Demoralized and Suicidal
I love reading biographies of men and women used by God. Let me tell you about a brilliant young man by the name of Siong-ceh Sung, or John Sung—the name he came to be known by in America. Seeing his son’s brilliance, his father packed his meager belongings in a single suitcase and sent his son to America. Although John had to work hard to support himself, it didn’t keep him from his studies. The rather large-headed Oriental boy was the amazement of his professors. However, to John, his intellectual achievements were not enough. There was a void in his soul that earning a Ph.D. did not fill.
Thinking himself a Christian, little did John realize that his restlessness and quest for knowledge were the Spirit’s means of drawing him to Himself, out of religion into a relationship that would give him not only life but life abundantly as Jesus promised in John 10:10. John was to be a torch lit in America and flung by the omnipotent God across the ocean into Asia where the flaming brand of Sung’s life would ignite supernatural fires of revival. But not without great turmoil.
Having earned his doctorate in chemistry but still feeling dissatisfied, John went to seminary—a seminary filled with liberal professors. All the while thinking himself a Christian but finding no reality, no peace of mind, John soon found himself in depression, despairing of any cure for the troubled heart that now held him captive.
His depression did not go unnoticed by his professors. He wore a frown like the down side of a thespian mask. Then one night a young woman came to speak at a meeting held by some of the students in the seminary. Her joy and obvious intimate relationship with Jesus Christ touched John’s heart so much that he went to his room to shut himself in until he would know God as she knew God.
On the night of February 10, God’s light broke on his darkened soul and with it came the revelation of his sins—all the sins of his life were spread before him like a filthy blanket. At first it seemed as though there was no way to get rid of them and that he must go to hell. He tried to forget them, but he couldn’t; they pierced deep into his heart. Frantically he searched through the trunk he’d brought from China. He was searching for his New Testament. As he began to read it for the first time in months, he turned to [esvignore]Luke 23[/esvignore] and the account of the crucifixion of the Savior of the world. The scene was so vivid in his mind that he seemed to be standing at the foot of the cross laden down with his sins. ((Leslie T. Lyall, John Sung: Flame for God in the Far East (Chicago: Moody Press, 1964), p. 39.))
Suddenly John found himself pleading to be washed from all of his sin in the precious blood. To him it was a vision as clear as the one the Apostle Paul saw on the Damascus road. He wept and prayed until, at midnight, he heard a voice saying, “Son, thy sins are forgiven.” Immediately he felt the weight of his sin fall from his shoulders. John was saved; he had met his Savior. ((Lyall, p. 39.))
The prisoner who had incarcerated himself in his room, locked up in deep depression, now burst forth, running down the halls of the dormitory filled with joy. Joy that could not be contained—joy heard by all!
However, the dramatic change was so great that the seminary authorities thought he had gone mad. Not understanding the joy nor reality of salvation themselves, they committed him to a psychiatric institution. Their diagnosis was that the emotional strain of his depression brought an emotional and mental breakdown!
“You’ll only be in here for six weeks.” Unable to convince them of his sanity and his conversion, John reasoned that because he had his Bible with him, he could handle six weeks. That he counted on . . . six weeks and no more. However, when the six weeks were over and he asked to be discharged, that was denied him.
Feeling they had deceived him, he began to argue angrily with the doctor. The fire of his temper was so fierce that the doctor was convinced that John was mentally unbalanced. With that, they put him in a security ward for violent patients.
After a week of this, John tried to escape only to be discovered by dogs trained to hunt down those who would seek to leave the “asylum.” His attempt to escape only served to confirm and even increase the institution’s suspicions about John. Consequently he was locked up in another ward, worse than his previous one. As John’s eyes roamed his new surroundings, he found himself in a ward of dangerous, fighting, swearing maniacs. ((Lyall, p. 42.))
It seemed too much for John to handle. He could not see this as God’s appointment. The Five Deadly D’s came crashing over his head in waves, one after the other, dragging him down in the sucking undercurrent, washing over him until he thought he would surely drown. The joy he had once experienced seemed like a dream lost in the reality of life. Rejoice? He could not rejoice. All John could think of over and over was his failure to escape.
In that prison there was a Rock higher than himself, but he refused to run into it. He had the Word, but he would not read it. Cast into despair, he was ready to be lured into the trap of the enemy. Did Satan sense that God had mighty things in store for John Sung? We do not know. We only know that Satan is a liar, a murderer, and that he wanted John’s life even though he could not have his soul.
As dark thoughts of ending his own life bombarded his mind, John did not recognize where they came from. All hope seemed gone. Totally demoralized, John planned to take his life.
Can you understand, Beloved? Has there ever been a time when you have thought of taking your own life? I have. Where do such thoughts come from? From the one who was a murderer from the beginning. And what must we do, even in our little strength?
We must “be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (1 Peter 5:8-10).
And what happened to John Sung? That we will see tomorrow.
This blog post is excerpted from the out-of-print 30-day devotional “How to Stand Firm Against the Five Deadly D’s” by Kay Arthur.