Thursday, March 03, 2011

Is there hope after suicide?

Seeing suicide in light of our Father's Love

Recently a person asked me about suicide, “Is there hope for a person who takes his or her own life?” It is a salient question, rooted deep in the pain and brokenness of human life. It is a rare person who has not been touched by this query: Is there hope, for this?

In order to take this question seriously, and give an eternal answer, we must understand something true about the character of God, and something true about human condition. First, we must see that God looks beyond every act to its inner motivation. God’s look ‘penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it determines the thoughts and attitudes of the heart’ – every time. Secondly, we must see that not all suicide is equal in intent and motivation. There is the suicide of rebellion, where a soul that hates the laws of God commits the highest and final act of pride – suicide – showing him or herself as the ruler of life, in an ultimate act. However, there are many cases of the suicide of brokenness, where people cannot bear the colossal weight of another person's sins [think abuse unmentionable that shatters the psyche of the victim, linearly]; there is also in this rubric of brokenness the suicide of chemical failure, clinical depression, etc. God looks on the heart, ever and always, and specifically in this act of suicide.

Tolkien writes of rebellious suicide in The Lord of the Rings, where Denethor, Steward-ruler of Gondor, is overcome with darkness, and desires to kill himself and his son. He binds his son on a funeral pyre, and claims despair: ‘Battle is vain. Why should we wish to live longer? Why should we not go to death…?’ Immediately the reply comes:
‘Authority is not given to you, Steward of Gondor, to order the hour of your death… And only the heathen kings, under the domination of the Dark Power, did thus, slaying themselves in pride and despair, murdering their kin to ease their own death.’

A powerful line, “Only the heathen kings, under the domination of the Dark Power, did thus, slaying themselves in pride and despair…” This is classic narcissistic suicide, where the person who has lived life in the center of control suddenly realizes, due to failing health or fortune, that such fallen self-determination cannot continue. Then, in a last desperate attempt to control and order, he ends his own life.

However, most of us encounter a different kind of suicide – that of brokenness and pain. Think of the love that you feel for someone who has been hurt by the weight of others’ sins, maybe someone who never had a chance at the life and faith you enjoy; or, perhaps someone whose body has failed them, locked in a flood of chemical dysfunction and manifest depression… think of the love that you feel for that person, the forgiveness and compassion you would extend them. Think of that for a moment and then hear this: As much as you love that person, God loves them more.

God is the most perfect Abba, the most perfect heavenly Father about whom we cannot conceive enough Love. Yes, many earthy fathers have been flawed, cruel and mean, but not our Abba. He is faithful, dependable, true and infinite in love – His love reaches even beyond death, even beyond the worst of our sin and brokenness, to bring us to redemption. There is not a single soul who has cried out to Him for relief who will not receive that and more, in life to come. Abraham, who knew Him well, said this, “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” And he trusted his own son Isaac to His care, and found Him true. So will all, who swing out from this life on the thread of a single prayer… they will find that underneath them are everlasting Arms, held in eternal care.

Will God love less than His creatures? Never! Will not the Judge of the earth do right? Forever! There is hope, my friend. There is hope!


Note: This is from an original article that I wrote for the Sunday, March 6th edition of the Okeechobee News.

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