Jason Sautel: Finding Faith in the Fire (Part 3)

John FarrellBy John Farrell14 Minutes

John Farrell: What is the best piece of advice you have for those who suffer from depression or this darkness?

Jason Sautel: First off, what I tell people is God’s given us everything. When I read Scripture, it’s balanced from start to finish. There’s not one single thing. God has everything. He’s given us so much. So, first thing I say is, “If you’re suffering, be around people. Get around people right away because people can recognize something going on within you.” Obviously, I’m speaking from a Christian term. So, I prefer someone to be around the body of Christ. But for someone who is not a Christian, get around people because you need people around you.

Number two … we need to turn to the Bible. We need to pray. We need people to pray over us because what’ll happen is someone might say “Just give it to Jesus” and walk away. You’re like, “Thanks. What does that really mean?” That’s why we need people around to help us work through things because they’re a gift given to us by God that will help us understand scripture.

I also believe that God gave us medicine and I believe that He wants us to use it, but I don’t believe that’s the only thing either. It needs to be well-rounded so that people who are suffering, number one, will put their faith in Christ crucified because they’ll finally get clarity on what’s going on, where the depression comes from … that we’re a fallen world, broken people. All of our brains are broken if you really look at it. It’s just some suffer from a deeper level of brokenness in different areas.

As a Christian, I just pray that other Christians will look at people who are suffering and point them to the truth. For Christians who are suffering, I want them to get around the body of Christ and start working their way out of it by letting Christ lead them out of it.

The Importance of Rescue

JF: The title of your book, The Rescuer, has a double meaning because not only are you rescuing people, but you were in a sense being rescued. How did God play a role in rescuing you?

Jason: You know that’s a great thing—being a rescuer who’s taken the worldly oath to rescue other people, save them, and lay my life down so others may live. There is that, but how God played a role in me is that He’s faithful. He’s so faithful. He kept calling me.

I wrote the book so that it would not be offensive, but I wanted people to see the true messed up person that I am. But how He kept calling me and how He would call me through an emergency scene, the people He put in my life. My future wife … how He put her in my life. How He uses His creation to also call us. He used it all. It wasn’t like one morning I went to bed, and I had a dream and I turned to Christ.

No. His voice was way louder than all the noise of this world that was trying to drown Him. He was able to push through the noise that was filling my head and keeping me from Him. He was able to push that away and kept coming at me and calling me to Him through multiple ways. He is the ultimate rescuer and that’s what I wanted people to realize—the relentless love and how I was rescued through His relentless love. That He was so faithful and came at me.

That’s a tough question to be honest with you, but just His faithfulness to keep calling me to Him and to shut down the noise of this world so I get to hear Him. I think that would be the straight-up answer.

JF: In a similar vein, what role did love play in your healing?

Jason: The worldly love will kill you because when children don’t get love at home, like I did, they’re going to go outside and try to find it in the world. That love they’re going to chase is going to end up killing them because it’s of this world and it’s not the true love of God.

But how God started the healing process in me is I’m a work in progress. Until the day I’m taking a knee in front of King Jesus, I’m not going to be made whole from what I’ve seen because I’m still in the flesh. I struggle with sins. I struggle with everything that everyone else does, but hanging onto the hope that He’s given me through Christ crucified and the true love that He pours into me, that He created me for eternity. That is what has helped the healing process as I go through this world.

I tell people it’s not about the here and now. When I became a Christian, it’s not like things got better. I was like, “Alright, I’m waiting for my BMW, but it never showed up.” What His love gave me is clarity. It gave me hope and it showed me what I was created for and that’s what I strive for now. When you strive for something Holy, which we are not but God is, chasing God and trying to do what He tells us, there’s where the healing process starts.

Playing Cupid

JF: I thought Chapter 13 was funny because it’s where you first meet your wife. What role did your niece play in your relationship with your wife? It seemed in that chapter that she was trying to play Cupid, and she was genuinely concerned about your love life.

Jason: What I was very cautious about was being a young firefighter. I talked very safely in this book because I don’t want young men to read this like, “Oh cool, fireman, truck, house, all that, and chasing chicks and everything.” Isn’t that what the world tells a young man? It’s all about get it out of your system.

That’s kind of where I was, but I was moving away from that because it just didn’t feel right. What I tell people is when you do something bad that you think is going to make you feel better, it actually makes you feel way worse in the long run.

My niece came out for the summer to visit from North Carolina, and she was always trying to set me up with someone because she wanted an aunt. She wanted someone to hang out with. She also knew that I was lonely … I guess from her little child’s view. What happened was we were going out to dinner that night and I wanted sushi, but being a young man, I knew nothing about little kids and I couldn’t figure out why this little girl didn’t want raw fish. She throws a stink and wants to go to this popular restaurant where all the college kids hang out. It’s a totally safe environment, fun, family place. So, I’m like, “Let’s go.”

We went there, and this is the crazy part about it. Christie, who I met there, was not supposed to be working that day. She picked up an extra shift because she needed the money. I wasn’t supposed to go, but it was my niece who was like, “Come on. Let’s go there, Uncle Jason. Let’s go.” So, we went there and that’s where I met an amazing woman who had beauty shining out of her that I couldn’t let go.

Speaking Jesus into Difficult Situations

JF: What advice or encouragement do you have for those in similar fields to firefighting, such as doctors, first responders, and police officers who serve others and are often faced with tragic and fatal situations? What hope is out there for them?

Jason: It’s so tough. I have to be so careful because what I do is I try to speak Jesus into all things because—let’s keep it real—I can’t fix anything if I really look at it. But I can speak Jesus into each situation and let Him get into people’s hearts, minds, and souls and start converting them to make the problems better.

So, I’m going to go two separate ways—field standpoint and then doctor standpoint. In the field, other people just don’t get it. They only see that 20-second snapshot that is put on the news. They don’t get the whole four, five, or six minutes of the horrible stuff we have to deal with. How we try to make all our choices based on “How can we do good?” And sometimes in doing good, there’s pain involved, and that pain attaches to us.

For field-level folks, I tell them, you have to keep it faith-based because the people who are going to tear you down and this world that is going to tear you down are not of Christ. We all know that the world hated Jesus; therefore, they are also going to hate us and it’s going to be a very hateful thing. So, turn to Christ and lean on Him. Make your decision-making based on the Holy Scriptures. That’s how you can start feeling better about what you’re doing because you can back it up with God’s Word. For people in the field and all the traumas they’re going through, turn to your Bible and turn to your fellow Christians and have that stronghold to fall back into because everything else is weak. When it crumbles away, you’re going to fall into the evilness that’s kicking you down.

For the higher-level folks in the hospital, it’s just as stressful for them. So, for them, I say the same thing, but it’s just at a different level than fieldwork because they’re often not having to make decisions based on traumatic emergency scenes when field-level people have to make decisions within one second that could either kill or save someone’s life.

Order your copy of The Rescuer: One Firefighter’s Story of Courage, Darkness, and the Relentless Love That Saved Him by Jason Sautel