“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life (zoe) and have it abundantly.” -Jesus, John 10:10
With the recent passing of a well-known Christian leader who took his own life, many of us are trying to get our heads and hearts around the relationship between faith and suicide. We’re wondering, How can a person who believes – and proclaims – that there is always hope in Jesus Christ fall victim to suicide – the ultimate expression of hopelessness?
Obviously, it can happen.
We know that we live in a broken world and we understand that the pain associated with mental illness and emotional trauma can be absolutely unbearable, but isn’t a relationship with Jesus supposed to sustain us when we are broken and have nothing left? Wasn’t the reason Jesus stepped into our world in the first place to conquer sin and death and give us life in exchange?
Truth is, He has given us life. The Bible promises that those who believe in Jesus receive the gift of eternal life (John 3:14-17). If you have placed your trust in Jesus, even when your heart stops beating and your lungs stop breathing, your spirit will continue in unbroken fellowship with God forever.
But the devil is still trying to kill us. When we are at our lowest and most vulnerable moments, he seeks to take advantage and tempt us to do the unthinkable (I Peter 5:8).
He even tried it with Jesus. When Jesus was physically and emotionally blitzed after 40 days of fasting and isolation, Satan told him to jump off the highest point of the Temple. Let’s be clear, this was the antagonist trying to persuade the Messiah to kill himself. He wanted Jesus to die before the miracles started. He wanted Jesus to die before it was His time. But as you know, Jesus saw right through it.
To help us process our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs about suicide, here are a few things to keep in view:
- Suicide is the taking of human life. It is because every single person is made in the image of God that God gave us the responsibility to protect and promote all human life (Genesis 9:5-6). And that includes our own life! Whether we are healthy, or sick and broken, our lives have value and sanctity in the eyes of God. Every breath, every heartbeat is worth fighting for.
- Suicide inflicts a deep wound, especially on children. Suicide causes grief and loss that will have to be carried by those left behind. A child can eventually come to terms with losing a parent or loved one who died from illness or accident, but suicide? That trauma will cause a deep and complicated wound. Many folks who struggle with thoughts of suicide would tell us that thinking about the people in their lives – especially the little ones that need them – is one of the things that helps them back away from that ledge.
- Suicide underrepresents the depth of God’s love, power, and grace. The skeptics and atheists of the world probably feel that their case against God is validated when they hear about a Christian taking their own life. It gives them opportunity to say, “See, God isn’t real. He didn’t help them when they needed him.” What they don’t realize is that for every one believer who tragically goes under for the last time, there are thousands that by God’s grace and power are beautifully alive, even while they struggle with the pressures of depression and anxiety.
We grieve with those who grieve and we pray for those coping with loss of loved ones due to suicide. Our hearts ache with them. May God prove Himself mighty and strong on their behalf. And may He give those of us who survive the grace to…live.
It’s a new day with God. Run with it.