Have you ever just wanted to die? I don’t mean just using that statement as a figure of speech, or an extreme exageration when you feel down. Have you ever been so low that you honestly believed that death might bring peace, comfort and if nothing else, respite from this life?
I have been there! I remember an incident in January, 2003 when I was sleeping in the den in my Franklin home. It was a cold night and the little enjoyment I might have found was sleeping next to the fireplace. Sometime in the middle of the night my 13 year-old daughter entered the room screaming, “daddy wake up, wake up.” The flue on the fireplace was closed and the room was filled with smoke, a few more minutes; maybe an hour and I would have died of smoke inhilation.
I spent most of the next day cursing God for letting me live. It would have been such a peaceful and easy exit from this life. Everything around me had collapsed and I didn’t think I had much to live for. That is a period in my life that I hate and cherish. I regret my faith had grown so weak that I no longer trusted God, but I cherish the fact that I now can relate to others who are wallowing in the pit of despair.
God allows us valleys in life for many reasons. We learn humility, empathy or sometimes we just need to have the rough chips knocked off around the edges and the marble of God’s masterpiece polished to a fine shine. The Lord is still smoothing a lot of my rough edges and teaching me through trial, but only because I am a hard-headed and stubborn subject of my King.
Many of us have turned to Psalms 23 when trials and hardships approach, but I would encourage you to turn back to Psalms 22. At least in my case it is a much better reflection of how I feel in those moments of despair. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from me, so far from my cries of anquish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest…” Now read through Psalms 22 and then read the 23rd Psalm. God is there even when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death.