Midwife to “new birth” or palliative care/hospice nurse for one intent on giving up…..sometimes I do not know which role I am being given. As a pastor one can point to hope, testify to hope, give the reason for one’s own hope, share stories of others’ hope, even try to help redefine hope in the life of one who can only see one “hopeful” outcome, but only the God of Hope can make it real in one’s heart. In my own experience with depression years ago, at one critical point I felt myself being given permission to die, offered a choice about my future. God certainly knew how hard life seemed at that moment, even in struggling with the choice to continue living he certainly also seemed to understand how hard it seemed at that moment, too. I thought it was a choice between physical life and death. I knew, however, I still had things to live for, including the imminent birth of a first grandchild. Later, in talking to a wonderful Christian counselor I realized the choice had really been between life and death of my spirit… will….my choice of whether or not to continue to seek joy in life in spite of difficult circumstances over which I had no control, the choice to trust God or not. I made the choice to live and struggle through the hard recovery journey, trusting God with the outcome. There are moments when I see others at that point of decision. My journey was not burdened additionally by the weight and confusion of chemical addiction. Such “dark nights” of the soul are not uncommon. They can be long. They can be agonizing. No matter how much so, God is there. He is still watching over and loving each one through the darkness of the agony. That is a fact I know and that I also trust in the lives of those in the throes of such agony. I wish I could say that each one makes the same choice I did in the dark night of the soul. Sadly, they don’t. But God is present and knows the struggle in their hearts, minds, souls, and spirits. He is trustworthy to lift them out of it…..if they choose. But in the end, it is still each person’s choice. God does not condemn one to destruction. It is, however, a choice some will make. When my observation and sad realization is that is the choice one has made, my prayer then moves to asking God to give them another chance, another opportunity to make the choice again….in another place, at another time, with another teacher. And I surrender them to his will.