because why except him if we will have one foot in the door you have to ask him in prayer to help you to do his will. but on our part we have to agree with him and desire his ways to live in the bible it is a true way to really get to know him and experience his love for you he speaks to us through the bible but for us to love him we have to get to know him he reveals to us who desire him and want to know him and we have to keep ourselves away from the impurity lifestyle we can’t reach or stay close to him that way ….if you really desire a new relationship with him and really will devote yourself for the rest of your life then if you have trouble doing this or any doubt then you can say a prayer alone in your room and ask God sincerely from your heart that you need him and ask for forgiveness for your past sins then ask what you need to do next and wait for an answer he may respond with bringing a person to you to go to a church like he did me or may use family members to help you get through the obstacles in your life but your job is to LISTEN to them like I had too.they will guide you at times what you may to work on or what needs removing in your life you may feel awkward because you may start doing things you dont normally do in sin or bad things might start happening because the enemy the devil likes to persuade you to sin but quickly ask God to help you to rid that but at the same time you will also have a desire to know more about God word and the more you desire it and live for it the more you will desire God’s present and less of what you desire which is the fleshly things just keep hope in always staying connected to him in all areas of your life whether bad not going your way or good when all is well just remind yourself that once your enter a relationship with God you desire less sin and a more desire to please him it’s not easy to be a Christian but you can be rest assured that no matter what you are going through he will be there for you….you just have to ask him and he will answer you if you are sincere you have to be honest with God and to yourself and to others and always be humble when you come to him.in all areas of your life ….you can surely count on him…he will never let you down. Here is a tip be thankful to him he likes that. I hope you like this thanks!!

    • Marla, I wish that find God in your life, have peace with God and the fact that God only cares about God’s glory. I’ve been asking God for 40 years and only ever receive silence. I cry because of God’s absence in my existence. Without God getting directly involved (actually doing something) this existence isn’t worth the misery. I reach out to God everyday, and everyday is meet with silence. Why are we supposed to do everything and God does nothing. I gave myself to Jesus 40 years ago, nothing but misery since. Not one peep from God. I am on my second full day of complete fasting (no food or water). I plan to continue till God answers me. Bet I die before God does anything. As far as I am concerned God needs to act. God Bless You because He won’t bless me.

  • I am 24 years old. I have a 2 yr old child. I just want to die. It’s so hard being a single mom. I grow up without a father and I never wanted that for my child. My emotions or so out of control. Right now am hating my child because I want my old life back I just want to be free.

  • I have most of my life been unloved and used. I pray, cry out to my Lord. I am so tired of being tired and alone. I beg God, I don’t feel alone I am alone. Tired of begging taking leftovers and scraps. Tired of being a nothing.

  • I think the problem for most of us in our disappointment with God is that we have never experienced authentic community like the first few hundred years of Christianity, and that we have yet to understand the Bible is not some magic wand that if we just read it enough, pray with it enough, speak it enough supernatural events will occur. To the latter, the Bible seems to be more God acting in history to show the coming of the Messianic figure and therefore all its miracles, events, etc, are setting that up and then proving He was legitimate. So a lot of those miracle type things probably won’t happen anymore. But after He came, notice that the early ekklesias (churches) were often meeting one another’s needs on a daily basis. Rich believers sold their possessions and helped minister to the poor among them. People that could cook, cooked. People that had land or houses let other believers meet in those places. They did this because they were coming to ‘love’ one another selflessly, the greatest miracle of all. I don’t want to over idealize it, but most of us have never experienced that kind of daily interaction/community because we’ve grown up in a culture where the church is something you do or go to ‘x’ times a week and not who you are and are a part of moment by moment. The church for us is an information dump telling us three steps to this and five steps to that, but not a place where people come and spend hours of face to face time interacting, sharing, discussing, praying, helping. It’s come and sit on a pew/chair, face the front, sing songs by people we’ve never met (and thus can’t identify with their faces), listen to thirty plus minutes of sin management or pep talk or guilt trip, mindlessly give money and then go about our way, hardly interacting with anyone outside the place. It sets up a filtered view of who God is and how He meets needs. We are too individualistic and I think that’s why we suffer at some level. For those of you going through the ringer and the fire…I know, I’m there too. I’m not going to sugarcoat it and say just ‘pray’ more or ‘confess’ more or ‘read’ more. You’ve been doing all of those things. I’m not going to say just hang in there. Your spiritual fingers are cracked and calloused from doing just that. That would not be pouring oil and wine into your wounds to bind them up…but acid, burning them more and deeper. I’m just going to say let go of your expectations as to what and how you think God ‘meets’ needs and pray that God help you find authentic community where you can be helped, loved, and also help and love others. That’s what I’m seeking. I will also say that your suffering can change you for the better…and that’s why it hurts. Make no bones about it. Jesus said if you wanted to follow him there were going to be times it was tough as hell because that’s what this world is: the doorstep of hell. I feel for all of you but even if I could I wouldn’t change your situation (save for physical help like feeding you or paying a bill for you) totally: I want to see what God is up to in all of this myself…all this human suffering that He also endured…where does this all lead?

  • Is not about want to die is I just dont want to be here the pain the sadnees is to much of god exist I want to be with him

  • I have severe mental illness issues. I’m not in a good place. My meds aren’t working anymore. I feel used and abandoned. I want God to take me home. I’ve lost 12 people in a year and a half. I’m so depressed I just don’t want to go on anymore. I’m tired. I’m just giving up. I want to go to pass peacefully in my sleep.

  • I’m a Christian I want to die I want to go home and be with Jesus I just don’t want to be here anymore I want to go to a place where I am loved and there no pain no worries no stress and peaceful

  • I want to die because I can’t take the constant hate. Yes,it’s racial. I love Jesus with everything I have,but I can’t take this anymore. No, I’m not black nor white. I have friends who are Christian’s make race statements. In church,too. Unless, it’s directed at you,you will never understand. I stay in my home because I can’t even take a walk in my own neighborhood. I once had someone try to run over me. I’m half white,half Japanese in the bible belt. When 911 happened,people thought I was middle eastern and it was horrible. Worse time in my life! Now with this coronavirus from China…well you know how people feel. Jesus has never left my side and I know that. I just want to be with Him and like one person stated where there is love. It’s not just the whites who are hateful, but it’s the blacks,too. You can’t claim to be a Christian and say “I’m not prejudice because I have a black friend “or visa versa. It’s not black and white anymore. You can’t claim to be a Christian if you have a tiny speck of hate in your heart. The only one who understands is Jesus and I want to be with Him.

  • I feel like the world would be a better place without me in it. I have stuffed my life up to the point that it probably won’t ever get better again. Let people walk all over me, stand up for myself and suffer the consequences. In a relationship where the guy constantly taking my money, lies, cheats and hurts me on a regular basis. Tells me my family hate me. Have a job where they always remind you that you can be replaced no matter how hard you work. Feel very alone wish that God would strike me down as life is one disappointment after the next. Probably only any good for spare parts (organ donation)

    • Hi Debra, Feel exactly the same ,a Christian a long time, Evangelist and fully serving God in church and mercy ministry but i hate living and suffer with horrendous depression every day FOR 5 YEARS four suicide attempts among that period. I beg God to kill me and if he does not soon I will do it, I think it is cruel for God to let me EXIST like this really really cruel no healing in sight, So I fully understand all the bloggers in despair death is the only way for peace .

  • just breathe – put on EWTN, watch and read edifying things…..drink water, sleep enough, walk some, or stretch, find one thing to be greatful for (even if it is breathing)….learn a few quick prayers or verses – fill your mind – it will sink to your heart.

    We don’t know the big picture but have to have HOPE that there is a reason we are all here, at this point in time. Just like Jesus choice a certain point in time to break into history. He suffered more than we will ever understand or know – but He said “PIck up your Cross and follow Me” — that alone gives us hope that HE KNOWS and UNDERSTANDS all that we endure – He is our Big Brother who paved the path for us to Eternal bliss — just keep following (even if feel blind) – H,e’s there –
    and remember He respects our free Will – so you need to be the one to open your Heart & Mind & Soul to Him – “Jesus I Trust in You”. He LOVES YOU…

  • I had a terrible childhood; all I ever wanted was my own home and family. I had six kids. Sometimes life was hard, but we worked hard and raised them with love. Now I am old, have terrible back injuries, and our kids are living happily without us. Our old house needs major repair done and we have no help. I have prayed for 10 years for someone and God hasn’t answered. I hoped my son would help but he is using drugs again! It hurts to have sacrificed so much for your kids, and have them just walk away and not care if we live or die. My husband and I live in constant physical pain; the loneliness hurts even worse. We.need to have our house fixed! Please God, I just want to die. It hurts so bad. Why are kids so ungrateful? We need help. We miss our grandkids so much too.

    • Laurel,
      I am praying for you now. I hear the hurt you are in. Physical pain, loneliness, real practical issues. The God of the universe see you too. Do you know Jesus, as your Lord & Savior? I wish I could be there to fix your house. If it we’re possible my wife and I could have you over and talk, enjoy a meal together. My wife & I are Both 48 and Going through an impossible complex trial. It’s really painful. We have cried out to God and are waiting to see Him answer the promises He makes to His children. I’ll be praying for you in the coming days!

  • I am not useful to anyone . I don’t knw the purpose of being here in this life. I am not a good father, son and husband.

    I don’t have friends or family to who atleast think I do any useful. Should I live still ?

  • Yeah I’m not suicidal but I’m ready to go..I have worked hard for a better life but I feel cursed..just ready to check out of this physical and emotional pain

  • The Bible is about men written by men. Women do not and should not feel bound by this fairytale book that tells stories about men. There is no God. God doesn’t feel people’s pain. If it were true then a “good and loving” God would take the pain away. This whole world is a world just for males. It sucks. The Bible sucks. The god in the Bible sucks and it’s all about males. This human can’t wait for death. I hope I never have to be in some other world work males.

  • I dont think hell fire is a place. It isn’t a firey pit. It is a point in your life where you’re left alone to suffer. And this is what I thinknow God means when he said: “you will beg for death, but it will not come.”
    I’m only 16. I’m not ready for all the sadness my life is filled with. I am the most disgraceful human being on the planet, yet I don’t smoke, do drugs, date, commit crimes, etc. I’m just the son my parents never wished for. Sometimes I think of myself as a punishment for something my parents might have done in their past or something. Because there’s no way I’m just so much of a burden, and yet I cannot just die in my sleep and end my suffering. I can’t run away. And I can’t change and be a perfect child for more than a day without making a dumb mistake. I don’t want to wake up. My greatest wishits is that I sleep one night, and I do not wake up ever again. I want my parents to cry for a week or so, then forget about it and feel free. There is no more Chisom to make you regret giving birth. There is no more Chisom to disgrace the family, or get bad grades, or “raise his voice at you”, or anything. You can enjoy your life. My siblings will grow, and make you happy. They will become rich and buy you a mansion. They are the pefect kids, you should see them. Intellegent, social, every thing I am not. There is no purpose for my existence other than to be a burden. The day God lets me die, is the day my family will thank God and find peace.

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