From Womb to Tomb
Marti Wibbels, MS, LMHC
Throughout the world, Job’s story is synonymous with suffering. When his suffering seemed to be at its worst—he’d lost everything, from his livestock to his servants and all of his sons and daughters, he said, Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD (Job 1:21). When Job lost his health, he had no idea his suffering was initiated by Satan, not God. In Job 2:9-10 (NLT), his wife said to him, ‘Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.’ But Job replied, ‘You talk like a foolish woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?’ So in all this, Job said nothing wrong.
By Job 6:14-15, Job lamented, For the despairing man there should be kindness from his friend [but] my brothers have acted deceitfully like a wadi, like the torrents of wadis which vanish (Job 6:14-15). Instead of comfort, Job’s friends brought as little sustenance as a dried-up brook. In the midst of Job’s nightmares, Bildad piously told Job God probably killed his sons because they somehow sinned, then urged Job to focus on his own sins and those of past generations.
How about you? Are your circumstances so bad that you want to say with Job, I should have been as though I had not been, carried from womb to tomb (Job 10:19)? With ongoing ramifications of COVID-19, from the loss of loved ones to job insecurity, to relationship challenges, loneliness, or fear of the future, the suicide rate keeps climbing. Here are some ideas to help you move from wanting to die to planning to live:
- Tell yourself the truth: your life matters! Regardless of messages delivered by people or circumstances, God says you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14, NASB).
- Your life has purpose: Ephesians 2:10 (TPT) explains, We have become his poetry, a recreated people that will fulfill the destiny he has given each of us, for we are joined to Jesus, the Anointed One. Even before we were born, God planned in advance our destiny and the good works we would do to fulfill it!
- God promises to provide for your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19, NASB).
- He sees when you’re suffering and will provide rest for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven (2 Thessalonians 1:7, NLT).
- Be specific, choosing places to go and safe people to be with if thoughts of suicide increase. Have a positive action plan, listing at least three people you can call, three safe places you can go, and three things you can do if suicidal thoughts escalate.
- Listen to soothing music; check the lyrics to be sure they’re encouraging.
- Read the Psalms. For all who struggle to open a Bible: ask yourself whose voice you hear when you try to read God’s Word. Is it the abuser who used the Bible like a “club” to get you to do what he or she wanted? Is it a so-called minister who talked about God the way Job’s unfriendly friends did? You can begin training yourself to hear God speaking in a kind and loving voice, saying, Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28-29). He wants to be your Good Shepherd.
- Find help. Ask a pastor or counselor to help you through this journey. If you know how you plan to kill yourself, go immediately to a hospital or other safe place (don’t go to anyone remotely like Job’s friend Zophar, who told Job, the eyes of the wicked will fail, and there will be no escape for them; and their hope is to breathe their last (Job 11:20). Epic fail, Zophar! Job 42:7 describes God reprimanding Job’s so-called friends.
- Stay away from hope stealers! Instead, go to God, the hope Giver. God's readiness to give and forgive is now public. Salvation's available for everyone! We're being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life. This new life is starting right now, and is whetting our appetites for the glorious day when our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, appears. He offered himself as a sacrifice to free us from a dark, rebellious life into this good, pure life, making us a people he can be proud of, energetic in goodness. (Titus 2:11-14, MSG).
- Live in the love of God the Father. Hebrews 10:19-25 (MSG) explains how: So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into ‘the Holy Place.’ Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The ‘curtain’ into God's presence is his body. So let's do it—full of belief, confident that we're presentable inside and out. Let's keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let's see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.
When Elijah felt alone in the wilderness of Cherith (see 1 Kings 17), he learned to rely on God rather than human feelings of despair. When we have nothing, God can provide, even via a raven like the one who flew-in twice daily with Elijah’s meals. If our source of water dries up, like the wadis Job described or the brook in Cherith, God will lead us where we need to go.
Choosing to trust God silences our fears. With a dried-up water supply at Cherith, God directed Elijah to Zarephath, another place experiencing famine. The town's name actually means “refining.” We don’t understand why God sent Elijah to this pagan culture, but you can read 1 Kings 18 to see how much he already hated idol worship. Adding to his discomfort, Zarephath was the hometown of Elijah’s nemesis, Queen Jezebel. She wanted Elijah dead, but God wanted him alive, accomplishing His purposes. And God won!
God has won the victory for you, too. It is safe to trust Him, wherever you are in your life’s journey. Just as God saw the needs of Elijah and Job, He sees your needs. He never fails. Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams] —To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen (so be it) (Ephesians 3:20-21, AMP).