If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we I live or die, we belong to the Lord. Romans 14:8 (NLT)

I attended a Suicide Prevention Seminar recently. The presenter was a well-known ‘expert’ in researching why people commit suicide. His hour long presentation showed the physiological, emotional and mental similarities with suicide. It was an incredible learning experience for me.

The one thing that has stuck with me since that session was his statement that most suicide victims don’t want to die; they just want to escape the pain. Their actions aren’t meant to hurt anyone or themselves. In their minds the only way to escape the pain they are in is to die.

He told a story of a young man who had decided to commit suicide. He had it all planned out. The day. The process. Everything. On the morning of his impending death he began to have second thoughts. He decided that if, in the process of his day, just one person would ask him how he was, if he was okay, etc. he’d tell them his plan and ask for help.

He was either crying or near tears all day. He came in contact with several people he knew and a few he didn’t know. In spite of his tears and obvious emotional state, not one person asked him what was wrong.

Fortunately, when he finally attempted to take his life, he was unsuccessful. He ended up in a hospital as a result of the attempt, and is now living with the scars of his attempt, but with freedom from pain.

All of us can feel, at times, like we are all alone, like no one really cares, like the things we do in life are futile and unappreciated. We bear the pain of past neglect or abuse. The question each of us must answer isn’t “Will I encounter pain in life?” but “How will I handle the pain I encounter.

People handle their wounds in different ways. Some turn to drugs and alcohol. Some turn to sex, lust and a variety of relationships. Others rely on anger, power, strength and violence, or take part in being the abuser rather than the abused. I’m convinced that most people don’t ‘sin’ to hurt others, or reject God. Sin is a symptom of deeper pain and an attempt to relieve that pain.

Pain, be it physical, spiritual or emotional, is inevitable. How we handle the pain in our lives can depend largely on the support system we have in place. People struggling with life need to know someone cares.

We can say to others that Jesus cares, but until they see that care manifested in our Lord’s tools, (his people) they will never fully understand what his care really means for them. You may think you can’t make a difference in people’s lives. That’s simply not true.

Just watching for signs of pain in the lives of others and asking ‘how is it going’ or ‘what’s wrong?’ may be the very thing they need to work through the pain. We don’t get involved in peoples lives because we are special; we get involved in people’s lives because they are special.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, you have put me here for a reason. I ask for you help in dealing with my own pain. Help me use what you have given me to help others live free from their pain as well. Amen.