He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
If someone were to cut off your air supply, an enormous struggle would ensue as you begin to fight for air. Instinct for self-preservation, which is an instinct we have been given so that we may act in our best interest, is one of the strongest instincts we have. Our central nervous system even has a wiring system designed to kick into gear when danger strikes. We have hormones that are designed to pump in order to give our bodies the strength needed to flee or fight.
But, what if someone has lost that instinct for self-preservation? How tragic that someone could become broken enough that their own need for survival goes completely missing. When the need for self-preservation becomes degraded, the mind is no longer sound. That person is not functioning in an identity that God created for them.
I have experienced the kind of brokenness that comes when you take your own life into your hands and turn against yourself completely. It is a state of mind that is, actually, truly horrific. It goes against all logic and reason. The brain is in a chemical state that continues to feed the broken mind until, finally, a decision is made. The snap happens and the line is crossed.
If anyone ever needed a life preserver thrown at them at a crucial moment, it would be the moment when the instinct for self-preservation disappears. The person is rendered unable to act in their own best interest. Unless you have been there, it is difficult to understand how and why someone in that state truly does not know what they are doing.
I have been on life-support, I have been transported by ambulance, and I have been flown to a trauma center by helicopter because of the moments when my own self-preservation disappeared. My heart has stopped beating and my lungs have quit breathing more than once.
All of the details will not be written here, because I handed them over to Jesus. I have relived and relived and relived it. I have carried that baggage around and beat myself with it for far too long. My story belongs to God to do with as He pleases.
I want to share this part of my story because I know there are people walking around right now who are in desperate need of a life preserver.
If you are someone who has lost yourself so deeply that your own instinct for survival is disappearing, I want you to grab a hold of my hand. I am throwing out a life preserver and I want to help swim you to shore.
I have experienced both sides of the coin when it comes to the aftermath of suicide and suicide attempts. I was once the patient and then, one day, I became the nurse.
There was a common theme among my patients when they were recovering from a suicide attempt: most did not have visitors at their bedside. They were alone, incredibly frightened, and incredibly broken. I have held more than one hand as a patient would sob and weep out of a place of complete brokenness.
By not showing up, people inadvertently ended up validating the depth of the worthlessness that contributed to the suicide attempt in the first place.
There is not much of an outpouring of compassion toward someone who has lost the will to live and tried to accomplish a truly horrific act. I have heard thoughts and opinions about this topic from all kinds of sources and from all kinds of mouths. The general consensus is that the person in the center of it is completely selfish and probably deserves what they get.
During one of my shifts, a patient of mine committed suicide in his hospital room. The details of that are not something I care to recount. I did not take it well and it hit me in one of the sorest areas of my entire life.
What truly broke me was listening to what was being said about the incident at the nurse’s station:
“This guy was such a frequent-flyer here, good riddance. He has been trying to kill himself all year.”
“OMG, he was my patient last month and he was so gross. Blech.”
“I have a list of people I wish would just kill themselves off and then I could be happy.”
“Why do we even try to save these people? If they want to die, let them die. They are a waste of resources for patients who are actually suffering.”
It was after that shift I resigned my position and I did not walk through those hospital doors as a nurse again. I was done.
I broke and I continued to break until my journey finally brought me right here, right now. I began to believe I was hated and judged by the people I loved most and it shattered me. Whether or not that is true, only God knows. My own guilt set in and shame came along to seep in and spread itself around, all gunky and gross.
I began to hate myself with a hatred so intense I challenged God to a wrestling match that lasted several years. I hurled stones at Him, I yelled at Him, and I followed Him around all day every day with the most painful questions I could ever think to ask. I wanted to know why I survived when so many others do not. I wanted to know why families were losing loved ones to sickness while I had survived these acts. I wanted to know why so many people fall into such depths of darkness.
I dared Him to shine a light in all of the dark places. I dared Him to take me off of life support.
And, you know what?
That is exactly what He did! Little by little, the light began to sink into the places where shame had been growing like an insidious, silent cancer. Little by little, I began to breathe again.
It is certainly easy for all of us to judge each other, especially when we have no understanding of the things that only God sees. If people are judging you right now, let them judge. Then forgive them for it. You do not understand them and they do not understand you. No one is at fault here. Sometimes we are dealing with an impossible wound. The only way for the bleeding to stop is for Jesus Christ to step in and place a tourniquet on it.
The only One who actually sees the things that they eyes do not and hears the cries that the ears do not is JESUS. He died so He can come to your rescue. He went into the depths of Hades so He could experience the things He wanted to rescue you from.
He heard the sound of the weeping and gnashing of teeth and was resurrected from that place so we could have life.
His compassion is truly poured out upon the broken.
Jeremiah 29:11 became a life preserver for me: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
I have seen God’s fingerprints all over some of the most traumatic moments of my life. And, I praise Him for it. I THANK Him for every moment I have ever lived through in spite of it all. Every step in my journey, even the most difficult ones, were used by God to bring me toward Him. That right there is my miracle.
Now, when I look back at the times when my will to live broke, I see God’s fingerprints.
I see the doctor who came into my hospital room after the tubes were pulled from my throat and my body. He pulled up a chair and sat next to the bed to let me know the severity of what happened. He told me about the two police officers who took off their badges to sit at the hospital that night because they were afraid I would die alone. Those two police officers asked the doctor to show me the evidence of what I had done to myself. And, the doctor showed me. The doctor patted my hand and told me to remember that a miracle happened as he got up to leave the room.
I see those two police officers at my house later on down the road. They wanted to see me alive and well. They shared with me what they experienced when they found me. They hugged me, held my hands, and told me what a miracle they witnessed. They cried for me when I was unable to cry for myself.
I see the paramedic who lifted up her sleeves to show me her scars as she transported me from one hospital to another. She held my hand and whispered, “You’re not alone. You will survive this. I promise.”
I see the life flight nurse who gently turned my head so I could look out of the helicopter and see the mountains. He yelled over the roar of the helicopter’s blades and engine to tell me, “You are safe. I will not let your heart stop beating. Keep your eyes open, look at the view on the horizon out there. You will survive this.”
I have heard it said that you can only praise God to the degree of which you have lamented.
There has been an awful lot of lamenting on this planet and the seas are going to roar at the sound of His name!
The tears that are flowing now, as I type this, are not tears of grief, but they are tears of JOY! Our God is a God of great mercy.
Keep your eyes open and look at the view! God can move MOUNTAINS!
Rescue is on the way, so take this life preserver and grab it. You do not need your own strength to do it.
I am glad I have experienced the brokenness it takes to let go of your own life, because John 12:25-26 gave me a new place to let it go:
Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
Your life is in His hands. Let Him hold it and let Him hold you.
Allow yourself to become shattered in Him. He is the only One able to put the pieces back together.
**If you are feeling suicidal, there is help: SUICIDE.ORG has resources available.
I praise You and I thank You for teaching me how to lose my own life so that I may lose it for the sake of Christ. I thank You for the depths of Your mercy. It is time for mountains to be moved and for miracles to happen in the desolate places. Shine a LIGHT into the dark corners of the heart and hand out life preservers to the lost sheep who are crying to be rescued. Let the seas start roaring at the sound of YOUR NAME! Be the strength and the life so many desperately need.
Forgive me, Lord, for taking matters into my own hands and set me free from the burdens of this world. I enjoy the sound of the chains falling off! Come and rescue the lost the sheep and give them NEW LIFE!
Let the weight of Your glory cover us! It is time to call some names out of the tomb.
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
This post appears in the book: Shattered in Him © 2016 JD Mays