My despair and fear would all be over if I ended my life. A voice raced through my mind and said, “This will all be over if you kill yourself.” For a brief moment I considered the thought. This was a suicidal thought that came from the devil at a very low time in my ministry. Jesus was right, “The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy.” (John 10:10) My adversary was looking to take me out.
How did I end up here?
- Prolonged discouragement led me to that horrible place of despair.
- I was discouraged because of unmet expectations in the ministry, broken relationships in my leadership team, and a sense of personal failure.
- I felt I should have done so much better as a spiritual leader in my church. After all, I had read all the books, attended the conferences, and had successfully grown the church for years.
I learned a valuable lesson. Past successes do not guarantee present or future victories.
Suicidal thoughts afflicted men of faith in the Scripture. Moses, Jonah, and Elijah were three men of God who experienced great despair. In Numbers 11:15, Moses prayed to the Lord. He said, “If You treat me like this, please kill me here and now—if I have found favor in Your sight—and do not let me see my wretchedness!” Jonah prayed, Jonah 4:3 “Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!” Elijah prayed that he might die (1 Kings 19:4).
How did I pull myself out of this dark hole? It wasn’t easy, because the battle continued to rage for months.
- The first thing I did was cast down the imagination. I recognized it as a demonic thought. It came from outside of me. It shot through my mind like an arrow. I rebuked the thought and it fled from me.
- Next I put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. I would offer the sacrifice of praise during my devotional time with God. I would worship in church with tears in my eyes. My wonderful wife would play praise music all night long to lift the cloud of darkness. Night time was the worst time.
- Thirdly, I read the Psalms. I would read 10 Psalms every day. They came alive to me. They spoke to me, comforted me, and armed me for battle. God spread a table before me in the presence of mine enemies (Psa. 23:5).
- Finally, I memorized Psalm 23 and the Lord’s Prayer and recited the prayers throughout the day. God used these Scriptures to become my intercession. God used these prayers to focus my attention on higher things.
It took time. It took prayer. It took perseverance. The Lord brought me through the dark valley. I know He can do the same for you. I can say this with all confidence.
The sun will shine again. God will make everything beautiful in its time. The end of the Lord will be good.
Tim Forsthoff, Lead Pastor, Cornerstone Church, Highland, MI