An ominous wave of teen suicides swept across Minneapolis and St. Paul last week. My 16 year old son and his friends at Mounds View High School are still reeling. So am I… Because I felt it coming…
20 boys show up on our doorstep late Saturday night. They had made their rounds to 3 or 4 graduation parties stuffing themselves on chips and dips and catered Jimmy Johns sandwiches. They came in late and flopped in the living room. My wife, Jill pulled out a few bags of chip, some dip and some cookies. They weren’t hungry, but they ate anyway. We knew why they were there: not one of them wanted to be alone and they were finding consolation and reassurance in each other’s presence. They laughed and jabbed at each other as 16 year olds will. But a noticeable, sedate heaviness held them down. Of course… It had been a bitter week for all of them, and for me…
One of their schoolmates, a young 15 year old girl, took her life six days before. It stunned everyone. She was popular, and talented, a member of Mounds View High School’s esteemed orchestra and championship track team. No one could have foreseen it, not from her. Now every student in Mounds View is left thinking, “If her, what about me?”
I felt it coming, and I believe I fought the battle with her. Last weekend there were several teen suicides across the Twin Cities… The blight hit like a plague. Stunning. Treacherous. Horrifying. Why here? Why so suddenly? Why so many? There’s some dark mystery behind this, something I don’t understand, some demonic plot.
I fought the same battle, at the same time. Early Saturday morning – around 2:00 AM – I woke in a cold sweat battling an emotional suffocation of fear and despair. I’m not a melancholy soul. I don’t normally struggle with depression or anxiety. I virtually never have thoughts of suicide. But that morning it all swept me under – all those same hopeless thoughts and emotions. I lay awake for the next four hours praying and battling whatever demons were behind this attack. It was one of the darkest, most trying experiences I can every remember. I finally fell into a fitful sleep around 6:00 AM.
When I woke up and stumbled into the kitchen my son met me with his bitter news – his school mate had taken her own life early that morning. My night time battle made sudden sense, and sudden senselessness! I felt – but didn’t understand – the connection between my battle and hers, and as I learned in the hours that followed, that of several other teens across the Cities. Why had I fought this battle? Why had a succeeded in chasing the terror from my sould and my home but had not chased it from my City? I’m the pastor of a large Church in St. Paul. I have some spiritual jurisdiction in this region. I know and believe this. But had I failed in my intercession? Or only partially succeeded? I don’t know. The matter torments m,e and I’m still processing the battle and the tragedy. Maybe I’ll never know… Probably not, at least not fully.
The world behind what we see is real and dangerous and cloaked from our understanding. But somehow we’re asked to navigate it none-the-less… and we’re ask to wield the “Name of Jesus” as our sword and to do battle in response. That’s all I know, and all that makes sense. In the horrible wake of these tragic deaths the two things I know for certain are that there is an evil force in this world, a force with a will intent on destroying human life, and there is a God who loves us, and has given us a place, a purpose and a power to fight this force and prevail, thoguh at the risk of our own souls. The power is enough, but it is beyond our own capacity, and from and of God himself. Why God has put us on a war zone… I don’t know. But I have to believe, as I’ve seen myself, the battle is winnable with and in the Name of the One… Join me there in that battle, in that Name!
“God, we pray today for the families and friends of those young people who have taken their own lives. We know that evil forces prey on our souls. The Bible says ‘the devil prowls like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.’ We know the world is dangerous. Many young people have become Satan’s prey. God, have mercy… On their souls and on those of us left behind to struggle and grieve and fight same battles ourselves. Bring your comfort to all those wounded by suicide. Heal. Comfort. Restore. And God, give us eyes to see the true enemy behind such senseless death. Give us supernatural discernment to see the wiles of Despair before it strikes. Renew our strength face down the haunting lies of Depression and the power of Jesus to drive it from our own souls, the souls of others, and from the jurisdictions where we live. ‘In Jesus’ name, spirit of suicide, be gone!’ And in it’s place, Holy Spirit of peace, rest, hope, even joy, come and fill the emptiness. You came to bring us life, and life abundant… We will take that gift, and fight to receive it…”