Jump Start # 2116
Hebrews 9:27 “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men t die once and after this comes judgment.”
The news report yesterday brought the sad story of fashion designer Kate Spade’s death. At the age of 55, she took her life. Famous, rich, living in a place where most of us could not afford, she seemed to be living the dream that most folks are after. Deep depression ruined her life and now it is over. She is yet another in a long list of famous people that have taken their lives. Robin Williams immediately comes to our mind as another one. We wrote about mental illness at the time of Williams death. What about suicide?
It is commonly believed that suicide is a one-way ticket to Hell. “Self-murder,” as some describe it, has no hope because the person never repented of that sin. And, with that, we often leave the subject and feel satisfied that no one will ever consider it. But they have and they do. Within the body of Christ, families have had to deal with all that comes with suicide. There are so many unanswered questions and the problems are often shifted to the family to deal with. Dying of cancer happens. But suicide, that is something that seems shameful and people whisper about it for a long time.
In the pages of the Bible we remember King Saul falling on his sword during the Philistine battles. His armor bearer had to “finish him off,” as one might coldly say. Judas hung himself after betraying the Lord. The text states that he fell and burst open which leads us to conclude that he was left hanging until he rotted and burst. I expect no one wanted to deal with Judas. The disciples wouldn’t. The Jews wouldn’t. The Romans didn’t care. Elijah and Jonah both asked God to end their lives but they didn’t do anything to speed up that process. They left it in the hands of the Lord. Samson’s death wasn’t so much a suicide as it was dying in battle as he crushed the Philistines in the arena where he was. Paul told the Philippians that his desire was to go and be with the Lord, but he didn’t do anything to hurry that up.
One doesn’t find any positive words in the Scriptures about taking your own life. One doesn’t find God using a suicide as an example for us to follow. Suicide doesn’t seem to be an act of faith. In fact, the lack of faith may be one of the reasons a person ends their life. They are scared. They are tired. They are lonely. They are trying to escape trouble. They are not thinking right. The experts have all kinds of ideas why this is done. Netflix ran a series of shows entitled “Thirteen reasons.” It was about a teen who took her life. Reports have come in from all over the country about others taking their lives and this show being one of the reasons. They are now coming out with season two, which is reported to be a raunchy, godless continuation of the same characters who now deal with life without their friend.
Does a person go to Hell if he takes his own life? Let’s walk down that hallway for a moment.
First, it is not our prerogative to decide who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell. Yet, that doesn’t satisfy most people. They want to put a person in one place or the other. What we know, is what God has revealed to us. What He has revealed is what He has decided. It’s not so much the act of death, but the lack of faith that will destroy our souls. Jesus said, unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins. He said, unless we repent we will perish. So, to start with, don’t be so judgmental to a hurting family that is ashamed, grieving and full of questions as to why a loved one took their life. Saying, “He’s in Hell,” isn’t nice, helpful and it may not be completely true. Remember the golden rule. What would you want someone to say to you if the roles were reversed. Likewise, back off with all the questions. “How did he do it?” is very personal. “Did he leave a note?” Even if he did, do you think the family ought to share it with you? Stop being so nosey and curious. Comfort the family that is about to collapse because of this tragic event and are ashamed because they feel responsible for not doing something to prevent this. Be a help and not more burdens that the family must carry. Be a face that welcomes them and not one that runs them off.
Second, if we conclude that a person goes to Hell because their final act on earth was sinful, and they did not repent, that sounds very close to salvation by works. That doesn’t allow any room for God’s grace. Thinking this out, then, we would have to conclude that if a person’s final thought was not good, he will not go to Heaven. If a person’s final words out of his mouth was a bad word, then he is not going to Heaven. Our final thought, word, and action has to be holy, or else the person will go to Hell. That’s where this leads us to. We are to be righteous, but John wrote, “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” So, we sin. What if we happen to sin in our final moment here? Gone. Toast. No hope. Is that the conclusion? Your last step better be right or you are a goner? Perfection or grace? This is not to be sloppy, careless or indifferent about sin. This is not to be casual about our walk with the Lord. But how could Paul conclude that there was a crown of righteousness awaiting him, if on the floor of execution, he had a final bad thought?
Then, are we saying, suicide doesn’t necessarily send one to Hell? It’s not the act of suicide, but it’s giving up on God, not having faith, and not working through problems as God wants us to. What makes suicide wrong is that our problems seems greater than God. We succumb to our problems and give up on any help from the Lord. This is what makes suicide wrong. It is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Problems come and go. Few of us can remember the things we were bothered about five years ago. They are no longer there. Taking your life is permanent. There is no coming back. There are no options after death.
Getting help, talking to the right people and holding on to a Biblical faith are the keys to dealing with our problems. Walking through the Bible shows that we are not the only ones with issues. Building a strong support system of fellowship in the Lord helps us think the way we ought to. Getting medical help when it is necessary. . Changing your environment. Getting away from negative people. Stop listening to dark music. Letting your mind dwell upon the Lord. Understanding and seeking forgiveness and God’s grace to deal with our past. All of these are keys to help one who is struggling with dark thoughts.
There are two dark secrets that have been hidden for generations in the church. You don’t hear many sermons on these. You don’t hear people talking about these. They are there and most know about it. Those twin tunnels of darkness are sexual addictions and suicide. Most congregations have a history with these two. Both are evidence of faith issues.
Maybe turning on the lights and talking about these things, even in the home, will help. They certainly do not go away because we have kept silent about them. Maybe healthy, Biblical discussions about handling problems in life will do more good than an off handed comment, “Suicides all go to Hell.”
The troubled mind is hard to understand. There are folks who are plagued with mental issues for a long time. Some are passed from one generation to the next. Be patient. Be helpful. Be Biblical.