I read a story about Michael Faraday (1791 – 1867) and it is so striking that I think I need to share with other people in the wake of the spikes in the prevalence of suicide in this contemporary generation. The World Health Organization estimates that one person commits suicide every 40 seconds (Yes! Less than a minute) and it will be every 20 seconds by the year 2020 (just three years away). Faraday was one of the greatest scientists of all time. He is referred to as “Man of Science” and “Man of God.” Reflecting on his life brings two biblical passages to mind; great assurances for us that no matter how the intense challenges of life may be, we should not lose hope and cause harm to ourselves. Like the jailor in Philippi, we must heed to Apostle Paul’s admonishing: “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!” (Ac. 16:28, NLT). The other verse of hope is Jesus’ assertion that “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26, ESV).
In the light of this, we see that the story of Michael Faraday brings to focus how God can change a person’s life from nowhere to somewhere and from nobody to somebody. Indeed, it is said that, Faraday was born into a committed Christian family and also had trust in the Lord. The highest education Faraday could have before dropping out from school was basic education. At age 14, he dropped out of school to work to earn money for his family (his parents and siblings). Because his poor parents could not make ends meet, at that tender age of fourteen, they were looking up to him to cater for them.
Faraday secured a job in a bookbinding shop at Blandford Street as a delivery boy and later rose to the rank of apprentice bookbinder. Instead of limiting himself only to the binding of books, Faraday developed interest in reading those books to acquire the knowledge espoused in the books. Three of those books which were his favourite included Janes Haldimand Marcet’s books entitled: The Encyclopedia Britannica (1842), Conversations on Chemistry (1853), and Isaac Watts’ book, The Improvement of the Mind (1885).
Despite the fact that Faraday had various responsibilities in taking care of his parents, he managed to use his meagre salary to build a miniature laboratory to experiment the principles he read from the books he had. One day, Faraday heard of a forthcoming lecture on science by John Tatum (1752 – 1858) but he could not afford to pay the one shilling registration fee to the lecture. He received assistance from his brother (a blacksmith) before he was able to attend the lectures. This particular lecture deepened his reflection on science.
By dint of hard work and, by inference, deep trust in the Lord, Faraday became a great experimentalist and scientist. His scientific ingenuity resulted in the concepts of electromagnetism (including diamagnetism and electromagnetic rotary devices) and the laws of electrolysis. He was also credited with the discovery of benzene, clathrate hydrate, and the invention of Bunsen burner as well as other important scientific principles that are still in use today. In the scientific world, we have Faraday’s Law of Induction that helps scientists and engineers to produce an electromotive force (EMF).Faraday’s constant is also another popular principle in science: F = eNA, where NA represents Avogadro Constant. These are important principles used in electrical and other engineering fields, thanks to the ingenuity of Faraday. Out of these principles, we have fast trains, generators, electrical motors, etc.
Aside the fact that initially Faraday could not further his education due to financial constraints, he was also described as being beneath the class of people who could be allowed to study science in his day. In other words, studying science at the time was not for the children of ordinary people and that was a virtual or potential impossibility which could hinder the fulfilment of his scientific ambition. Perhaps, this exclusivity was due to the possible lack of funds, on the part of the poor, to acquire science apparatus to contribute towards setting up of science laboratories. It could also be that being a scientist was an exclusive profession for the elites and aristocrats as a way of showing of their honour in the society at the time.
Faraday rose from being a school dropout; a teenager family breadwinner; book deliverer; and bookbinder and became an avid reader of books; researcher; professor of Chemistry; a scientist as well as inventor. Faraday’s family background and working environment coupled with his contemporary societal exclusion of children of ordinary people from studying science didn’t hinder him from becoming a scientist. Faraday was a determined person and very passionate about accomplishing his vision and ambition, no matter how the constraints might be. Determination in an enduring situation should be benchmark for developing our ingenuity. No matter how situations in our lives may turn out, we should keep our trust in God because nothing is impossible to Him.
We can see that Faraday’s work in the bookshop gave him great advantage to read many books that tended to change his life, perhaps more than if he were to further his education as a poor child. Although you may fail in your examination or being disappointed by people you trust very well, total dependence on the grace of God as well as diligence in your endeavor can contribute to success in life. For the most part, disappointment from human beings sets us up for great appointments with the Lord. When one door closes, trust the Lord and make the most of the opportunities He brings your way. Don’t cry over spilt milk because for those in Christ, all things work together for our good end (Rom. 8:28, cf. Gen. 50:20).
Unfortunately, instead of taking the path of trusting the Lord, many people resort to suicide when they come to such seeming dead-ends; an example is the Philippian jailor (Ac. 16:28). He felt his prisoners had escape so he was going to kill himself. We thank God that his situation happened right in front of Paul, whose mouth was full of the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ. Faraday didn’t take that road. Sadly, the media now is replete with suicide here and suicide there and the sad part is that it involves students who could be a “Faraday” for the future. Suicide is not an option for any human being. No one should cause harm to himself or herself for experiencing any sort of disappointment in life because God can still change your situation to your advantage.
People commit suicide because they think that nothing good can come out of their lives. When we lack trust in the Lord, depression results. Suicide is the ebb of depression and the height of distrust in the Omnipotent God. If you have not accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour, please accept Him now. Among other things, accepting the Lord Jesus and placing your trust in Him means, He will hold you in times of great disappointment and like Faraday (as seen in this life story) and Joseph (Gen. 50:20), He will bring good out of your distress.
Fellow Christians, I entreat you as Apostle Paul did to offer support to those around you who are in great distress and by word and good deeds, assure them that “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!” (Ac. 16:28, NLT).
Source: Apostle Anane Denteh The writer is an Apostle of Church of Pentecost.