Suicide and the Savior

Garden-tomb

The recent news of Robin William’s suicide has people everywhere talking openly about a subject that is usually addressed in private. It is the kind of subject many would rather keep under the radar and relegate to support groups or quiet office settings. The reality is that suicide, depression, and mental illness are subjects the church should address. If we truly have a heart for the least of these, then we must be sensitive to every opportunity around us to share the hope and peace that can be found in Jesus.

Before we move forward,  I want to say that there is a lot of input via the internet and other media outlets by Christians who feel it is their place to make conclusions and determine where people will spend eternity based on their conjecture. Friends, that is not our place.

As believers, we are to be salt and light in this dark world…not salt poured on a fresh wound.

Now, what are we to do as believers to effectively address the issues surrounding hopelessness and suicide? It is ok to admit we don’t have all of the answers but we know where they can be found.

Over the years, issues like depression, mental illness, and suicide have seemed to be on the periphery of many churches and subjects left only to the professionals to address. Why have these issues been under the radar or even hushed in years past by some? It is fair to say that ignorance is one strong possibility. There is another glaring reason for some avoiding this subject and I believe it is stigmaIn certain faith circles, there is the sense that to be a Christian means we are victorious, healthy, have it all together, and on top. This notion may or may not be spoken of, but it it is often implied in Hyper faith or prosperity gospel settings. The idea is:    If you are free of pain, suffering, or, problems then…….you are blessed. By implication, people who are hurting don’t fit this mold and feel like spiritual outcasts on the periphery. It is no wonder that so many believers have squelched the pain, depression, or mental illness and dared not to share this with other people in their local church community. Depression isn’t unheard of in the Bible, on the contrary there are very (real) godly people….not fictitious ancient characters from some story who have dealt with despair and pain:

Job 3:23  Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden,whom God has hedged in? For my sighing comes instead of my bread,and my groanings are poured out like water. For the thing that I fear comes upon me,and what I dread befalls me.  I am not at ease, nor am I quiet;I have no rest, but trouble comes.  -Job, a godly man.  

Psalm 38:6  I am utterly bowed down and prostrate;all the day I go about mourning. For my sides are filled with burning,and there is no soundness in my flesh.  I am feeble and crushed;I groan because of the tumult of my heart.  -David, a man after God’s own heart.

Depression doesn’t equal being suicidal. Depression may be short lived and then dissipate over weeks and months. Other times, there maybe a deep hopeless despair that overwhelms a person and they are driven down into complete hopelessness. Suicidal thoughts and contemplation is nothing to be ashamed of. It is a fact people are hurting and broken. Christians should always be ready to help a brother or sister, show them the love of Jesus, provide or find wise counsel, and be there for them. This compassion for people who are hurting smashes the stigmas attached to depression and despair. Instead of feeling isolated and hopeless, people will know church is a safe place to be open about the issues they are facing.

Proverbs 17:17  A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

What are the issues out there and perhaps right in front of us that aren’t obvious?  It may be a new mom who is struggling with postpartum depression. It might be a person in failing physical health with no one to talk to. Maybe it’s the sweet high school age girl in our youth group who by all appearances has it all together but falling apart on the inside and contemplating suicide. Whether it’s suicidal thoughts, deep depression, or feeling completely empty and hopeless, Jesus is the answer to our deepest hurts and pain.

John 10:10   The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

To be sure, there are many churches reaching out to the hurting in their congregation. My home church has a wonderful soul care ministry that dedicates a majority of it’s time to helping hurting people find the peace that only Jesus can bring. There are  many excellent professionals ministering in the area of depression and mental health. Pastors are addressing these subjects during sermon applications and many believers are aware of the hurting around them. God has blessed us with wonderful counselors, physicians, and medicines to help along the way.  So what can you and I do as believers in to reach out to those hurting around us in our churches, marketplace, and beyond?

A biblical approach is always the best approach. Jesus has always been the model of how we engage the hurting in our world. The Lord was the perfect example of ministry to the hurting. Can you picture His tender eyes when the Bible says:  He was moved to compassion. He wept. Come unto me.   This is the heart of our savior. He met the broken right where they are. That is street level love that can’t be sentimentally captured or expressed. He showed this in a real tangible way. As believers we need to be sensitive to the needs around us. Awareness and sensitivity are important elements of the compassion we share with those hurting around us. These people need to know that they don’t face this alone. We have an opportunity to be available, show love, and be there with the encouraging counsel of the word of God. Hurting people are sitting next to us in our small groups, youth groups, Sunday school class, ladies Bible study, men’s retreats, and the church Christmas concert. Some have known the savior for decades, some new believers, and there are some who don’t know the Lord yet.

We have the opportunity to get to know people, ask questions, and share life outside of the Sunday service. How do we help and what is the formula? There is no script because these are real issues and people. So we must engage with humility and authenticity. We need to be ready to pray with them and offer wise biblical counsel. If that means being available by phone at 12:30 am, then that’s what it takes. If it means holding a sister’s hand while she tells you about her pain for the 5th time, praise God for the opportunity. Always men with men and women with women, we need to be there showing the compassion that Christ showed to us. Authentic Christianity is key here. We need to be ready, prayed up, walking in His spirit, and ready to share the truths of the Bible, because there and there alone is where we find the hope that’s worth living for.

Matthew 11:28  Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

You may be asking, Howard….isn’t this is a website dedicated to end time commentary and biblical Christian living in the last days…. so how does this all tie in?  It ties in because this world seems to be moving at a faster pace and even with all the great technology, our days are more stressful then ever. In years past, we were connected with family and community. Now loved ones and close friends are scattered about everywhere. We are bombarded with every evil on the face of the earth now via the internet, television, or phone. People are more uncertain about the economy than ever before. They look around and despite all of our technological advances, this world is  just as violent as it’s ever been with the looming shadows of wars, terrorism, and unrest. So whether their hopelessness is based on a personal struggle deep inside or it’s a hopelessness because of the fears of what is going on in this darkening world, there is hope, peace, and joy through Jesus. The picture for this article is the garden tomb in Jerusalem. Jesus paid the price so that we might have peace.

Isaiah 53:5   But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,and with his wounds we are healed.

All for Him,

Howard

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Howard Green
Howard uses end time Bible Prophecy to proclaim the gospel and to exhort believers. He focuses on end time prophecy because it points to repentance, salvation, and holy living through Jesus. 2 Peter 3:11 What sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God...
  • Thanks for writing and sharing this. I have struggled with anxiety and depression my entire life. Personally, I have never found support for these issues through the church. People in the church either don’t understand, think the solution is simple–“Just pray about it! Give your worries to him!”–, or frankly have an ugly view of people that suffer from mental illness (that these people are selfish, or demon possessed, or not trying hard enough to give their worries to God, etc.). I’m hopeful, though, as these issues seem to be talked about more openly in recent years.

    • Howard

      Dear bluntbelief….Thank you for writing and for your openness regarding this matter. There are many believers in the church who mean well and the motives of their heart are to build others up. Sometimes this may get muddled up in ‘Christian platitudes’ because it’s the ‘thing to say.’ I don’t know even 10% of the answers to the hurts in this hard life. Things like unwanted divorce, autism, pain, disease, death of children, disabilities, depression, and a thousand other things of life can come without warning. I don’t believe we will have all of the ‘why’ answers on this side of heaven. One thing I do know is….Jesus is the ‘who’ we desperately must cling to and He is a friend who sticks closer than a brother in every aspect of our life. Be certain that many other believers who read Concerning the Times stand with you in prayer and His love.

  • Howard

    Dear Bro. Nick….thank you for reminding us of the tangible comfort found in God’s word, especially in the Psalms. Moreover, for sharing an example of a lifelong Christian marriage. I pray the love of our Lord comforts you in a very powerful way. We try to post as many comments as possible here so that believers are able to hold one another up in prayer. God bless you.

  • Bro. Nick

    I agree with much that you say and thank you for the article.
    I make the following comment(ary) from my personal understanding and experience – my wife of 40+ years ‘went home to Glory’ 2 years ago today, my son lives in another city – we talk every couple of weeks – I’ve only seen him 5-6 times since the death of my wife, and I have no personal friends.

    “The Lord Jesus Christ”, all of the writers of the Epistles, and several of the Old Testament Prophets warned much more about the increase of –
    – ‘spiritual deception’ by “false teachers”, “false prophets”, pastors that are actually “hirelings”, ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’ – which is on an ever increasingly exponential ‘surge’ RIGHT NOW – TODAY –
    – than they warned about the physical indications prior to the return of “Jesus the Christ” for His true Church.
    – Yet – how seldom is the warning plainly spoken or taught about from pulpits – that CHRISTians are to obey and “Put on the whole armour of God” – which the Apostle Paul tells us – NOT once
    – BUT THREE TIMES