Copyright 2011 by Bob Rogers
"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." -- Romans 8:31,35, 37-39 (ESV)
Why did she commit suicide? Could I have done something to prevent it? Most of us have asked these questions. While there are no easy answers, the Bible gives us help in this time of grief.
Let me suggest several truths that can help us.
1) Guard against being judgmental.
This is not a time to judge the school, church, friends family, and certainly not a time to judge the one who took her life. No one knows the pressures or problems another person faces. Jesus taught us, "Judge not, lest you be judged." (Matthew 7:1, KJV) She had a forgiving heart, and turned the other cheek, and so must we. It will not help to judge others, nor to judge yourself.
There's probably not a person here who hasn't said the word "if." If only I had said something or done something different, perhaps she would not have taken her life. Martha used the word "if." In John 11, Mary and Martha's brother Lazarus was dying and they sent for Jesus to heal him, but Lazarus died before Jesus arrived. In John 11:21, "Martha said to Jesus, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.'" But "if" is about the past. "If" cannot bring her back, and it will not help us in the present.
Instead of asking "why?" or wondering "if," we need to ask "what." What can I do now? Jesus told Martha what she needed: "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live." (John 11:25, ESV)
So instead of asking, "why," let's ask "what." What can we do to be better because of this?
2) Hold on to our hope in Christ.
There is no point in ignoring the elephant in the room. Her parents have encouraged me to speak openly about suicide, because they don't want anybody else to suffer through this.
So let's address the matter directly. Is suicide a sin? Yes, it is. Is suicide the unpardonable sin? No, it is not. There are so many reasons why we should not take our own lives, which I will discuss in a moment, but the Bible does not teach that suicide cannot be forgiven. Mark 3:28-30 says that all sins can be forgiven, except for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Jesus said these words because the Pharisees were resisting the tug of the Holy Spirit on their hearts to follow Christ, and in fact they had accused Christ of having a demonic spirit.
Our salvation is not based on the way we die, but based on the one who died for us. John 3:16 (KJV) says, "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life." He died for our sins on the cross, so that everybody who believes in him does not have to perish, but will live forever.
3) God brings good out of the bad.
When the apostle Paul was in prison in Rome, he wrote from the jail cell to the church in Philippi, "I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel." (Philippians 1:12, ESV) In fact, we read in Acts 16 that when Paul was in jail in Philippi, God used Paul to lead the jailer to faith in Christ, and now he was reminding the church in Philippi that God was doing it again in Rome.
When Jesus died on the cross, the disciples thought their world had come to an end, and Jesus had been defeated. But instead, God was using it to forgive our sins, and then God raised Jesus from the dead to pave the way for us to have eternal life. God is in the business of bringing good out of bad!
Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Jesus Christ is the permanent solution who makes our problems temporary!
"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but he things that are unseen are eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, ESV)
4) Let's examine our own lives.
Life is a gift. We should not waste our lives by suddenly taking it, or by wasting it slowly by degrees, with meaningless living. Make your days count. Hug your children. Hug your parents. Say, "I love you." Listen to one another. Reach out for help when you are in despair. Talk about your problems. We have a choice to be bitter or better because of this. If we can draw closer together as a community and with our families, we can be better.
Storms will come in our lives, but those who withstand are those who have strong roots. Years ago, a powerful storm blew down an oak tree in front of our youth center. It crushed the roof and did major damage to our Middle School department. Thankfully, it happened at night when nobody was inside. The reason it happened was that tree did not have deep roots. A tree that has deep roots can withstand a bigger storm.
The way you get deep roots is by a personal relationships with Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. As you grow in your relationship with Him by faith, your roots get deeper and deeper, and you are more able to stand against the storms of life.
We will never understand all of the reasons why there is tragedy in life, but if we are rooted in Christ, we can hold on despite the tragedies we face.
The contemporary Christian group, 4Him, wrote a song about the tragic death of a friend, saying,
"When the reasons aren't clear to me
When it all is a mystery
I want to know why.
And though down here I may not understand
I won't let go of the Unseen Hand
For it holds the reasons why."