Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Roger will respond in as timely a manner as possible. Due to the large volume of questions, patience is requested. When questions involve mental health issues, no part of any response to an “Ask Roger” question should be interpreted as a substitute for professional counseling from a licensed mental health professional. Email him your questions at email@example.com.
I have been more miserable as a devout Christian. I do not enjoy life following the things I am taught at church. I mostly feel judged and pressured to be what I am not. I do not want to disappoint God so I have come to realize that I would rather die soon and skip to living in heaven. How do I pray for God to end my life on this earth?
No part of this response should be interpreted as being a substitute for professional counseling from a licensed mental health professional. Most counties in the United States have many licensed Christian-based counselors with whom you can contract. If you are dealing with suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
I am so sorry that you are going through such a hard season of heartache and discouragement. We know we live in a fallen world, or in a world of “tribulation,” as Jesus said. And it’s so hard to anticipate or comprehend the impact of this fallen world on the lives of the very people He loves the most: those who are devoted to Him, as you must be, because you are a devout Christian.
I have several thoughts and suggestions I think will increase your hope until God changes the season you’re in. One thing that strikes me about your inquiry is that what you are being taught at church is making you feel judged and pressured.
Following Jesus offers the freedom of conviction, not the lie of condemnation.
I don’t know what kind of a church you are in. I hope its pastors are accurately teaching the word of God. Perhaps, they are not, as your email seems to imply. Without attending there myself, I cannot be sure.
Fortunately, although we know that church attendance at a church with loving pastors who preach the word of God is valuable for many reasons, we can and should follow Jesus Himself. We follow Jesus first. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me all you that labor and our heavy laden.” (KJV)
When I preach, I ask the Lord to take my words and fashion them through the Spirit to speak to people in individual ways that are helpful to them. If anyone is in sin, as you probably know, God’s word will convict that person of the wrongness of any particular sin.
This conviction leads to repentance and to a sense of freedom! The opposite is true of condemnation.
It’s a hard lesson to learn (or habit to acquire) to look to Jesus, personally, rather than to look to a human being who may mean well but is binding people up with do’s and don’ts.
I don’t know if the pastors are doing this to you by twisting the word of God (or by taking scriptures out of context or by some other means), or if your interpretations of what they’re saying are inaccurate (your email is too short to know).
You can be assured that God’s love is unconditional, and He would never lead you into condemnation.
You are probably familiar with Romans 8:1 that says there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. There’s no condemnation to you, Geraldine! God has clothed you with a robe of righteousness and a garment of salvation and some day you will see it, feel it, and you will wear it proudly.
But God would want you to wait for his timing to don the robe and the garment in a tangible way in the heavenly realm. If, indeed, the pastors are preaching condemnation, that’s not a healthy church to attend.
I must remind myself many times throughout the day to get my eyes off myself, my faults, my many problems – even from the negativity of others – and, instead, get my eyes on God! How do I do this? By meditating on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, anything that is excellent and anything that is worthy of praise. You probably know that this is Paul’s strong advice in Philippians 4:8.
Geraldine, you have said that you are a devout Christian. Therefore, you are a sheep, a bought and paid for member of the body of Christ. Jesus paid an incredible price to purchase your salvation. Jesus says that His sheep hear his voice and follow Him.
God wants you to hear His voice.
God doesn’t want you to hear the voice of the enemy of your soul, or even the voice of a well-meaning person who judges and puts pressure on you.
When I pray for people throughout the week, I pray that God will speak to them often – that He will give them gentle nudges, that He will help them to think His thoughts and speak His words. Jesus is the embodiment of grace and truth, and so are His words!
When I counsel with folks, I pray with them that they will hear more than my words and that God will use the counseling session to speak to them, personally.
I don’t know a better way to become continually open to hearing God’s voice than to meditate on His word. When Jesus, our role model, was tempted in the wilderness after 40 days of fasting, He answered Satan’s deceptive words with passages of scripture.
Similarly, we must speak truth to lies.
For example, we must tell Satan that God won’t let us be tempted beyond our strength but will provide a way of escape from present difficulties. We must confess the truth that though we fall, He will not let us be “utterly cast down.”
We must confess that the eternal God is our refuge and that underneath us, His everlasting arms go much deeper than our hurt.
His everlasting arms never go away and, in His timing, He will always lift us up! When I confess such truths, I usually say them in ways that are prayers. For example, I say, “Lord, you say that I won’t be utterly cast down. I confess that as the truth, and I pray you will not let me be utterly cast down!”
Like you, I also want to be with the Lord in paradise! The Apostle Paul wanted to be with the Lord! However, we know that Paul knew that God’s plan for him was that he would linger for a little longer on earth in order to fulfill God’s plan for his life.
Had he taken his life, he would not have spoken before Caesar, which was the probable cause of many of Caesar’s household giving their lives to Christ. I’m certain those folks were quite grateful to be saved all because Paul did not take his own life.
While you live on this earth, it’s impossible to know how even a single prayer may change someone, perhaps save someone’s life, or how it may even change the world. We also won’t know until we stand before Him how a word or act of kindness might have helped someone at just the right time. We also have no way of knowing how our absence would probably impact the world in a negative sense, either. Only God knows such things. So, we know that it is never God’s plan to take our own life.
Do you want to know the best and quickest way to see God?
It’s to say something like this to God: “God, my life belongs to you. You even sent your only Son into the world to die for me. I do not take Christ’s sacrifice lightly. I want to live for you every moment of the day and night. I know that with your help, I can make it through this difficult season and come to know You in a deeper way than I thought was possible. I love you so much – even when I don’t feel it – that rather than attempting to go to you whenI want to, I will wait to go to you when you want me to and when you take me to my eternal home. In the meantime, because I am totally devoted to You, I want You to use my life here on earth right now! Because I am totally devoted to You, I will wait on your direction and be sensitive to your gentle promptings to more fully know how to help Your kingdom be established on this earth.”
If you pray like this, I believe you will see God more clearly through your spiritual eyes and you will never regret hanging in there one day at a time.
Daniel 2:21 says that God “changes times and seasons.” I believe that it is inevitable that if you adopt the attitude of fully abandoning yourself to God – and not to the church – that you will eventually enter into a meaningful and deeply joyous season.
You said in your email, “How do I pray for God to end my life on this earth?”
Geraldine, no matter how you pray for this, I believe His answer will be something along the lines of, “I love you so much, Geraldine. I hurt with and for you. I will never let you out of my sight. I will yet be faithful to you. Rather than take your own life, give it to Me right now and forever!”
For the sake of God’s kingdom, please pray the prayer I’ve suggested and wait for God’s will to be accomplished in your full life span.
Here are some practical suggestions:
- Most importantly, seek out a Christian-based counselor who is licensed and knows the Lord deeply. This person should be skilled at helping people who are so discouraged that they might consider ending their lives here on earth. If you are dealing with suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
- Confide in at least one friend who can listen to you and pray for you. This person needs to be a sensitive person who knows the Lord, knows His word, will speak only wisdom to you...and will not make you feel condemned.
- Go to Google images and type scriptures that are your favorites. You’ll find beautiful images with scriptures written on them. Meditate on them. Get these pictures into your mind and spirit, along with the scriptures.
- Listen to contemporary Christian music, or the famous hymns of years gone by, that contain words of truth. Keep in mind that the authors of many, if not most of these songs, have gone through grueling struggles.
- Meditate on any answers to prayer you’ve ever had or on any miracles you’ve ever witnessed or heard spoken of by trusted sources. God wants us to meditate on His miracles.
Here are some good scriptures for you to meditate on throughout the day, Geraldine:
Philippians 1:23-24 – Paul wanted to depart and be with the Lord, but he knew it was more necessary to remain on the earth.
Psalm 25:5 – God wants our hope to be in Him all day long. If it is, verse three says He will not let us down.
Isaiah 63:9 – When we hurt, God hurts, and He wants His angels to carry us through times of difficulty.
Deuteronomy 33:27 – God’s everlasting arms are always underneath us.
Psalm 94:18-19 – When we are slipping, His love will support us.
Isaiah 49:15 – God promises He will not forget us!
1 Corinthians 10:13 – God will not let us have more than we can handle, but trusting Him, He will provide a way of escape.
Psalm 37:24 (KJV) – God will not let us be “utterly cast down.”
Psalm 46:10 – Be still and know that He is God!
1 Thessalonians 2:13 – God’s word is at work in those who believe. I believe that if God’s word lives in you, if you meditate on it continually, it changes you to be more like Him...even while you’re sleeping!
God bless you, Geraldine. I will be praying for you!
Dr. Roger Barrier retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his thirty-five-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese. His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/tuaindeed