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Eighty six people in the United States take their own lives each day, while another 2,150 attempt to kill themselves.And this does not take into account all of those who walk through their days suffering from depression, feeling as if their soul is in a vice and their life is being slowly suffocated. And mental illness does not avoid those who check the “Christian” box on their census forms.I guarandamntee you that at least one person in your pew or row at church this Sunday will be one who is suffering from depression or another mental illness.No matter the size of your congregation, chances are very good that at least one person in worship with you this Sunday has had suicidal thoughts in the last six months.What a professor might do on a sabbatical may depend on how the university interprets the leave.Some see it as a break time where teachers refuel and avoid becoming burned out in their profession.It will most likely be inconvenient and tedious to go sit with someone who is not the life of the party. If you attend a church with a leader or a celebrity or someone other than a pastor, you are going to have to look elsewhere. You don’t need someone who is a gifted speaker or a noted theologian.
It is the people who make up the church that must be God’s hand extended to those who are hurting. But when my friend Mike calls to tell me he is coming over to watch baseball with me and bringing ice cream, I know it’s not because he is being paid to do so.More than anything, you just need to be there for them. I wrote earlier about how lousy Christians are at loving one another, even though that is the one mark Jesus said will identify us as his followers.Not just once or twice, and not just when you see the on Sundays. I talked about how few people I have had who are willing to say “I love you” or just come be with me.Matthew Warren, a Christian who came from a loving home and had access to medical and spiritual help, could no longer bear his pain.Statistically, another American ended his/her own life seventeen minutes prior to Warren’s suicide, and another seventeen minutes after.