I’m still basking in the glow of my birthday. It was a really good day.
My husband started the fun the night before by revealing his latest project—a quirky, colorful planter filled with happy spring flowers. When I arrived at work, my coworkers surprised me with a scrumptious raspberry-filled birthday cake and a Trader Joe’s gift card. Chocolate covered almonds with sea salt, here I come! My patients were kind, cheerful, and generally well behaved.
My sister met me for lunch and treated me to my favorite food—Chinese at Miyo’s, and then my husband and I rendezvoused with friends at a favorite seafood restaurant for dinner. Both daughters Facetime called and told me they loved me, and throughout the day dear friends phoned, sang, and left birthday messages on Facebook.
It was a wonderful birthday.
As I opened my Bible the following day, however, I remembered that not all my birthdays have been wonderful.
A note in the margin reminded me that this time last year my husband was injured, out of work, and awaiting surgery. Underlined verses from another year show where I had claimed a promise for a loved one who was far from God and breaking my heart. A final note transported me back to a year marked by financial insecurity and fear.
Looking at those dark and uncertain times against the backdrop of today—a time when life is peaceful and my heart is happy—brought to mind a promise from Psalm 30:5:
“. . . weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”
We often ride the wave of health, happiness, and security all the way to the beach, but sometimes the wave crashes, and we find ourselves raw and wounded in a sand-covered heap on the shore.
“When I felt secure,” Psalm 30:6 says, “I said, ‘I will never be shaken.’”
Somehow we think every day should be a birthday and every sky saturated with sunshine and warmth.
But some days are not happy birthdays. They feel more like sad deathdays.
“. . . when you hid your face, I was dismayed,” the Psalmist admits.
“To you, O LORD, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy: ‘What gain is there in my destruction, in my going down into the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness?’ (Ps. 30:7-9)
We cry out, “Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me; O LORD, be my help’” (v. 10).
And God does.
Eventually the clouds change from the color of iron bars to the color of soft kittens. We receive grace to pray and persevere. The same waves that flung us roughly upon the shore carry us gently toward smooth water. The sun peeks through, the birds begin to sing, and our hearts start to hope again.
“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.
"O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever” (v. 11-12).
Perhaps today is a birthday day for you. I celebrate your joy.
Maybe your day is more like a deathday. I weep as you weep. I ask the God of all comfort to strengthen your heart and give you hope to carry on.
The number one reason for suicide, according to those who have attempted it and survived, is feeling hopeless, convinced that life is going to be miserable forever. They mistakenly believe killing themselves is the only way out.
If you’ve thought about ending your life, please remember that circumstances can change in a moment. Suicide is a permanent act based on temporary feelings. Those who have attempted suicide and failed almost always express relief that they weren’t successful.
Wherever you are on the sea of life, hold on to Jesus. He is your hope, your future, and your salvation. Say in faith with the Psalmist:
“I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”
“Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD” (Ps. 27:13).
Morning is coming.
If you or someone you love is struggling with thoughts of suicide, I’d like to share two excellent resources:
A compelling article by Jennifer Michael Hecht: 10 Things I Wish People Understood about Suicide
The 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255).