Summary: Your life is sacred. It is special. It is a gift of God. Give it a chance.
INTRO: We don’t deal openly with some social problems. We think they will go away if we ignore them. They don’t go away.
Suicide is one such problem. We don’t talk about it often. It is shocking. It leaves us speechless. It leaves us helpless and we don’t have the slightest idea how to deal with it.
Suicide is closer to us than many people think. Maybe you have considered it. Maybe you never will consider suicide, but chances are that someone you know will. What will you do then? Will you know how to help? Will you sit by powerlessly?
Does the Bible have anything to say about suicide? If we can understand the feelings, emotions, and rationalizations that motivate one to take his life, perhaps we can help someone who stands on the brink of that dark abyss looking down into the bottomless pit.
I. WHY DO SOME PEOPLE ATTEMPT SUICIDE?
It would be naïve to think that the reasons are always the same. Likewise, they are not limited to the ones listed below.
A) To Fail. Many attempt suicide in order to fail. Such efforts at self-destruction are often cries for help—so others can see the seriousness of that person’s distress. Most suicide attempts actually fail.
B) To Escape Problems Of Life. Many see death as the only other option to a life full of problems. They feel that not even death can be worse than their lives are now.
C) They Don’t Feel That They Belong. Regardless of how popular or loved they are, they don’t feel like they belong. They feel that everything will be the same with or without them, and no one will miss them. They feel isolated and all alone.
D) They Have No Vision Of A Brighter Future. They rationalize, “Why continue living such a dismal existence… it will never get any better!” They feel there is nothing to live for—life is not worth living.
II. WHAT FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS ARE ASSOCIATED WITH SUICIDE?
A) Depression. Life is full of problems (cf. Job 5:7). Is there anyone who doesn’t get depressed in the middle of them? I think not. Why does depression cause some people to take their lives while other people snap out of it? Some people feed their depression. Instead of dealing with it in positive ways, they make it worse through self-pity, withdrawal, pessimism, and anger. They begin to think of themselves as worthless, useless, and unimportant. They feel like a burden to everyone else—that everyone would be better off without them.
1) The prophet Elijah exhibited these feelings and emotions, and wanted to die (1 Kings 19:1-18). Elijah had just faced an entire nation, challenging them to turn to God and leave Baal. Single-handedly, he stood up for the Lord as God exhibited His power showing whose God was really God! Queen Jezebel threatened his life because of it, and he fled in fear (19:1-3).
2) Elijah was ready to die, “But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, ‘It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!’” (19:4). He thought the situation was hopeless. He was wrong. Twice when God asked him what was wrong, Elijah replied “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.” (19:10,14). It was true that the people of Israel had done those terrible things, but Elijah was wrong to think that he was alone (19:18).
3) No matter how he felt, Elijah was not alone. But notice what destructive things Elijah did to conclude that all was hopeless—he isolated himself (19:3-4,9), he forgot about God’s deliverance from the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:17-40), he indulged in self-pity (19:10,14), he became pessimistic (19:10,14), and by doing all of those things, he continued feeding his depression.
4) What did God tell him to do to relieve his depression? He told him to get busy doing the Lord’s work (19:15-16). He also told him that his pessimistic attitude about the nation was wrong (19:18). Someone once said, “I must lose myself in service lest I wither in despair.” God knew that service, action, and setting the prophet’s thinking straight would deliver him from his suicidal depression. Surely there is something in there for us to learn.
5) In the middle of a severe, prolonged depression, and apparently hopeless odds, many people take their own lives. These people—like Elijah—have wrongly assessed their circumstances. They had not explored all of the alternatives. Their depression has distorted their thinking. Depression always distorts our thinking!