I have been reading the heartbreaking story of young Maddie Yates who took her life yesterday in Louisville, KY. Before her final act she made her version of a suicide note: a video on youtube explaining her reasoning and logic. Here is the transcript of what she said:
I know it’s not OK for me to be doing this, but I just can’t do this anymore. It feels like I’m being swallowed whole into myself. It physically hurts. Sometimes it hurts so bad that I throw up, and sometimes I just get panic attacks. I know this is selfish. You know, the doctor prescribed Prozac for depression and anxiety, but those are just fancy words for “selfish.” I know that I’m going to hurt everyone who loves me, and I really do love them too. But I’ve been like this for so long, and there’s still a chance that the worst day might still be coming. And I just don’t see how this is a bad idea because it’s like someone’s on the 12th floor, and the room behind them is on fire. And they’re standing on the window ledge and they have a choice whether or not to jump and get away from the fire or just stay and die a slow, excruciating death. It feels like that.
But I don’t want anyone to feel like it was their fault. This was my decision, not yours. I’m the one who messed up, not you. There’s nothing, literally nothing that you could have done; you’ve all tried so hard to help me. And I tried too. I guess it’s like I don’t mean to be over dramatic, but it’s like there’s a demon inside of me [inaudible].
You can’t help me. You’ve tried. And I’m sorry. I really don’t mean to hurt anyone. Remember that I’m doing you a favor. Remember how bad of a person I really am. I say awful things. Even if I don’t mean them, I say them. You don’t even want to know the things that I think; I am not a good person. I’m doing literally the whole world a favor. But I love you, and I’m sorry. And I really, really love you.
Maddie had a unique view on the reality of life. Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, after entertaining every type of pleasure under the sun, determined that all of life is vanity. “Vanity of vanities” is the very essence of our existence on this Earth: that we would work hard, be successful or fail only to leave it all behind in death (Ecc 1.2). Jesus Himself called the rich man who builds up for himself barns to hold all of his treasures a fool (Luke 12.20).
If we strive for life, for satisfaction, for pleasure or for meaning in this life alone, it is all vanity. Maddie is right. We are all dying. We are on the twelfth floor of a burning building.
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?
– Mark 8.36
However, there is a third way out. Burning a slow agonizing death and jumping from the window are certainly two options. But there is One who can sustain us through the fire.
Then these men were tied up in their trousers, their coats, their caps and their other clothes, and were cast into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire. For this reason, because the king’s command was urgent and the furnace had been made extremely hot, the flame of the fire slew those men who carried up Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. But these three men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, fell into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire still tied up. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astounded and stood up in haste; he said to his high officials, “Was it not three men we cast bound into the midst of the fire?” They replied to the king, “Certainly, O king.” He said, “Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!” Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the furnace of blazing fire; he responded and said, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, come out, you servants of the Most High God, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego came out of the midst of the fire. The satraps, the prefects, the governors and the king’s high officials gathered around and saw in regard to these men that the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men nor was the hair of their head singed, nor were their trousers damaged, nor had the smell of fire even come upon them.
– Dan 3.21-27
The fire of Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace was so hot that it killed those who would throw the young men into it’s blaze, but God not only kept them through the flames; He met them there.
Salvation requires that we understand our true nature. That we know that we are wicked sinners who deserve death and damnation. We must know from what we are being saved, and the very reason that we need a Savior. Maddie understood this, most likely more than you or me. But when we get to that hour of darkness we must look outside of ourselves and see the light. There is a Savior. And He can take away our sin, our selfishness, our ugliness and make us His righteousness through His blood that He shed on the cross.
Life is vanity. If you are as rich as Bill Gates, as famous as Angelina Jolie or as powerful as Xi Jinping, nothing that you have acquired on this Earth will last – to your benefit – beyond your death. Unless, of course, you have stored up for yourself the treasures in Heaven that rust and moth will not destroy (Matt 6.20).
Do not forfeit your soul. Trust in the one who saves. Cling to the One who can withstand the fire, who can sustain you through the trials, who can save your soul forever.