He had failed at his job.
Tomorrow his family would be forced to share his shame.
Legal action would probably be taken against him. Prison time might be ahead. In his time and society, the penalty for lack of diligence in his important responsibility would be hard to predict; possibly even bringing death.
Suicide was on his mind.
Why go on?
A counselor friend of mine says those three words are most often on the lips of people considering suicide. The mountains ahead seem too steep to cross. Present problems appear unsolvable. Fear rules all thoughts about the future. Strength to fight on is gone. There seems little point in continuing the struggle.
My own father’s death by suicide was one of the most difficult experiences of my life. The haunting question “What could I have done to prevent this tragedy?” kept echoing through my mind. Finally, after a long period of time with an open Bible and a lot of prayer, peace came. So did the chance to harness my hurt to help heal hopeless hearts.
I’ve had occasion to come alongside others who were walking through such dark valleys that they could see no light, had lost all hope, were wondering, often aloud, if only to themselves, “What’s the use? Why go on?”
Suicide is never God’s will. It is an irreversible solution to a temporary problem that God is able to solve. God has a wonderful plan for your life (Jeremiah 29:11), and when we open our hearts to Him, He proves that hopeless times are great occasions for Him to prove His love. Our extremity becomes God’s opportunity. On the darkest day, God makes a way.
But what about the man who thought himself a failure and didn’t think he could face another day?
This desperate man lived in the first century and was in charge of a prison, totally responsible for its security.
Now an earthquake had nearly destroyed the prison, causing him to conclude all the inmates had escaped. Impulsively drawing his sword, he prepared to fall on it, ending his life, but a comforting call from one of the prisoners halted his act of suicide.
And there was something different about this caring one; he was known as a man of prayer whose walk demonstrated his talk was to be taken seriously.
Could this man of faith help him in his hour of need?
It seemed worth a try.
“What must I do to be saved?” the trembling, suicidal, jailor cried.
The answer startled him: it was a simple call for faith: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:25-31)
What good news! He could look above his feared superiors to the Lord.
He could get rid of this terrible feeling of failure by trusting the One who never fails.
The prisoner said faith would bring better days ahead for him and his family.
He believed ... and found his prisoner’s promise true.
So can you.
Roger Campbell was an author, a broadcaster and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years. “Everywhere You Go There’s a Zacchaeus Up a Tree,” a book containing over one hundred of his best columns, is now available at your local or online bookseller.