Life, Death and Other Ruminations (Thoughts On Suicide & Depression)

Okay, it’s Write Tips day, I know. Mondays I always post them. But this week I don’t have one ready, and part of the reason is that I just can’t get suicide off my mind. I got news yesterday that takes me back to a dark time in my own life.

When I was in my teens, I once sat with my dad’s Army reserve pistol in my mouth, aching to pull the trigger. The barrel was cold against my lips, the gun heavy–it shot .22 caliber but weighed like a .55 (he was a military doctor and didn’t need or want real firepower). I’d loaded it, because I had done so many times using it for target practice in the fields on my Grandpa’s old farm. I don’t remember why I didn’t want to live. I just remember wanting the pain to stop–pain of rejection, not fitting in, no one understanding me, feeling so alone. I also remember picturing pieces of my head all over the wall and my mom’s face as she had to kneel down and clean it up. (She probably wouldn’t have had to do it herself but that never occured to me.) I just couldn’t do that to her, so I put the gun away and left their room and went on to live another day.

Since that time I’ve toyed with the idea a couple times when I was depressed or down, but never seriously thought of suicide again. Not to the point of acting on it or even planning it. But a high school classmate’s older brother, who was a family friend, killed himself when we were in high school. He ate a shotgun in a Kansas field, and so I can’t help, as I watch another family go through this nightmare, thinking about that day and wondering what was in my friend, Todd’s, mind all those years ago, which made him pass that point of no return.

Most people have a really hard time understanding suicide. Most people just don’t get why anyone would do it. Oh they joke about people who had nothing to live for or this and that, but when it really comes down to it, they just can’t imagine. But for those of us who have had serious depression, it’s easier to contemplate. Because being in that deep, dark place is a very dangerous place to be and it feeds on itself in its attempts to defeat you. No one’s told me the specific circumstances of my latest friend’s actual death, but he had to have been depressed. Happy people don’t take their lives. Happy people have hope. Deeply depressed people couldn’t find hope if it stared them in the face.

How is this possible?

Depression is such a deep darkness and sadness that literally it’s impossible to believe at the time that you could ever get out. God can’t even reach you there, and, if you believe in a God who’s everywhere, that’s devastating. People may know you’re down and say encouraging things but they just bounce off the surface, never sinking in. Because people always do that for those they care about but you know the truth of your own real patheticness and worthlessness. They’re just being kind but you know they can see. Your life isn’t worth a thing and you’re just a burden one everyone. Eventually you reach a point of such anger at yourself for wasting everyone’s time and emotions and energy on your worthless self that, frankly, relieving them of the burden seems the only kind thing you can do. Enter suicide.

Most people don’t want to be a burden. Especially to those we love. Even if we don’t really believe they can truly love us or understand why. We don’t want that delusion to be a burden so it’s our fault for deceiving them or sucking up all that energy and if we die, they’ll be better off. Oh it may hurt in the short run, but they’ll eventually realize we were holding them down and be so glad we’re gone. So relieved the burden is over.

Sounds nuts? Well, it’s not right thinking. But that is somewhat what it’s like to be depressed and suicidal. It’s hard to explain to someone who’s never lived it. In any case, it’s truly a tragedy when someone goes there and doesn’t find the way out.

The M*A*S*H* theme song went: “Suicide is painless. It brings on many changes. And I can take or leave it if I please.” But the song is, frankly, entirely bullshit. Suicide is not painless and you either take it or you don’t. It’s final. It’s permanent. And the changes mostly come for the pained people you leave behind. Most families live with that pain the rest of their lives. Parents may divorce after the suicide of a child. The burden is just too much to bear and they wind up taking it out on each other. Siblings may follow in the suicidal footsteps, especially if one is close to the dead sibling. Or they may engage in other dangerous behaviors from drinking to promiscuous sex, etc. Whatever the details, suicide absolutely is NOT painless. It’s devastating. It’s not a gift to a family. It’s one of the most selfish, cruel acts known to man. Killing one’s self is never the right thing for anyone but you. And only in your mind is it right for you.

It’s so sad to think about anyone taking their lives, but especially the two young people I have known. The tragedy of a life cut short. A lost hope for victim and all who loved them. A lost future. A waste.

So my thoughts are on suicide and life and death and depression today. Don’t worry. I’m not suicidal. I’m just grieving the broken world in which such destruction of lives happens way too often to way too many good people.

If you have loved ones, give them a hug today. Tell them you love them. Tell them how much you look forward to every day with them and to the future, whatever comes, with them in it. Then think about my friends and their families and say a prayer. Both for comfort for them and for the blessings you have. None of us really deserve them. Whether you believe they’re from God or in God or not. Take the time to do this. Because life is precious and every moment counts.

For what it’s worth…

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. His second novel, The Returning, is forthcoming from Diminished Media Group in 2012. He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chatevery Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.‎

4 5-star & 11 4-star reviews THE WORKER PRINCE $3.99 Kindle or Nook $14.99 tpb


18-Month Do-Over

Have you ever wished you could have a do-over?  Go back and undo something you did, however large or small, and just make different choices?  It’s something we used to holler as kids “Do-over!”  Now here I am as a 41-year-old adult feeling the same way.  If I could go back and redo the past 18 or 20 months and make different choices how would life be for us?  How much of the present trouble could we have avoided?

We couldn’t likely have avoided my wife’s medical crisis.  Signs of that impending issue were evident months before we moved.  It would have been dealt with differently in some ways, but much of that issue would have been faced the same as here except for a closer network of family and friends to provide support.

We probably would have yet to live in a house, which changed our perspective on housing forever.  We just adored it.

The restlessness and stagnation of life we felt before we left St. Louis might be worse.

I might well have still lost my job at the unnamed company I telecommuted for. 

We’d still be in Saint Louis for one thing.  And having lived there for 9 years, the support system we’ve found there is wider and deeper in many ways than anything we’ve had time to establish here locally.

We wouldn’t have our beloved dog Amélie or cat Doce, whom we adopted from shelters in El Paso.

There are people here we care about whom we wouldn’t know.

And there were some classes I taught in Juarez I wouldn’t have been able to teach.

Overall, though I still wonder what would life be like?  Would I be unemployed?

Would I have written the two novels and dozens of short stories I’ve written?

Would I have made all my Twitter friends?

Would I have gone to the conventions I attended?

I would not have had the stress my challenging part time position has brought to my life.  There are benefits of experience as well as some songs I wrote through that which might not exist, but I do think our life could have been just fine without that stress.  The only thing is, again, I met some fine people whom I think the world of and wouldn’t have had the chance to know without that.  Those would be a loss.

It’s hard to say, looking at all of this, if I’d really do it or not.  I think I’d make a few different choices, and I think I’d put my foot down stronger in some ways and places also.

For one, the friends who never called us at all despite all our difficulties, never offered help or encouragement, whom we only heard from to criticize us for something they found disturbing in a FB post or blog, etc., well, I’d stop thinking of them as friends.

For two, I’d stand up more firmly to both recently employers far sooner about issues which ultimately backfired by getting fingers pointed at me undeservedly.

For three, I would have made sure my wife got to do some fun things she’s wanted to do since we came which I never made time for and we now can’t afford.

I wouldn’t stop being honest about the troubles because I’ve heard from many who face similar situations whom it has helped and I’ve heard also it helps those who haven’t been through such situations to empathize more with those who have.  Empathy is a very good thing.

I wouldn’t stop using Facebook and Twitter to mention things I find ludicrous.  Even things from my daily life or relationships.  That’s what those are for.  And commiserating with those people has been a true pleasure and support.  I wouldn’t change some of the friendships I’ve made, although I might have considered them at different levels than I had been thinking they were (so they’ve proven to be).

So would I really want a Do-Over?  On specific bits and pieces, yet, but overall, probably not.  After all, how could I live without my Amélie and Doce?  And not without the true friends I’ve found along the way.  Sometimes I just wish there were more of them.

For what it’s worth…

Special Request For Help

Dear Friends:
Some of you have been praying for me or at least are aware that as of next week I will have been unemployed 6 months.  As of Sunday, my part time job also is going away.  They wanted someone permanent not someone who might well need to take off.  So I am going to be in real financial straits until something comes through.
I have written a little book which is getting really good reviews (see below for examples), but hasn’t taken off yet in sales.  I need money to keep going and people of all sexes and ages from 9 to 65 have enjoyed this book.  It’s not Christian in focus but has some Christian characters.  Even non-SF fans have enjoyed it.  It’s short with small 4 to 5 page chapters (each episodes of a larger story).  It makes great Christmas gifts.  Please consider buying a copy today. 
I don’t like being pushy so this is my one and only request.  But you’ll be helping our food and rent budgets a ton, and you’ll enjoy it, I promise.   It’s light escapism.
If you’d rather have one of my music CDs, I have tons of those available to.  The book is $7.49 plus shipping.  CDs are $13 each.  You can get a discount and get the book for $5.50 plus shipping.  If we can sell 125 copies (the current on hand stock), you will be helping with $687.50, 75% of our rent.

To buy the book, please go to and click the BUYNOW button on that page or here.  It will be up and functional with the new price by tomorrow.  If you want CDs instead, email me and I’ll work that out.
Thanks for your friendship and support.  Here’s some reviews to wet your appetite.
Description: Ellen Maze
May 12, 2010
Ellen Maze rated it Description: 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: star trek fans, space opera fans, all ages
Shelves: books-to-review
Captain Janaai Resnick has her hands full in this first installment of the North Star Serial. Not only does she have to prove herself to her crew, but also as soon as they head out, she must prove herself a capable leader when the ship is attacked by the Korelean threat.

Author Bryan Thomas Schmidt creates for us a likable and believable female lead that is supported by a cast as three-dimensional as those at the helm of the Star Trek series. With snappy dialogue and genre-correct technology, I think anyone who enjoys the space opera will put this one at the top of their list. I don’t usually read this genre, and I was pleasantly surprised at how fun it was.

As a bonus, at the end of this tale, Schmidt includes novel excerpts from a couple of his upcoming works, THE WORKER PRINCE and SANDMAN.

Ellen C Maze
Author of Curiously Spiritual Vampire Tales
Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider (less)

Description: Chad
May 27, 2010
Chad rated it Description: 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: first-reads
I really liked Part I of the North Star Serial. I am looking forward to further adventures of CAPT Janaai Resnick and her crew against the Korelean forces. This is a good sci-fi book that keeps the unnecessary subjects of sex and vulgar language out of the space battle storyline. The book is clean, wholesome fun that I know my 10-year old son will really enjoy and he is one of those that does not like to read.

The Koreleans have a deep hatred for Christians who have colonized the galaxy after escaping persecution on Earth. CAPT Resnick has just been given command of NORTH STAR, a destroyer in the Coalition Command fleet. While on her first assignment she comes into contact with Koreleans forces and thus the war begins. Many themes are at play here and the storyline is solid. I want to follow the story a find out what happens to the entire crew in future parts of The North Star Serial.

I also really enjoyed the excerpts from both The Worker Prince and Sandman. I will keep my eyes open for these novels as I am certin that they reach bookstands

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads giveaway program. Thanks to Bryan for making this book available in the giveaway program. These first 13 NORTH STAR Serial stories are the start of a great adventure! (less)

Ruminations on a Fresh Start

Okay, took a little hiatus after the last post, for obvious reasons.  I am feeling better, although life isn’t.  In two weeks, I will be totally unemployed, and although neither of my recent employers will go down on my list as pleasurable memories in most ways, co-workers and others will be missed.  We do feel ready for a fresh start, however, and I am hoping that begins with a book contract.

Yet a third small press is now reading “The Worker Prince,” and their first comment was “You write really well.”  Makes me feel good, of course.  They loved the opening and said it sucked them right in, which is exactly what I wanted, so I am hoping they love the rest of it as much.  It would be good to have some options on this thing, especially since it’s my first and smell presses and will require a big commitment on all of our parts to make it a success.

Another part of the fresh start will be attending two trips.  I leave tomorrow for Phoenix to attend Christian Musician’s Summit Southwest, a conference I tried to attend twice last year and had to cancel due to my wife’s illness.  I have dreamed of attending for several years, so it seems I will finally get to do that.  A lot of big name worship leaders and musicians will be there offering the chance for me to attend 8 classes, some keynote speeches, and a couple of concerts.  It will be a nice break from the mundane routine.

On the 28th, I am off to Columbus, Ohio for World Fantasy Convention, my second speculative fiction convention ever, and my first Worldcon.  I am quite excited to meet so many friends from Twitter, Facebook, etc. as well as attend lots of learning sessions, get books singed by known authors, and hopefully meet lots of other authors, agents, publishers, etc.  My old friend Eric Reynolds of Hadley Rille will be there, as will Mike Resnick and Blake Charlton, Christie Yant, Sandra Wickham, John Remy, Erika Holt, and Moises Siregar.  It will be a great chance to solidify online friendships and to be with people who are pursuing and living the same dreams I am as a writer.  I also look forward to seeing Columbus again, as I had visited there years ago on my music touring.

With the church Music Director job ending, we will also be seeking a new church home, which, along with the new job I hope materializes soon, should also make for a fresh start.

Lots of opportunities for new experiences here, and I hope to get back on and finish the First Draft of “Sandman,” my epic fantasy, in the next week also, so that I can start a new book as part of National Novel Writing Month in November.  It will be good to have a push like that to get back on track with the writing.

Meanwhile, it has been good to have a break from Tangent stuff to work on reading for fun.  I am about to finish the last Majipoor book at long last (fighting tears — these books are so fantastic) and will soon read “Windup Girl,” “Boneshaker,” and several others I have lined up and waiting.  Since starting at Tangent, reading for fun has been something I had little time for and I have been bummed to fall so far behind on this huge backlog.  Glad to get a little chance to catch up.

Well, that’s the latest.  I’ll try and write another writing cue photo post and writer’s tip soon as well.  Thanks for stopping by.

For what it’s worth…

Living Inside Depression

It’s been a hard decision whether or not to blog about this.

First, I wonder if anyone cares?  Does anyone even read this blog?  I rarely ever get comments.  I am running a sale on my book for the first 15 who comment on my last entry, and after two days, I have 1 comment.  Most of the other posts have no comments. So it’s obviously not high traffic.

Second of all, writing about depression is depressing. Who wants to read that?

Third, this is my author blog.  Most people who come here probably would rather hear about books, writing, etc, not this stuff.  Although my whole life is wrapped up in this current state, still, it’s personal.  Do people want to know that much?

I finally decided I’ll blog about it because writing is therapeutic for me.  And because I have spent a good portion of my life doing everything I can to serve and help others, maybe a glimpse inside the mind of a depressed person will help someone else somehow.

We recently were forced to give up a home we had hoped to purchase and moved back to a town home.  For 15 months, we lived in a house.  I had not lived in a house since leaving my parents’ home.  Bianca had not lived in an apartment until she married me.  The difference in housing types is night and day and we much prefer the house.  Privacy, space, personalization — the advantages are numerous, but ultimately, it just fits us better.  Now, my part time music ministry job is going away as well, and the options out there are retail at 41 years old, a place I never wanted to return to and which, frankly, pays 1 third of what I have been making and what, up to may, we were used to living on.  Because of the debt load we carry, in part due to medical expenses, in part due to living stupidly beyond our means, taking a retail job at such low pay will require me to work tons of hours to make up for the loss of the part time job income of $1200 a month.  If I work more than 29 hours, I lose my welfare of $880.  So instead of having $2080, I will be providing $1250 or so for us to live on.  We cannot live on that.  I am told I do not qualify for the Federal Unemployment extension because I have “marketable skills,” although how you can label something as marketable which no one seems to want is beyond me.

Since being laid off from my lousy last employer in May I have applied for 500 some jobs (rough guess).  I have done 1 in person interview and 3 phone interviews.  I have worked hard on my resume, now in its 9th draft since May, consulting professional sites, advisors, etc.  In fact, I imagine I have spent close to $800 trying to get employed which increased out debt, but the economy is awful, don’t let the Obama lies fool you, and it’s not getting any better.  My Texas Workforce advisor says most people are taking over a year to find jobs.  Every time I hear or think about that, I wonder how we will survive?  We already are facing potential bankruptcy.  I am ashamed of being such a failure.  I am angry that I have spent 41 years and have no career path, making my job search harder.  The fact that I dedicated much of those years to missions and nonprofit work doesn’t seem to matter.  I look like an unstable employee who floated around freelance and never held a job.  That says nothing about my real dedication, effort and capabilities.  It also sucks to not be able to do what you love.

My part time job was supposed to be that.  Church music ministry.  I have been writing and performing songs all my life.  Finally to get paid to do it.  And to lead people into relationship with God, which I love and is a real humbling honor and privilege.  WOW!   But instead, I found myself working for a man who micromanages to the finest detail, doesn’t seem to trust anyone but himself, and, despite my 15 year track record, treated me like I just fell off a turnip truck.  People with no experience and less qualified education are allowed to do things I’ve been doing for 15 years but am not allowed to do at that church.  And despite the fact my worship team are amazing people, whom I adore, it has been a humiliating, hurtful experience with no opportunity for personal and professional growth.  Attempts to discuss this with the boss were met with cold ears and a “my way or the highway attitude.”  Here’s a man who preaches mercy, acknowledging sin, and apologies but has not practiced that toward my wife and I.  Anything we do to offend him, an apology is demanded, yet in 16 months, I don’t recall ever hearing one back.  The wounds we carry for it are deep.

My full time job at the software vendor whose product I had worked so hard to promote and implement while consulting at a Fortune 500 company for four years, was one of the harder places to work.  One moment they praised you as valuable and like family, the next your job was on the line.  No warning.  I never got regular feedback.  I only heard from them when they had some major issue.  I got very little training and yet was criticized for not doing things the way they wanted them.  They put me into positions with which I had little or no experience and didn’t do anything to help my succeed.  I was on my own.  Then, they laid me off at a time when they knew our struggles financially from a medical crisis my wife had last fall.  They got mad when I told them all of this, demanding I be respectful.  I was hired for technical writing.  Everyone praised my work at that.  It’s where my gifts lie.  Did they really expect they could throw me in unfamiliar territory with no support and I’d be a star?  Wish I could, but it was hard.  They have too few employees for the number of high demanding clients and it’s stressful and you’re expected to know everything.  Since I don’t like to lie and I won’t damage my integrity by pretending to know what I don’t, it’s hard.

So here I am, feeling like a failure.  Wondering why my life sucks so much.  Why was I born?  Why in the world am I supposed to have hope when everything gets worse and worse?  I have not even mentioned some other issues, but, trust me, they are one disaster after another.  Why is it that I am called overqualified and underqualified but can’t seem to find myself qualified?  How am I supposed to feel when I can’t provide for my wife?  When I can’t seem to hold a job?  Or when I get one I have passion for, why does it have to suck?  When I can’t get anyone interested in my “marketable skills?”  Why am I doomed to jobs that are not my passion where I struggle with focus because of ADHD and lack of true passion and end up regarded as unsatisfactory or expendable because of it?  Why was I cursed with ADHD?  Why can’t I do what I love?

I don’t know the answer, and I don’t expect you will either, but I can tell you that when I mentioned to my friend that I was lying here feeling like a worthless lump and he told me to get up and go outside, my response was:  “If I go outside, I’m afraid I won’t stop walking until I reach Interstate 10 two blocks away and throw myself in front of a car.”  Right now, I can’t even find the motivation to do that much.

So, if you want to know how it feels inside depression?  Here’s your glimpse.  Hope you don’t think it’s pretty.  It’s not.  It’s a deep, dark pit where the sun’s rays can’t penetrate and event he Almighty God himself doesn’t have arms long enough to reach.  Welcome to my world.  For what it’s worth…

Life or something like it’s got a hold on me

I am so behind on so many things. I even got behind on applying or jobs, although that had to, by necessity, go back to the top of the list and I am currently caught up. Needless to say, I am behind on blogging as well. I do have some things I want to blog about, including more author tips, but for now, I am just dropping in to say don’t give up on me.

I’m still awaiting offers for the “Worker Prince” space opera trio. One of the publishers is done and putting together the offer. The other is reading the entire manuscript again with both changes they requested and changes I initiated myself and will get back to me.

I am close to finishing the first draft of book 1 in my epic fantasy series as well.

My North Star Serial stories continue running monthly at and can be read there, or on my website as soon as the webmaster updates it (she’s fallen behind).

Beyond that, I have also accepted the position off Assistant Editor, E-zines at Tangent, an award winning fanzine known as the top source for reviews of short fiction. Check it out at I have several reviews posted already: Asimov’s August 2010, Analog November 2010, Mike Resnick’s Blasphemy, and Interzone September-October 2010. Our new format will launch soon and include all the e-zine stuff which I and my dedicated reviewers are working hard on to get ready.

One interesting thing about reviewing is it teaches me to examine stories more critically from a number of different aspects, and that can only help my own self-editing and the editing I do for others. I am also learning a lot about what I don’t like, which is why it has taken me a while to get into short fiction and read some of the magazines I’ve been subscribing two now for over a year and am way behind on. I don’t care at all for slipstream. I like my SF and F much more straight forward. I like sword and sorcery, high fantasy, and I like space opera. I am not impressed by writers who try really hard to invent complicated science and to teach us some moral lesson. I am much more impressed when they actually tell a good, involving story with dynamic, interesting, relatable characters. Those stories draw me in, whether they have complicated science or a moral or not. Perhaps that’s why I tend to worry first about character and plot in my own stories and let the rest of it fall in place where it may.

In any case, my involvement with Tangent will no doubt continue to involve me in the SFF community in new ways and teach me things which will be reflected in my writing, including my musings here. I hope you’ll find that interesting. And I do thank you for reading.

For what it’s worth…

What’s customer service Facebook?

My wife’s account is blocked until she proves who she is. Facebook wants her to text from her cell phone, only texting is turned off on her phone. She never uses it and with me unemployed, we had to cut expenses. So here we are. We try and click the alternate method button but can’t get anything but text.

This is just another example of big companies having no couth about customer service. If I ran my business the way Facebook does, I’d be out of business. When you inconvenience your customers, then you make an impression, and so far, from all my dealings with Facebook, the impression is negative. My wife is so disgusted at their lack of response that she refuses to email again. I emailed but they cannot reveal personal details of another person’s account. I don’t want “personal details,” I want my wife to have an alternate option to get her account verified so she can be on Facebook.

It’s ridiculous how they treat users: not responding to customer service issues. I had a friend who had to start another account because hers was hacked and Facebook wouldn’t respond. So much for her personal info and pics. The guy was chatting and email all of us asking for money. Apparently, that’s okay with Facebook as it is to lock people out of accounts. A friend of mine had the same problem. Facebook reminds me of the airlines, and I am the first person in line to push the government to change the rules for how the airlines treat customers. Guess I’ll add Facebook to the list. If I didn’t need it for business networking as an author, I’d just quit and go somewhere else.

What’s customer service Facebook? You really ought to learn. Sites fade in popularity and it’s only a matter of time before you become another My Space if you continue like this.

For what it’s worth…

One of Those Lives – Ruminations on Lamentations (not Ken Scholes’ book, the other one)

Did you ever have “one of those days?” Well, I’m having on of those months. Being laid off with no warning and no explanation on May 24 has just thrown me through a loop. The economy is horrible. The severance is about to run out. I had no anticipation and no sense of calling to move or leave but now must seek wisdom and answers. And it’s hard. It’s real hard. I apply and apply and, except for two, the replies are “job already filled” or “excellent and impressive resume, but you’re not what we’re looking for.”

If any Bible passage could describe how I’m feeling it’s Lamentations 3:

Lamentations 3

1 [a] I am the man who has seen affliction
by the rod of his wrath.

2 He has driven me away and made me walk
in darkness rather than light;

3 indeed, he has turned his hand against me
again and again, all day long.

4 He has made my skin and my flesh grow old
and has broken my bones.

5 He has besieged me and surrounded me
with bitterness and hardship.

6 He has made me dwell in darkness
like those long dead.

7 He has walled me in so I cannot escape;
he has weighed me down with chains.

8 Even when I call out or cry for help,
he shuts out my prayer.

9 He has barred my way with blocks of stone;
he has made my paths crooked.

10 Like a bear lying in wait,
like a lion in hiding,

11 he dragged me from the path and mangled me
and left me without help.

12 He drew his bow
and made me the target for his arrows.

13 He pierced my heart
with arrows from his quiver.

14 I became the laughingstock of all my people;
they mock me in song all day long.

15 He has filled me with bitter herbs
and sated me with gall.

16 He has broken my teeth with gravel;
he has trampled me in the dust.

17 I have been deprived of peace;
I have forgotten what prosperity is.

18 So I say, “My splendor is gone
and all that I had hoped from the LORD.”

Pretty hopeful stuff, huh?

I know, I’m supposed to have a positive outlook, have faith, trust the Lord, believe that He loves and wants the best for me and has a plan. I do believe that. The trouble is, He’s not telling me what all that is and I don’t like being in limbo and not know how we’re going to eat at the end of this month. It’s a scary place to be, especially since I spent most of 2003 out of work. The difference is, this time we have three pets, I’m married, and my retired parents are in no position to help out.

See? I need the Lord more than ever so where is He? The Bible tells us He’s there, in the midst of our sorrow, but I’m struggling to feel it.

Of course, as anyone who’s read Lamentations 3 knows, I can only wallow in the self-pity and hopelessness decribed by those first verses so long. Only until I read on and come to this:

22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.

23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;

26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.

Wow! Do I feel like a chump now or what? I mean, God is faithful. I’ve sung the hymn based on this song so many times I know it by heart. In fact, we scheduled it at planning session today for this Sunday. “His compassions are new every morning.” Wow! “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him” Wow! “Great is Your faithfulness” Sigh.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect to be perfect. I don’t expect to be sinless. I don’t expect to never have trouble. That said, I also have walked with God for over 30 years now. I’ve walked with Him through periods where I could feel His presence so strongly it was like another human walking beside me. I’ve walked with Him through periods where I knew He carried me, where I heard His voice in my ear, where I never thought I’d ever be, let alone find Him. And God has been good to me. A good family, good income for the past seven years, ministry opportunities around the world, good songs which people like and sing in churches and languages I’m not even aware of. He’s blessed me. But here I am wallowing in Lamentations 3: 1-18, one of the most optomistic (NOT) passages of the Bible.

Why do I say this? Because so many of you have also had times when it felt like “one of those lives,” and from the midst of it, it’s not only hard to see God’s presence, it’s hard to see the way our or believe you’ll ever see His presence again. But I am here in the midst telling you that I have faith, trust the Lord, believe that He loves and wants the best for me and has a plan. And I know He’s here in the darkest depths and I know He’s picking me up right now when I can’t walk any more. I believe that and so should you because He doesn’t love me any more than He loves you. He loves us both same.

So whether it’s “one of those days” or “one of those lives,” He’s with you. Even in the midst of great despair as I am now. He’s with you, He cares, and He has a way out planned, so lean on Him, let Him carry you and get ready for one amazing ride.

For what it’s worth…