God used Cecily Paterson to stop a suicide and change a life, and he can use you too!
A few years ago, I wrote a bunch of articles about friendship for Fervr, just because I could, y’know? It was an interesting subject, I’m a writer, and I had some time to give.
I didn’t know that God would use them to stop a suicide and change a life.
It happened like this. One of my articles was about being shy. Like always, Fervr added my contact details to the article. It was published, people read it, and then… I got an email.
It was from a Dutch girl, Karen*. She was a Christian and struggling with her relationships. “I’m really, really shy,” she told me. “I just can’t make any friends.” We had a few emails go back and forth, and eventually she said thanks and we stopped writing.
Months later, I got another email from Karen.
(Now, I have to be totally honest here: at the time, I was a teensy-weensy bit addicted to my phone. Okay, I was fully addicted to my phone. To the point where I checked my email when I went to the toilet in the middle of the night. Please note, this is not cool, nor healthy, however it seems that God can use even your crummy habits for his purposes.)
So, there I was, bleary-eyed, in the bathroom at 4am one morning, when this message from Karen popped up.
“I’m writing to say goodbye,” she said. “I’m going to commit suicide. Things are too bad, I can’t see a future, and I’m writing goodbye letters, including one to you because you were so kind to me in our emails.”
My eyes got a little less bleary and my brain jolted into action. The email hadn’t been sent very long ago. I did some quick calculations… if I replied, she might still get it.
I frantically typed out a message to her, basically saying, “No! Don’t do it! I’m going to pray for you.” The way I type messages on my phone is pretty old-personish (no thumbs), so it had heaps of mistakes, but I figured that wouldn’t matter.
I clicked send, and then jumped onto Facebook. “Pray for a girl called K,” I told all my northern hemisphere friends, awake on the other side of the world. “It’s really urgent.”
I prayed as well, and then I went back to bed.
There are no coincidences
Prayers were lifted up for Karen around the world and I kept emailing over the next few days, trying to encourage her that God had a plan for her life. Eventually I heard back from her.
She had gone to the train station, hoping to end her life on the tracks. On the way there, she met a friend on the bus who started talking to her. Nothing special – just every day stuff, but it was enough. The friend walked Karen home, and went on her way.
“What a coincidence,” she wrote to me. I said, “There are no coincidences. God is answering prayers.”
It’s been a tough road for Karen since that crisis point. There have been other crises, of course, that this short article can’t go into. She’s dealing with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, from a very difficult family background. We’ve kept in touch, and she’s been brave enough to get herself the professional and social help she needs. She’s also finished school, moved out of home, and made plans for her future.
Yes, there are ups and downs for her, and the downs are pretty big when they come, but she trusts God, and she’s prepared to work at recovery.
What to do when you feel helpless
Sometimes I feel a bit helpless, all the way across the other side of the world in Australia. I’m a practical person. I like to help, and I like to fix stuff. But when Karen is struggling, there is literally nothing I can do for her. I can’t give her a hug. I can’t go see her. I can’t be the family she needs.
However, I can give her two things:
- I can give her my friendship through messages and being in touch – and here, I’ve gained as much as I’ve given. It’s lovely to have her as a friend.
- I can pray. The prayers that God has answered, and the ways in which he’s figured stuff out, have been amazing to see.
Just keep praying!
So, never underestimate the power of your prayers. Don’t underestimate the power of a kind word to someone who’s struggling. And don’t underestimate the things God can do with something that you might think is trivial and unimportant. He uses all of it, even a phone addiction.