That's the number of people who commit suicide each year in the United States where suicide is the 10th leading cause of death . Depression, which has many causes, may not lead to suicide but it wears down the life forces of many. It is the leading cause of disability in the US among people ages 15-44 . Lives that once had promise are reduced to hopelessness and despair.
"Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, there is a man child conceived." Job 3:3
From week to week we examine the particulars of Job life. From afar we try to imagine what it must have been like to experience the calamities that befell him. The pain, darkness and despair, the unexplained causes he searched for, paint a picture of humanity experiencing the worse that life has to offer. How is possible for anyone to survive such circumstances?
The simplest answer we can offer is that through it all Job maintained a hope for a future in the life to come if not the life that then was.
"Though he slay me, I will hope in him." Job 13:15
For many people who are at their rope's end, hope is the antidote. It is hope that sustains and guides us. Not just any hope. In this life nothing is promised. The rain falls on the just and unjust. The Bible even states that "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." 2 Timothy 3:12
The hope that sustains us and guides our manner of living is the hope of the resurrection and an eternal home in God's kingdom. Listen as the Apostle Paul, defending himself before Felix the governor, speaks of this hope.
"But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men." Acts 24:14-16
Peter, who knew firsthand the emotions of failure and fear, points the church to the promise that outweighs the troubles of the day.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." 1 Peter 1:3-5
It was that hope that kept Job from cursing God. Although the pain he suffered was intense, yet he believed that one day he would see God who he knew to be his redeemer.
"For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!" Job 19:25-27
None of us knows what tomorrow holds. We know not what may befall us or those we love. Our task is to keep our hands in Christ's hand and learn to trust Him more each day. When life becomes overwhelming and unexplainable, let's pray that our faith wavers not.
By the grace of God, Let us be a source of encouragement and light to those who are dealing with issues of life that we cannot comprehend. Let us be the ones who point the wounded and discouraged to the Light of the World.
"Are you tempted to give way to feelings of anxious foreboding or utter despondency? In the darkest days, when appearances seem most forbidding, fear not. Have faith in God. He knows your need. He has all power. His infinite love and compassion never weary. Fear not that He will fail of fulfilling His promise. He is eternal truth. Never will He change the covenant He has made with those who love Him." Ellen White, Prophets and Kings, 164
Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:
- What does having hope mean to you?
- Is depression a lack of faith? Explain your answer.
- Is it true that those who are connected with God will never become depressed about anything? Why yes or no?
- What role, if any, does guilt play in our emotional outlook on life?
- Is it acceptable to question God when things are not going well? Explain your answer.
- If things are going bad for us, is that a sign that God is trying to tell us something? Explain your answer.
- List a Bible promise that can help alleviate the pressures of life.
- Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: Being a strong Christian includes never worrying about the difficult issues of life. Explain your answer.
We close this week's lesson with the words of Stephen before he was murdered for his faith. Although we may not see this during our times of distress, heaven's interest in our plight it is the reality for all who love God.
"But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” Acts 7:55-56
Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!
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