Have you ever wanted to commit suicide to escape from your future? I couldn’t count how many times I have longed for death rather than the constant dread of tomorrow. Fortunately, I was not created with the guts to take my own life, no matter how desperately I might wish to.
One of the many fears that have driven me to suicidal contemplations is that of adulthood. The way I see it, just about half the world’s population of teenagers are dying to be adults, and the other half are wishing they could die to avoid it. But it’s not that I don’t want to be a mature, useful, and responsible human being—I just wish I didn’t have to deal with all the trauma that comes with learning how to be an adult in the city.
I was raised in a village next door to nowhere. I didn’t get my first phone till I was 17. Electricity was a privilege, not a right. My dad would fly to the capital to do our shopping every two to four months, the family going with him only for emergencies like babies and passport renewals. We rarely saw the inside of a restaurant. Then suddenly I have turned 19 and must leave my family behind as I am transplanted to an American metropolis to go to Bible college. Suddenly I am expected to be able to drive a car, navigate a city, order my own meals and manage a bank account, none of which I had ever had the opportunity to be exposed to. Is it any wonder I feel thrust into an endless labyrinth, bound and blindfolded? At every turn, the shrieking voices of fear and failure threaten to drown out any whisper of hope I happen to find.
Others have heard these voices before. David, in Psalm 55, says, “I mourn in my complaint, and make a noise; Because of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked: for they cast iniquity upon me, and in wrath they hate me.” He apparently felt a deathly depression too: “My heart is sore pained within me: and the terrors of death are fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me.” He, too, longed for escape. “And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest. Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. Selah. I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.”
David experienced the crippling taunts of inadequacy. He was swallowed up in the darkness of despair. I think I know how he felt, wishing to be back tending sheep in the wilderness rather than be snared in the myriad webs of political intrigue, jealousy-crazed kings, and false companions. Things were so much simpler as a youth.
But maybe he remembered another psalm he had written, Psalm 31:15 as we know it. “My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.” Perhaps David reminded himself that God held his life, his times, his beginning and ending and everything in between. God had put him where he was for a reason. I think that’s why David’s mood shifts abruptly to these verses in Psalm 55: “As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me. Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice. He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me…”
From what I have read in the book of Psalms, this shift from despair to hope is a common trait in the psalms written by David. They are almost like diary entries—heated outpourings of anguish or indignation that eventually peter into hope in God’s goodness and resignation of the right to revenge. What generally starts out as a rant turns into rest as he is reminded of the Lord’s control of every situation, the Lord’s faithfulness to deliver him in the past.
And there I, like David, find hope to continue. This isn’t my battle. This isn’t my life to stress over. It has always belonged to the God who created me. He controls my past, present, and future, and it is from Him that I ought to be receiving peace. Not the peace of a lack of physical struggle, but of a lack of internal struggle.
I know I cannot learn to be a successful adult on my own—it is God who makes me to prosper. In this storm of inadequacy and insecurity, the place I should run for refuge is God’s strength, not suicide. 2 Corinthians 12:9 “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
I do not have the wisdom to order each step of this strange new life. But God does. I do not have the strength to be someone I have never had to be. But God does. I cannot escape adulthood by taking the wings of a dove and wandering afar off to a wilderness where no driving tests, bank balances, or conversations with strangers could ever penetrate. What I can do is choose to mount up with wings as eagles and allow God to work in me as I walk this path one step at a time. Isaiah 40:31 “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
When I change my will to God’s will, my peace to His peace, my strength to His strength, I am finding my hope in the words David also found courage to say: “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”