With the recent suicides in the west Georgia area, I was lead to write about my thoughts regarding the issue and other problems that life presents. By the way, my heart goes out to those families who are suffering because of the recent suicides. May God heal. Years ago, when I was in college, I had a close friend (I will call him “Sam”) who was also a fraternity brother. Outside looking in, Sam seemed to have everything in the world going for him. He was healthy, enjoyed the college experience, was intelligent, and would have given you the shirt off his back. I graduated from Georgia Southern in 1997. Sam was still in Statesboro. I will never forget the phone call from my girlfriend in the Spring of 1998. Sam had taken a .38 revolver, put it in his mouth, and pulled the trigger. This event would forever alter my view of suicide and how we deal with problems. I will also never know the pain or reason behind the awful event. I have a belief that is shared by other spiritual friends. As God’s children, each of us has at least one aspect of life which is a huge challenge. Many of us have numerous problems. They can be problems with health, family, legal issues, depression, and many more. There are many ways to deal with our challenges and problems. However, some coping mechanisms simply compound the problems (drug abuse, alcohol abuse, seeking out people for relationships who will destroy a marriage, and countless other addictions.) But, there are many ways to cope with problems in a way that God has suggested; developing a closer personal relationship with Him, serving other people, focusing on God’s will for us and the power to carry that out, regular exercise, and caring less about what others think about us. This is easy to write about. But, what about putting an action plan together? That requires work. Many of you know that I freely admit that I possess character defects that I must work on every day. Most days are very good and I have a sense of gratitude. But, there are days of darkness, fear, and hate. What about those dark days? These are the days when men and women contemplate suicide, indulge in addiction, and try to forget about life. These are the dangerous times. What does God want us to do during these times? NEVER GIVE UP. I do not believe that it was a coincidence that as I am writing this column, Sarah Young’s devotional this morning comes to mind. MAY 10 - JESUS CALLING – by SARAH YOUNG DO NOT RESIST OR RUN from the difficulties in your life. These problems are not random mistakes; they are hand tailored blessings designed for your benefit and growth. Embrace all of the circumstances that I allow in your life, trusting Me to bring good out of them. View problems as opportunities to rely more fully on Me………… NEVER GIVE UP. Yes, that is a different way of looking at things. The secular world would have you be totally self-sufficient. Then, there would be no need for God. I must admit that it is difficult to “view problems as opportunities.” However, I have seen this happen over my lifetime. As I make mistakes, face challenges, and are presented with life’s problems, I am going to try to focus on what God wants me to learn; not the pain of the current situation. There is also the clinical aspect to suicide. If you, or someone you know, is currently contemplating suicide as the answer to their problems, please find them help from a mental health specialist as soon as possible. You could save a life.