It’s the other part of the story.
As part of Suicide Awareness Month, we told the parable last time of a man standing in the 10th-story window of a burning building and terrified of heights. But when he’s certain no help is coming, when fear of the flames rises and eventually overcomes fear of falling, he jumps.
A person struggling with depression can feel like that. Living means facing the flames of unbearable pain. If he’s convinced no relief is possible and fear of the pain overwhelms fear of dying, he jumps.
“When he’s certain no help is coming…” “If he’s convinced no relief is possible…”
He jumps, despite mind-crushing fear, when he’s lost hope.
While others stand safely on the ground and yell, “Don’t jump,” firefighters find the courage to enter burning buildings. The guy in the 10th-story window is a whole lot less likely to jump when he knows help’s on the way.
He’s willing to face the flames because the firefighter brings hope.
When someone wrestles with a mental illness like depression, when he reaches “hopeless,” he doesn’t need folks to stand at a distance and tell him he shouldn’t jump. He already knows that.
He needs to know help’s on the way.
Jesus told us to show up, to visit the prisoner and feed the hungry and provide water to the thirsty. We’re supposed to be His hands and feet, the folks who enter the burning building to bring hope to the hopeless.
I hear Him scolding “pharisees and teachers of the law” for fussing about spotless firehouses, shiny red trucks, and spiffy uniforms. He’d encourage the folks in muddy boots and turnout coats, those with soot-stained faces who take the risks and go into the tough places.
Jesus wants us to put on our boots and jeans. He wants us to meet Him in the fire as He whispers His message of hope to the guy in the window.
“Help’s on the way.”