Summary: Funeral sermon for a 16-year old who took his life by suicide at 3 AM by gunshot. It is based on what God provided Elijah when he wanted to die. Its intent is to offer the equivalent of bread, water and rest to the grieving, especially peers and family.
Background (1 Kings 18): 450 idol prophets; 2 altars, 1 fire;
Elijah stood up to 450 prophets of Baal but ran for his life when one woman threatened him (1 Kings 19:3-8).
Elijah wanted to die, he had poured out his life for God and felt it had no impact. He was tired and in despair, depressed. Sometimes our lowest lows follow our highest highs. He experienced a great spiritual success and now was criticized and hunted down. “I’ve had it, take me home.” Further, he felt he was all alone, 19:10. He wasn’t (19:18: 7000) but it felt like it.
__________ was devoted to Jesus. He wanted to do more for God. He felt that who he was and what he’d done was not enough. He struggled with feeling that he was not good enough. He didn’t have some of the talents and abilities of others, things came hard and felt alone at times. God provided Elijah rest, bread and water (nice treat in the wilderness). This refreshed him and encouraged him. I’d like to try to offer some rest, bread and water in light of some of what I learned from this tragic happening.
1. Don’t make decisions at 3 AM you cannot undo when the sun is up.
There is a reason creation began with light, Jesus called himself the light of the world and Satan is called the prince of darkness. The darkness of 3 AM can cover all the good in your life and make you feel hopeless and helpless. If one does not intentionally focus on God and His goodness at 3 AM what will naturally overwhelm your mind like a flood are all your failures and disappointments and discouragements. If you weren’t depressed before you can become so. And it may seem like you have no chance of making things better ever and have no choice but doing everybody a favor and ending your life. But, if you will go back to bed and get some rest, the sun will come up and you will be able to see God’s goodness in your life. If _________ had waited until the sun came up maybe he would have seen and heard some of the things that his peers said about him when they gathered in this very room to share memories and fondness of him. It would have encouraged him to see the impact he had on people with his love and devotion to Jesus.
2. For many, maybe most, life really starts after High School.
It is after High School that many of us finally get to do what we are made for. I talked with one friend and he said he graduated last in his class and now out-earns everyone he graduated with. I did not do well in high school as little of it caught my interest compared to other things that did. I did better in college and better than that in graduate school—even taking some classes at Harvard. Not bad for low Bs and high Cs.
______ struggled in High School. It took him longer than many to complete assignments, it was hard. He stressed over it. But, if you do as good as you can and escape, I mean graduate, you can move on to what you really can and want to do.
3. Teens, talk through big ideas with an adult you trust and respect…and listen to them.
There is a whole book of the Bible devoted to that thought, Proverbs. A dad shares with his kids about life and wisdom. Do you know why that is in there? One reason has been discovered by studying the brain: the brains of adolescents are not fully developed. The part that is not developed helps you to put things in a proper perspective. The brains of young people tend to make them think that things that are temporary are eternal, and things that are eternal are temporary. So, when something temporary happens, like you flunk a test or a friend hurts you it seems like your life is over. But, when something big happens, like choices which cannot be undone, too little thought is given and young people often act on their impulses. I don’t know this for sure, but from things I heard I have my doubts that _____ really understood what he was doing last TH at 3 AM. I don’t think his emotional state nor his brain allowed him to.
Young people, I know we may not be hip to all that is new and the latest fads, but us older people tend to have a better handle of what matters most. Before you do something which cannot be undone, talk with someone older, and LISTEN. Someone who is mature will help you see what is temporary and what is eternal or long-lasting so you can make a wise choice.