By Deborah Hollifield
“The human spirit can endure in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?” (Prov. 18:14)
For a tragedy that touches everyone, the church is awkwardly silent when it comes to the matter of suicide.
Thankfully, Scripture has many examples of the struggle common to all humans from time-to-time, regardless of their depth of faith.
The Old Testament records the “shame in defeat” suicides of King Saul and his armor bearer, in order to avoid capture (I Samuel 31) and King Abimelech and his armor bearer, to avoid being killed by a woman (Judges 9). Zimri, King of Israel only a week before being ousted by a coup, perished in his burning palace (I Kings 16:19).
Jonah is an example of an unsuccessful suicide, when he took the blame for his ship’s peril on the sea, and then tried to sacrifice himself by going overboard to save the ship (Jonah 1:12). Later, in a funk of anger sourced in resentment, he wished for death in Nineveh (Jonah 4:8)
The only suicide in the New Testament is Judas, in apparent remorse, (Matthew 27:3)
The Bible does not say that someone who commits suicide cannot go to heaven (note that this is Protestant teaching, which does not include the Catholic teaching of the necessity of last rites). The taking of a life – even one’s own – is the murder of a human being, which life we have no right to end. But for Christ-followers - whose rash act born out of unreasoning emotion or the pit of despair leaves no opportunity for confession – in this sinful act, as in all our sinful acts,
“... we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world" (1 John 2:1-2).
There are far more accounts of saints who wished for death, but instead, chose life:
Moses, who despaired of the burden of momentarily failed leadership (Numbers 11:14-15); Job, after the severe trial of losing his wealth and family (Job 3:11); an exhausted and harassed Elijah collapsed under a broom tree and wished for death (I Kings 19:4). Rebekkah wanted to die because of family conflict, (Gen 27:46; 28:5); David despaired of the future. Even Paul, one who had met Jesus face-to-face, who was once taken up into Heaven, who had experienced Divine rescue and performed miracles himself, was momentarily overwhelmed by his trials and “despaired of life itself” (2 Corinthians 1:8).
The myriad reasons for loss of hope involve focusing on feelings of pride, anger and fear, rather than on the promises of God. Believing the lies of the heart, rather than God’s truth, can turn some toward suicide.
Take heart, Believer! Our times are in God’s hands! (Psalm 31:15)
Five things to let go of:
· Fear of the future (Matthew 6:34)
· The desire to control (Jeremiah 29:11)
· The pain of regret (I John 1:9)
· Shame from your past (2 Corinthians 5:17)
· Unforgiveness (Ephesians 4:32)
Credit Craig Groeshel