The Story of an Unfinished Poem
I haven’t ever tried to kill myself, nor have I been whisker-close to doing so. But I have thought that death would be preferable to living. A lot of times.
When a pall of depression overwhelms me, negative thoughts vie for control of my spirit: hopelessness about immature traits that I still display; frustration over unanswered prayers for loved ones; battle-weariness due to being pummeled again and again by temptation; dismay due to an incapacity to smile or to laugh; aggravating physical pain that escalates as I age, especially due to chronic back issues.
I’m well aware that we all know pain and struggles, but a depressed mind exaggerates the normal stressors and problems that everybody experiences.
Often, when I’m in the vise-grip of despair, I try to describe my inner state in poetic form. Today I began scribbling such a poem. The first two lines immediately popped into my mind:
I want to die. The reasons why
do not add up. They multiply.
But I couldn’t finish it. I struggled more than usual to depict my emotional state in words. I identified a few reasons why death would be better (so I thought), but I couldn’t come up with the descriptors or an apt rhyming scheme.
I believe the Holy Spirit gave me writer’s block, based on past requests to help me overcome negativity when in a state of despondency.
I put down my pencil. (I think through pencils or pens, not a keyboard.) Without intentionally shifting my thoughts to God’s Word, a parade of Bible verses demanded my attention, including, but not limited to, these:
*The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him” (Nahum 1:7).
*”The Lord longs to be gracious to you…He waits on high to have compassion on you” (Isaiah 30:18).
*”For you have need of endurance so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. For yet in a little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay” (Hebrews 10:36-37).
*Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
God’s truth sabotaged the poem. My thoughts had shifted to God’s Word, and next they settled on reasons to keep on living and be grateful:
*A lovely, supportive wife who has been by my side almost 47 years.
*Two grown sons, a daughter-in-law, and a late-in-life, precious six-year-old grandson.
*A significant ministry of teaching at Columbia International University, plus an annual trip overseas to train national Christian workers.
*Close friends who know me and still love me, who wouldn’t begrudge a desperate call from me at 3:00 A. M.
*Debt-free status that will take off a lot of the financial pressure when I retire from CIU.
*A dachshund who greets me every day with tail-thumping exuberance, whose high-pitch whine when I pick him up reveals his delight at seeing me.
And the list of reasons to be grateful and to keep living went on and on…
And I no longer wanted to die. I wadded up the sheet of paper on which I had started the poem, and tossed it in a trash can. I didn’t feel ecstatic. I didn’t do emotional cartwheels, yet something that faintly resembled a smile formed on my face.
Perhaps there will come a time when I finish that poem.
But not today.
When has God’s Word beamed rays of light when you were walking in the dark?
When battling discouragement, when is the last time you listed ways to complete this sentence?
“God, I thank you for………”