The jumper was on the edge . . . literally. The creaking of huge metal cables echoed through the thick fog while violent tides crashed 220 feet below.
San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge is well known as a suicide launching pad, and apparently this jumper was next in line. Two police officers were at the scene, including one who is known for talking down hundreds of people who had intended to jump. There seemed to be hope.
Photo by Brocken Inaglory (Own work) GFDL or CC-BY-SA via Wikimedia Commons
After an hour or so of negotiations, the man asked if the officers were familiar with Greek mythology, specifically the story of Zeus and Pandora’s Box. He told the police officers that Zeus created Pandora and sent her to earth with a box, instructing her to never, ever open it. But one day, Pandora caved to her curiosity, and she cracked open the box. Immediately, a burst of ghostly plagues, sorrows, and wickedness of all kinds scattered into the air, filling the earth. But Zeus had included one more little item that did not leave the box: the spirit of Hope.
The man looked at both officers sadly and asked, “So what does one do when hope isn’t in the box?”
Silence . . .
The winds whipped hard as the bridge’s cables groaned and the waves crashed below . . .
Then he jumped.1
Where Do We Find Hope?
Where does one go when he or she believes there is no hope? This man chose the Golden Gate Bridge, but there are other options.
- Some drink or use drugs.
- Others spend money, stay in bed, cut themselves, or cry incessantly.
- Hopeless people find many ways to numb themselves to cope with pain.
Human nature is interesting in that we often run to things that never promise to provide hope. But we run and run until we run out of options. Hopeless and extremely exhausted, we think that taking a leap to escape something or someone is the only option.
But it never satisfies.
Can There Be a Good God?
I have wanted to leap . . . more than once. When a storm blows through my life, it creates such a mess. Sometimes it’s hard to see the goodness of God in it all. In fact, He seems most distant when we are in grave despair. The writer Ann Voscamp stated it so well in her book One Thousand Gifts:
Can there be a good God? A God who graces with good gifts when a crib lies empty through long nights? . . . How can He be good when babies die, and marriages implode, and dreams blow away, dust in the wind . . . when cancer gnaws and loneliness aches and nameless places in us soundlessly die, break off without reason, erode away. Where hides this joy of the Lord, this God who fills the earth with good things, and how do I fully live when life is full of hurt?2
Indeed, life is full of hurt and pain we never expected. We need only look at Jesus, the greatest example of this truth. He was bullied, maligned, rejected, tempted, misunderstood, beaten, wrongly accused, and murdered. He had every right to be a bit upset, if you ask me.
But He wasn’t. Instead, He endured it all because He believed everything God said He was and is.
God and Our Circumstances
We must not treat our circumstances as our god, but we have to remember that God is with us in our circumstances—however we define them. Do you believe that? Come what may, God is not defined by what we encounter or endure. To stay off the edge, you must separate your experiences and the nature or character of God. We must believe that He is:
Let Me Hear from You
Are you on the edge or searching for a quick fix these days? Has life been pretty disappointing, aggravating, harsh, unfair? If so, believe in God’s character and run to Him for hope. So I’m holding out my hand, hoping you will give God a try and come off the edge. Take a leap toward the One who promises to help you through. It can be terribly difficult to believe these words. I understand.
This week, let’s talk about what you believe about God and how you can find hope in the days ahead.
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- Adapted from Kevin Briggs, “The Bridge between Suicide and Life,” presented at TED Talks, March 2014, http://us1.campaign-archive1.com/?u=07487d1456302a286cf9c4ccc&id=97e232314a&e=7ec4c01209 (accessed Jun. 2, 2014).
- Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010), 12.