Finding Hope in God’s Story: Understanding Suicide, Purpose, and Faith

Show Notes

In this episode of Faithful Fridays, Johnny delves into a thought-provoking topic that stemmed from a billboard he saw advertising the new suicide hotline number, 988. He reflects on the importance of the message but also critiques the cultural mindset that places too much emphasis on individual stories and accomplishments. 

Drawing from Scripture, Johnny emphasizes God’s role in shaping our lives and fulfilling His purposes through us. He shares verses like Ephesians 2:10, Proverbs 16:9, and Psalm 138:8 to underscore the importance of trusting in God’s plan rather than relying solely on our own abilities.

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TIMESTAMPS:

(00:00) Introduction and Billboard Encounter 

(02:31) Reflections on the Suicide Hotline Number 988 

(04:57) Critique of the “Your Story Matters” Narrative 

(07:22) Understanding Our Significance in God’s Story 

(09:46) Biblical Perspective on Mental Health and Suicidality 

TRANSCRIPT:

Johnny Sanders (00:09)

Hello and welcome everyone back to another episode of Faithful Fridays here on Faithfully Engaged. So for today, I’m going to do a little bit of a different topic. This is just something that kind of popped into my mind. Sometimes on these Faithful Fridays, I will, most of the time I’ll take a little bit more of an in-depth look into the topic that happened on Monday and just go a little bit deeper into it. Give

some more of a Biblical and faithful lens to that discussion. Today, I’m just going to kind of do my own thing for a little bit. So let me give you a little bit of a story. I’m driving down to go to my church. For those of you who know me personally, I run my private practice, counseling private practice called Truth and Grace Counseling. And I see clients in person down at my church. I get to

I run the financial, so I have a little offering kind of financial office there. I have keys too, so I get to see some clients in person there. So anyway, I’m driving down to go to the church, see some clients that day, and I see this billboard. And this billboard and big kind of bright numbers there has 988 on it. And I’m assuming most of you probably know the significance of those.

three digits there, 988. But if you don’t, that is the new suicide hotline number. I’m a very big fan of the switch. It did have just a kind of a typical longer-digit phone number and was just really hard to remember. I like that it is just the simple 988 very much like you guys don’t have to really think of how to call.

the emergency line right? 911 is very easy. So I like that it’s 988 very, very easy. And hey, if you or a loved one ever is in a very suicidal type of crisis, that is the number to go to. Now I’m very, very useful. So I appreciate that that billboard said that, but it also had underneath there and I’m blanking on the exact word. So I’m taking a little bit of a liberty, but it said something along the lines of,

Johnny Sanders (02:31)

your story matters or you have a story left to tell or something like that. And it was trying to signify, hey, like, don’t try to kill yourself. Don’t try to off yourself. You still have something left to give to the world. And hey, overall, I think that’s a that’s a good message. Obviously, I think that trying to save people who are thinking of killing themselves, is part of the reason why I’m a counselor. I don’t want people to do that. I want people to have hope. So.

Overall, my issue is not with the billboard itself. I think the billboard did a fine job of its messaging. And again, if you don’t know about 9 -8 -8, please think of that, put that in your phone, tell family members, if you know anybody that’s struggling, that is a very useful service. So by and large, my issue is not with the billboard. My issue is more so with the culture and the understanding behind that of you having a story to tell.

So you may be thinking here like, Johnny, what’s the problem with that? Don’t you think people have a story to tell? And yes, I do. Stories are really important. We all have a story. We have an origin story of our birth. We always kind of hear, I remember growing up hearing of the date of my birth. It was a nice bright sunny day in February, like 70-something degrees. And then a week or so later, there was a…

Blizzard, it was like seven, or eight inches of snow or whatever. I didn’t do anything in that. I was just bored. but that origin story is a part of my life. It’s, it’s a part of my life story. We all have stories to tell and we need to make stories and listen to stories. Yes, that’s good. My issue with the mindset is sometimes we have a mindset in the culture that.

We have to make the story ourselves. It’s all on our own ability to make a difference in the world. We’re going to change the world. We’re going to make things better in the world. And yes, we are called to make things, to create things, to work hard. Like, yes, that’s all good. But it’s not because of our story. It’s not because of our works. It’s not because of how great we are. It’s because of how great God is.

Johnny Sanders (04:57)

And I want to signify here that this is actually good for us to realize that it’s not about us making a big name for ourselves and make this huge, great story. It’s about being faithful to the story that God has made for us to be obedient to that. And that actually takes a lot of that pressure off of us. When you think of somebody who is suicidal, now obviously a very big topic, they often feel helpless. They feel like there is no hope.

There’s nothing they can do. And sometimes that is because of the large amount of pressure on their life. We’ve seen this and different financial crises, suicide numbers went up during the great recession, you know, a decade and a half ago or whatever. There’s a lot of pressure on people that maybe they’re financially well off and now their savings are gone. So what am I going to do? I lost all of this, so much pressure.

We need to realize that, hey, the pressure is not as much on us. In fact, we can’t do it all on our own. And the fact of the matter is, our story alone of what we can do on our own isn’t enough. And again, I don’t mean that in a, hey, you should just give up. No, it’s we need to look for the significance of our life. Does not come from us. Doesn’t come from who we are, from our own abilities. It comes from.

Who created us, who made the story for us. So let’s look through a few verses here to give a little bit more context into this. Let’s start with Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Look there, we are his workmanship with it, which that alone is incredible. That’s the

God of the universe that we are created in as workmanship. That’s a big deal. If you think about how proud you are of your kids, or maybe something that says workmanship, maybe you made a bench or a table or something, you’re proud of that. We are God’s workmanship. You’re going to tell me your life doesn’t matter? Yes, it does. Not because of you, but because of who made you. That matters. And again, we’re made in…

Johnny Sanders (07:22)

creating Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. God prepared them. It’s not about us. It’s not about us recreating the will and doing all these awesome things in our own ability. It’s about living the life that God made for us. See that? See how that takes some of the pressure off of you? You don’t have to do all these incredible things. You just have to be obedient to the way God made us.

What God has planned for us. Let’s look at another verse. Proverbs 16:9, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Again, man cannot do this all on his own. Our wisdom only goes so far. The Lord establishes our steps. He makes things available for us. Let’s look at another verse here. Psalm 138:8, “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me.

Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.” Again, the Lord will fulfill His purpose for me. Let that sink into you to realize the pressure is not all on you. Let God be God here and allow Him to use you in His ways and not for you to put all the pressure on yourself.

Now I do want to give a couple of other verses if you are struggling maybe with your thoughts towards yourself or your mental well-being, maybe you’ve experienced suicidal thoughts in your life or have a loved one that has struggled with that, let’s look at a couple verses that maybe help, will help ease your mind just ever so slightly. Let’s look at Psalm 34: 18, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

I love this verse. My kids, we have these CDs that are called Seeds Family Worship. If you’ve not heard of them, I would highly encourage you to look them up. They do all sorts of like kids type of songs. But instead of them just being like super corny types of songs, they’re simply just scripture. And they sing different verses. And this is one of them that we frequently listen to. And I love…

Johnny Sanders (09:46)

that again, the Lord is near to the brokenhearted, which saves the Christian spirit. So when you’re down, when you’re feeling crushed, when you’re having a really rough day, I know it’s not easy to be in that position, but have trust, have faith that God is nearby you during those times. And know that that suffering, that anguish that you’re going through is not for zero purpose. You may not know that purpose,

but having that trust, having that faith that the Lord is near you during that time. Also another great couple of verses here, Matthew 11:28 through 30. “Come to me all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and ye will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Again.

Incredible words from Jesus Christ himself there. I Pray that you hear these verses and Not just say all right. Yep. I heard these verses. My life is perfect. No, no big deal No, but that you would go to Scripture and read it again and again and again Maybe find other Psalms or Proverbs or other verses and the New Testament as well that give you that encouragement but I Pray that you take these

Verses you take this concept of mental health of suicidality and have faith in Christ that he has a plan for you It’s not about you making a plan. It’s not about your story how great you can make yourself But how great God is and you can be alongside with him. He has a purpose for you You are his workmanship. That’s incredible. It’s not about you. It’s not about how great you can be It’s about how great God is and he created you

to do good works alongside the rest of his creation out there. I pray that that gives you rest and gives you health.