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Ps 43:5, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”
Suicide is the 9th leading cause of death in the United States. When an individual ends their life a “psychological autopsy” is sometimes conducted by mental health professionals and clergy to determine what may have led the individual to take such drastic action. After all possible reasons are considered we’re still left with a reality that makes no sense; knowing “why” doesn’t take away our grief.
The most tragic thing when people take their own life is that it is an unnecessary act. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. We all feel despair at times, and if we’re honest, we’ve all wished to die at one time or another. In the Bible Elijah and Jonah were focused inward and selfishly asked God to die—they gave up, but God wasn’t through with them. Life is often unbearably burdensome; we cry for relief—pain is inevitable, but misery is optional. Jesus offers another Way: “Come unto Me, all you who are weary and heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.”
When we are troubled by life, we need to turn—to others (friends, family, church)—and to God. We can’t make it on our own; we need support…and support is available. Because we can get so focused on our problems we sometimes think no one cares, or we decide that life is too heavy a load to dump on others…and we try to bear our burdens alone. We grow introspective—which can lead to confusion and panic. God is telling us: “Turn your worries over to Me.” It may seem like all hope is gone—-but there are always other alternatives, other options. God won’t always remove our burdens, but He will give us the strength to accept them, to learn and grow from them.
God is a forgiving God, but we don’t always feel like we can be forgiven. We may doubt His unconditional love, in spite of His promises and reassurance. People ask if believers who commit suicide go to heaven. I believe they do, but I also think the first thing they get is a “butt-chewing”. Suicide can be a means of self-punishment and self-rejection. We may feel like we don’t deserve to live, but God accepts us completely. Whether we live or die is for Him alone to decide. We may feel defeated; usually because our perception is narrowed by tunnel vision—we tend to focus only on our problems, which can cause us to interpret life as meaningless and unendurable. With trust in God we can move beyond futility; we can hope in God and be content, regardless of our circumstances.
We live in a troubled, fearful world, a world filled with conflict and confusion. In the midst of all our trials, Jesus promises us: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, and be not afraid.”
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