When I was a special education aide, there was a six-year-old girl brought to our classroom often for behavior issues. Well, let’s just say “behavior issues” is an extreme understatement. This girl was known to kick and bite teachers and classmates alike, and she would refuse to do many of the things she was required to do. One day she was brought in while there was a substitute teacher in the room. This was one of the first times I had seen her and not knowing her entire story and being the naïve, fresh-out-of-college girl that I was, I decided that the first thing I needed to do is to make her like me and establish a friendship with her. Wrong. While we did have a fun time at first, she saw me as an easy pushover and soon was horribly out of control when I was the only adult around. Then one day, I saw her acting out in her own classroom and how the teachers were trying to talk her into going to a class she didn’t want to go to. My instinctive response to this outright defiance was, “For goodness sakes, I wish I was her mother. I would grab her by the arm and drag her to class if I had to. We’re the authority, and we shouldn’t have to put up with this nonsense. Get her up and get her out of here to where she belongs!”
I am reminded of this incident as I think about the tremendous liberating victory Jesus granted me today. I had a few pleasantly surprised friends after my last blog since in the moments before I had written the blog, I had been talking to several friends about how suicidal I had been and how I was still struggling with it. Then my pastor and his wife came over to talk to me and told me how this suicide thing is a demon and it has to leave if I tell it to and mean it. Now, this wasn’t news to me. I had heard other pastors call it that too, but never believed them. I always dreaded when they made me talk to the spirit of suicide and thought it was weird. I thought that even if the suicide thing was a spirit or demon, why would it listen to me? But today, I realized that my biggest hesitation in telling the demon to get out is that I don’t really know if I wanted it to. Sure, I hate what suicide does to me and my relationships, but I kind of still wanted to have it around as a backup plan for when things don’t go right or I come across a situation I can’t handle. As my pastor was talking to me however, I suddenly thought, “You know what? I don’t care if I have to spend the rest of my days writhing in bed from the pain of depression or some other circumstance. Suicide has wrecked my life and hurt the people I care about and that care about me. Besides, Jesus has proved himself faithful over and over in my life and has never deserted me.” All of a sudden the light dawned and I saw the thing I had formerly made friends with thrashing about and got disgusted with it. A picture of the three Hebrew boys and the fiery furnace in Daniel chapter 3 came to mind and verse 18 popped into my mind. I’m going to start at verse 17 to bring it into context. “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” I thought, “Even if my depression or circumstances don’t improve, I’m still going to trust God to do as he sees fit, whether that means removing the pain or bringing me through it. In any case, suicide is not going to be my answer.”
I told my pastor that I needed to speak to the demon on my own, with no one else around. I get kind of stiff and embarrassed when people are there with me and I often sound wimpy even if I do mean it. I didn’t want to play games with this monster any more. I wanted to grab the thing and throw it out of my life once and for all and I wanted to be able to be the only teacher in the room so to speak. (I always feel weird disciplining students when I’m co-teaching with another teacher.) So once my pastor and his wife left, I got down to business immediately.
After scaring the dog with my fierceness and praising Jesus for my victory, it was truly like night and day. Suddenly, it was like everything around me was in full color. The enjoyment of life flooded over me so much that I was even surprised and thought, “Wow, that was fast!” I felt like a dirty lens had been taken off of me and now I really saw things as they were. The good in my life was suddenly precious to me and the destructive habits I’ve had were now wretched in my sight.
When I went to Bible Study tonight, I experienced another demonic temper tantrum. I call it a temper tantrum because that’s what it looked like and that’s how I treated it. My pastor was reading from Romans and I suddenly got an onslaught of horrible thoughts accompanied by the same crushing headache that had been accompanying the suicidal thoughts recently. At first I wondered what I should do about it but then I realized how pathetic the thing was and that I, not it, was the authority. I ignored it as I would a toddler throwing a temper tantrum and within a few minutes it disappeared completely and I was able to enjoy the rest of the Bible Study.
I am so grateful for the victory that Jesus has won for me and the authority he has given me over these things. I know that he who has begun a good work in me will bring it to completion and that he will continue to amaze me and those around me with his unfailing love and faithfulness.