I started this article last month after hearing about a neighbor’s twenty-three year old son who had taken his own life. I pick this up again after hearing the same thing last week from our daughter Lee, of a friend and former neighbor whom she had known since middle school.
Self-destruction has always been a way out of this world. But why is this an option? If you have ever been depressed, confused, or simply not comprehending what life is about, the thought of escape through death may have come to mind. For some it may have never been contemplated. But, I have been there ~ in my thinking during a difficult time in my life. (The Light of God’s Grace) With a heart of gratitude I thank the Lord, my God, that He brought me through that time and past those thoughts to see what I naturally would have never understood about His purpose for our creation.
Whenever I hear of a successful self-annihilation I am not surprised, even if I never knew the person; though I am disheartened and affected for days after. To have the best life that we can think of in this world does not guarantee a safe passage through it. This world is no less than a pit — in John 5:19 he describes it — “the whole world lies in wickedness.” Even in our strongest faith, at best it is still a wilderness. We may at times fear the worst without realizing that the worst we should fear is within us.
I have intentionally avoided using the word “suicide” because the word itself does not carry as much weight as the words “self-destruction.” It has become old-hat in a culture that does not think much about the true meaning of life. Rather, death is appealing to some, even Job and Jonah; and for others it is provocative, and alluring to the actual point of planning and execution at their own hands.
Thomas Watson in his writing on The Lord’s Prayer terms it “self-murder,” which puts even more emphasis on one of the greatest tragedies that this world knows.
I was reading the section on the sixth petition, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” only a few months ago, when I heard of the brutal suicide of the mother of one of the members of our church. Following here is the excerpt.
“Use 3. Let us labour that we be not overcome by temptation.
What means should be used, that Satan’s temptations may not prevail against us?
(1) Avoid solitariness. It is no wisdom, in fighting with an enemy, to give him the advantage of the ground. We give Satan advantage of the ground when we are alone. Eve was foiled in the absence of her husband. A virgin is not so soon set upon in company. “Two are better than one.” Eccl. 5:9. Get into the communion of saints, for that is a good remedy against temptation.
(2) If you would not be overcome by temptation, beware of the predominance of melancholy, which is atra biliis, a black humour seated chiefly in the brain. Melancholy disturbs reason and exposes to temptation. One calls melancholy balneum diaboli, the devil’s bath; he bathes himself with delight in such a person. Melancholy clothes the mind in sable; it fills it with such dismal apprehensions as often end in self-murder.”
There are fourteen other means that he suggests, but these two can describe the nature of those who see no other option. This second one was etched in my mind, and is a reminder for me in those times when I might again wallow in self-pity.
Just as the angels in heaven rejoice over one sinner who comes to repentance, so, Satan and his angels must rejoice whenever one person destroys himself.
What are the options? I write this, as every person writes, from my own knowledge and experience. I write this section, as John wrote his letter, to believers. (I will speak to unbelievers later.) An unbeliever cannot understand the true meaning of life. As I understand from God’s word there are only two options in this world — LIFE and death. I capitalize the word LIFE to make it distinct from what the world knows as life. Simply breathing is not real life.
Our thought-life is what we know of life, and if our thoughts are not changed we are simply moving in a death pattern until we all die naturally. We all are born into this worldly life with a death sentence over our heads. We may as well be given a death certificate when we take our first breath — except that some will be saved for eternal life.
God has provided the means for this salvation, a pardon from Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. Anyone who has this hope looks to the author and finisher of our faith —who leads us in triumph against the enemy. He is faithful to keep us and lead us through this wilderness and all of Satan’s obstacles, to His own glory.
LIFE Through a New Birth
“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” 1 John 5:4-5
Our nature since the Fall is prone to self-destruction; even by the way we live. It is the mode in which we all exist. Death is not only part of this world; it is the main part of this world. God teaches us in His word that this world must be overcome. The world of death reigns within us until the “life of Christ” rules our being. If Christ is not our LIFE then Satan has the stronghold in our hearts and minds.
But the apostle Paul speaks of this in 1 Corinthians 10:4-5
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) – one translation uses the term “divine power”
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”
This is the power over death in our thinking and living by the Spirit of Christ.
What I am saying here is not to judge anyone who succumbs to his or her own thoughts and means of death, but generally from the point that God speaks in His word on the subject of life and death. What I am writing here is to encourage the believer, the children of the heavenly Father. We never know the temptations we may face. We may say that we have never thought of taking our own life; and that we never would, but this is pride within us; the very thing that Satan loves about us, part of his own nature. Even the strongest believer needs the continual shoring up of faith through prayer and His word; and the company and close relationship with other believers. All of true LIFE is described in The Holy Bible with the companion of God’s Holy Spirit. It is a love letter to His children leading us and preparing us for the eternal LIFE in a new world. I praise Him that death is sandwiched between His work of creation and His work of redemption in Christ. Though it is a hard read I like John Owen’s book The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. In Christ’s death death is overcome for those who believe and know Him. “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 1 Corinthians 15:54
LIFE in Christ is a new world in which believers lives daily, with their focus on God.
(Tomorrow: Part 2 ~ LIFE for Those Who May be Desperate
Next day: Part 3 ~ LIFE for Those Who Are Left Behind)