On Monday, the worship pastor of our San Ysidro campus, Will Fejeran, took his own life. This has come as atremendous shock to his family, our church, and all who knew and loved him. Ourprayers go out to his family and Pastor Miles shared a verse of encouragement for all who are grieving:
Weeping may endure for a night [or months or years], but joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:15
You do not need to suffer alone and in silence. Trust God and reach outfor opportunities to get the help that you need.
Statistics tell us that about 90% of people who take their lives do so as a result of suffering from mentalillness. Pastor Miles wanted everyone to know that if you are suffering thisway, you do not need to suffer alone and in silence. Trust God and reach outfor opportunities to get the help that you need.
In Mark chapter 2, Jesus is teaching in a crowded house when a paralyzed man is brought on a stretcher byhis friends to seek healing from Jesus. When they are unable to enter the houseby the door or a window to reach Jesus, they climb to the roof, make a hole, and lower their friend in to the Lord.
Any of us could be the person on that stretcher; at some time or many times in our lives, we all need someone toreach out and help us. Mental illness has that stigma that makes us feel thereis something wrong with us, but just as you would seek medical help if you hada broken leg, there is help and treatment for loneliness, depression, anxiety,bipolar disorder, etc. The church receives many questions about mental illness– Can I still be a leader if I suffer from depression? (Yes!) Can I experience God’s healing for myanxiety? (Yes!) Is it sinful for me to seek medical help for my mental illness? (No!) – and we want you to knowthat we are here and that we care. There is nothing wrong with you. Rather, you have an illness and should seek the helpthat you need.
1. What you suffer from, I suffer from.
If we claim to be without sin, wedeceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8
Any one of us can experience depression or other mental illness. We are all sinful people living in a fallenworld, but our illness is not sin. It is a complicated issue involvingphysical components, hormonal components, and spiritual components. PastorMiles shared his family’s own personal struggles with depression; heunderstands how difficult it is and reminded us that it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Suicide never solves the problem. It only causes more problems and brings pain to everyone you know. It is thedevil that wants you to feel isolated, fearful, and hopeless. The voices that tellyou “quit,” “it’s not worth it,” or “it would be better if things were ended,”are not from the Lord. God wants us to have hope and His hope is always available to us.
2. What you suffer from does not define who you are.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all thingshave become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17
People who struggle with alcoholism are taught to identify themselves as alcoholics, but if this is you,Pastor Miles encouraged you to think of yourself without this label. You areNOT an alcoholic, but a child of God. The devil wants you to identify yourself withyour ugly past, but that’s not WHO YOU ARE. If you are a Christian, then Godhas changed you, given you a hope and a future, and is turning you into the person He has called you to be.
You are not doomed, but full of the hope of Christ! Suicide is a permanentsolution to a temporary problem. Your burdens today are only temporary – theydo not define your life, your character, or your future. God will not forsake you; He wants you to reach out to Him.
3. We all need one another.
A new command I give you: Loveone another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all menwill know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:34-35
Pastor Miles confided that he has leaned on counselors for decades. These are people that help him understandhimself. He is complicated, just as all of us are. There is no shame in that and there is no shame in seeking help.
If you feel you can’t get help, that’s the devil’s lie to you. We are not meant to do life alone. As God stated in the Garden of Eden, it is not good for man to be alone. The devil wants us in isolation because God created us to be in relationship.
There are 59 places in the Bible where God gives “one another” instructions about how to live together incommunity. Here are some examples of the Bible’s instruction:
- Accept one another (Rom. 15:7)
- Bear one another's burdens (Gal. 6:2)
- Build one another up (Rom. 14:19)
- Have concern for one another (1 Cor. 12:25)
- Comfort one another (1 Thess. 4:18)
- Confess our faults to one another (James 5:16)
- Be devoted to one another (Rom. 12:10a)
- Be kind to one another, forgive one another (Eph 4:32)
- Be honest with one another (Col. 3:9)
- Love one another (Rom. 13:8)
- Pray for one another (James 5:16)
Imagine if we stopped judging each other and only lived out what the Bible teaches us about relationships!
4. We all need to go to Jesus.
Nor is there salvation in anyother, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we mustbe saved. Acts 4:12
Someone recently asked the church, “Does your Christianity really work?” The answer is simple. It is just like exercise: it only works if you do it! Coming to church is only part of theChristian walk. You are going to be confronted with conflict and pain in thisfallen world all your life, but you have to trust the Lord, walk with God, andlean into your brothers and sisters in Christ on a daily basis in order to navigate it well.
For those at Rock Church, we encourage you to go Life Class. Get in a small group. Surround yourself withpeople who will support you, listen to you, and pray for you. (Did you knowthat 95% of people who come to receive counseling at the church are NOT in a small group?)
Think about your relationship with God and your involvement with the church body. How faithfully are you takingadvantage of the resources available to you? If you need help, please visit www.sdrock.com/supportresources.
You can tell someone about your struggles. If you are on the stretcherlike the man in Mark 2, for whatever reason – physical health, spiritualstress, fearfulness, loneliness, emptiness, depression – allow your friendshere at the church to help you come to Jesus. The Bible teaches that notemptation will overtake you that is too difficult for you to handle, but thisdoesn’t mean that you are meant to handle it alone. God loves you, wants to hold you, comfort you, forgive you, healyou, and restore you but you need to come to Him. Take a step toward Him now and let someone know that you are hurting.