17 Feb

By Khutso Mokgele

A scary night it was. 

He was woken up by a sudden earthquake. The prison foundation was shaken, prison doors opened, and the chains had fallen off the prisoners. What was next? If the prisoners have escaped, there was nothing more the jailer was living for. 

The next day would mean facing the council, governors and religious leaders explaining to them that an earthquake happened while he slept. The story was unbelievable that the only logic thing for the jailer to do at that time was to end his life and save himself from the humiliation and punishment that would result from this unfortunate situation. 

Sounds dramatic you might think. Why would someone consider taking their lives instead of just facing the law and get it over and done with. "He should think about his family and friends first and foremost, how can he be so selfish", you might reason.

The truth is, that is how most of as Christians respond to people who are going through depression and are suicidal. You just don't understand, and I guess it is justifiable not to understand if you have never been in that situation.

However, I am intrigued by Paul's wisdom, I want us to let go of what we think, know and how we desire to respnd, but rather het inspiration from Paul. 

If you are familiar with the bible, you would know the Paul was one of the men who had a lot to say about Christ, heaven, holiness, church, lifestyle and more. You would also know that Paul called a spade, a spade. He was brutally honest, he took no-nonsense, and he dishes out the raw truth that can be so offensive at times. 

However, when the jailer was about kill himself, we see the softer side of Paul as he shouts, 'Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!'" Acts 16:28

What happened? Why did Paul not say, 'you foolish jailer, who has bewitched you?'. That sounds more like what Paul would normally say. Right? Paul had wisdom; he knew what to say and when. At a time when the jailer had lost hope, thought he was alone, and thought that his life had ended, Paul reminded him that they were all there!

People who suffer from depression can be suicidal at times. Suicide is murder and we know that that is sin, however, depression is mental disorder, during a depression outbreak, nothing makes sense to the sufferer, often time, even little issues are being exaggerated, that suicide often seems like a real way out to many. 

The frustration of having to deal with someone is also reality, so feeling tired about the situation is also normal, so don't beat yourself up. Let us learn from Paul though. At that fragile moment, your friend, your mom, your sister, your cousin does not need a rebuke, they need to be reminded that "we are all here".

It is through the calmness of our voice that we are able to bring depressed people to life, it is by sharing the gospel that we are able to set them free from that bondage. 

The jailer got saved that evening, not just him but his family too the bible says he was filled with joy! 

It took the Apostle Paul saying what was necessary and needful at that time.

Let's be wise to read the situation, the bible says we must make use of every opportunity to do good (Ephesians 5:16). Yes, even at that moment of dealing with a suicidal person, take that opportunity to do good. 

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