I was thirty minutes into a forty-minute message I was giving at a large women’s conference, when I recognized that I needed to shift the conclusion. I’d planned on inviting women to respond to God and come to the altar, but what I sensed now was not the sort of altar call I’d ever given or experienced before. I paused for a moment, convinced that God was asking me to push into this new direction. So I asked the audience the unthinkable question: Is there anyone in the crowd who has ever attempted suicide or been plagued by suicidal thoughts like I’d been?
Then I asked, “If you’re like me, would you be willing to join me at the front?”
I will never forget the next few moments. Women began to leave their seats and pour down to the front of the stage. They came from the back of the arena and from the balconies. I stood with tears pouring down my face as I looked at them. Some were in their teens and some were in their seventies. There were hundreds of them. I thought back to nights when I’d believed I was the only Christian in the world who struggled with suicidal thoughts. But as the women poured down the aisles, I saw how many there were. Some women had struggled with suicidal thoughts for most of their lives, and some for only a short while. But here they were, and the thought struck me: we were not alone.
Something rose up in me on that stage, and I swear my five-foot-four stature stretched to six feet. I felt fierce, confident. I looked at the women who remained in their seats, the community of women who didn’t struggle with suicide or depression, and I asked each to stretch out her hands toward the struggling daughters of God as a sign that we were standing together.
Then, I prayed.
I asked God to shine His light into our darkness.
I asked Him to breathe hope into the stagnant filth of despair. I asked for His truth to penetrate the lies we had all believed for so long.
Then I closed with a scripture I have loved since I was a child:
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid? (Ps. 27:1 ESV)
I have shared the first verse of Psalm 27 hundreds of times in my life. But that night, for the very first time, I declared the final two verses of Psalm 27 out loud over each one of us who chose to stand in the light. And that night I believed these words:
I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord! (27:13–14 ESV).
As I spoke, something became crystal clear. When we try to hide our wounds, our scars, our cancers, all those things we believe make us less lovely, we make fear and shame the stronghold of our lives.
But when we bring our wounds to Christ,
when we out our secrets and shame,
we make Him the stronghold of our lives,
and He uses our wounds for His purposes.
If you’re like me and you struggle with suicidal thoughts, or if you self-harm in any way, I invite you to join me in a prayer.
Lord Jesus Christ,
I am broken but You died so that I might find healing. You were rejected so that I could be fully accepted.
I choose life now in Your powerful name.
I am Your well-loved child on the days when I feel it and on the days when I don’t.
I refuse to listen to the lies of the enemy anymore, and I confess with my mouth that in Jesus’ name, I will live! Amen.
Amen, my friend.
Sheila Walsh first came to fame as a Scottish-born contemporary Christian singer, and the co-host of The 700 Club. But what endears her to audiences is her story of how God met her when she was at her lowest point and lifted her up again. Sheila lives in Dallas with her husband and son, and she loves teaching the Bible, writing daily, her menagerie of animals, and coffee (rumor has it she’s lobbying a well-known coffee chain to add a bigger serving size called “bucket”).